Trainer Doug O'Neill has filed a federal lawsuit against the California Horse Racing Board for its enforcement of total carbon dioxide level regulations he alleges are not based on the most current scientific information.
O'Neill was charged last year by the CHRB with violating the regulatory board's rules against horses competing that test in excess of 37.0 mmol/l for total carbon dioxide in pre-race blood screening. It was O'Neill's fourth alleged violation (three in California, one in Illinois) for exceeding the TCO2 levels, a practice commonly referred to as milkshaking, which elevates the TCO2 levels and is believed to reduce lactic acid buildup in horses and prevent them from tiring.
A copy of O'Neill's complaint against the CHRB can be read here.
Milkshakes were originally administered through tubes that delivered a substance of baking soda and other additives directly into the horse's stomach, but other alkalizing agents are now available to elevate the TCO2 level without resorting to “tubing.”
The horse in question, Argenta, finished eighth in the sixth race at Del Mar on Aug. 25, 2010.
According to LAWeekly.com, O'Neill's suit claims there is “considerable scientific information” that “establishes that the average TCO2 level of normal horses is considerably higher than the level on the basis of which the [racing board] established its testing program.” It also claims the test is “not rationally based given the best and most current scientific information.”
O'Neill is asking the court to stop the CHRB from enforcing its TCO2 testing rules and prevent the board from sanctioning him for the complaint involving Argenta.
California's rule is in line with the Association of Racing Commissioners International's model rule on TCO2 testing levels. The international threshold for TCO2 has been lowered to 36.0mmol/l.
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