The Despicable “Drug” O’Neill Busted for Lidocaine

Although I am generally loath to villainize individual exploiters – choosing instead to indict the industry – I do occasionally make exceptions. Doug (aka “Drug”) O’Neill has a well-earned reputation as a cheater – with cheating, in horseracing, almost always involving animal abuse. We have documented some of that: here, here. In addition, the $152 million-earning O’Neill is a shameless opportunist, helping to lead low-paid (read: exploited) backstretch workers in counter protest to animal-rights activists. In short, Doug O’Neill is a louse.

Sunday, this came down from the CHRB: “Trainer Doug O’Neill, who started the horse Worse Read Sanchez at Golden Gate on May 1, is suspended 60 days and fined $10,000 for violation of the prohibited substance lidocaine [Class 2] and placed on probation for one year. For good cause 30 days of the suspension is to be stayed.”

What in O’Neill’s resume – besides being fabulously successful and wealthy, that is – led the CHRB to believe he was worthy of a break on the suspension? A joke. Lidocaine, for those who may not know, is an anesthetic – “an agent that causes loss of sensation.” For his part, while not contesting the ruling, O’Neill claims the positive resulted from a “transfer of medication from a member of my staff who was prescribed a medication for Shingles.” Of course. Two by the ways: The 3-year-old Worse continues to be under the yoke of O’Neill, most recently raced Oct 7; Worse’s owner is Reddam Racing, the subject of yesterday’s post on a horse named “Vegan.”


  1. They all start horses way too young and push them way too hard! This necessitates the use of painkillers and the fact that this whole industry is unscrupulous enough to continue this abuse without a conscience. It’s abuse from day one of the existence of a horse exploited by the people in this industry and for the people in this industry. Why would they care about the horses when they are causing harm to them on purpose?
    “Pariah of the Month” goes to Doug O’Neill, AKA Drug O’Needle. 🦨

  2. Any person who deliberately and maliciously (because I don’t believe O’Neil’s typical horse racing excuse about the Shingles transfer) injects lidocaine into a sore and possibly crippled racehorse is a criminal.
    Let’s say they know that any given racehorse is about to snap their leg-off and they need to collect on equine insurance.
    Just shoot it up with some Lidocaine and send it out to die and why not?
    This seems to be the prevailing mentality with these “top trainers” whose income is justified with racehorse cheating, mangling, dumping and killing.
    Aside from the blatant racehorse cruelty is the dishonest gambling product and that’s a very strong legal argument in any court of law, unfortunately, stronger than the racehorse abuse.
    Contamination is the true and tried “go-to” excuse for these repeat offenders.
    In 1999 Todd Pletcher was caught with cocaine positives his legal counsel’s defense was “contamination,” and he got off this charge.
    Isn’t it funny how contamination didn’t drift a few feet over to the other trainer’s racehorses in close proximity?
    You got to hand it to Bob Baffert though who is more creative when it comes to his contamination tales like the jimson weed in the hay, or his Assistant Jimmy Barnes with a pain patch all of them evidently responsible for the positives.
    Geez I thought it was the ear wax that fell out of Natalie Jill Baffert’s ear onto the horse that caused the skin rash that required the ointment or injection for Medina Spirit right?
    How about a space alien descending on O’Neill’s racing stable as an experiment?
    Sounds plausible in this sphere of deliberately delusional defer and delay tactics?
    Repeat serious doping positives with repeat offenders with repeat slap on the wrists with repeated racehorse kills under the same trainers for at least 20 years!
    It shouldn’t be any surprise to anybody that they monopolize the purse money and put hundreds of honest owners and trainers out of business because you can’t possibly compete with this level of corruption.
    This example clearly shows that HISA is nothing but a bunch of farts because if they had any meaningful influence at all Doug O’Neill would have been suspended for life given his long history of doping positives.
    The saddest part of this entire scenario is that the racehorses continue to pay the price every step of the way and the kills continue every single damn day.

  3. Yes, I’ve heard this as well. Even in the betting trenches, “Drug” O’Neill was a popular term when referring to this particular trainer. When I was betting, we never knew how to handicap a race in which ‘Drug’ O’Neill had an entrant… the question always was, ‘is he on the juice’ or not?

    Needless to say, O’Neill’s horses would often ‘wake up’ and run the race of their lives after showing dismal recent PPs, thanks to the both illegal and harmful substances he administered into his charges prior to the race.

    A bad game, for sure, that is only getting worse as general public interest falls off and trainers become more and more desperate for wins. It’ll catch up to them sooner or later, though. An industry this corrupt can’t keep on going forever.


    • It’s a depressing outlook when thousands of horses are born into AND killed by an industry that shows a callous disregard for these magnificent sentient beings.
      It’s very sad that it could take the extinction of the breed for this corruption and racketeering operation to stop. It needs to be addressed by legislation and the LEGISLATION PASSED. Our laws are messed up that we, as a country, reward this corrupt behavior with public funds and tax breaks and write-offs.

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