Doug O'Neill says he's dismayed that Secretariat's former owner criticized the connections of Triple Crown candidate I'll Have Another for employing him as the horse's trainer.
He thinks Penny Chenery would change her mind if she were to see him work.
"It's disappointing because of how much respect I have for Mrs. Chenery," O'Neill said Tuesday. "I would love to have her hang out with me for a week and would stress to her, 'Don't believe everything that is written.'"
O'Neill has been fined four times and currently faces a 45-day suspension because one of his horses was found to have an excess level of total carbon dioxide following a race — frequently a sign of an illegal practice known as milkshaking.
However, the California Horse Racing Board agreed with O'Neill that his horse in that 2010 race at Del Mar had not been fed a mixture of bicarbonate of soda, sugar and electrolytes that enhances performance and combats fatigue. The board did not indicate what might have caused the excess level.
The 90-year-old Chenery, one of the most respected figures in thoroughbred racing, questioned why J. Paul Reddam would work with O'Neill in an article published by The Atlantic magazine.
"I think it is regrettable. And it isn't the horse's fault and this is probably a very good horse," Chenery said. "I don't know Mr. Reddam personally, but I think he should be embarrassed that the trainer he has chosen does not have a clean record."
O'Neill continues to insist that he abides by the rules. He believes Chenery would approve of his operation if she was more familiar with it.
"I think she'd be happy with the way things happen around the barn," he said.
I'll Have Another, bidding to become the 12th Triple Crown champion and the first since Affirmed in 1978, turned in another strong gallop Tuesday morning at Belmont Park. He finished so powerfully that his final three furlongs resembled a workout.
O'Neill said he intended to reach out to Billy Turner, who trained 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, for advice on how to handle the remaining days leading to the 1 1-2-mile Belmont Stakes on June 9.
Retired jockey Richard Migliore will share his expertise of Belmont Park with I'll Have Another's rider Mario Gutierrez next week. Migliore will tour the track aboard Lava Man, I'll Have Another's stable pony, and Gutierrez will ride another horse from O'Neill's barn. Migliore won more than 1,350 races at the track during his career.