“We spoke for 30-40 minutes,” said O’Neill. “What a great man and a cool guy! He gave us a lot of helpful tips on how to prepare our guy for the big one. The one thing Billy said was … having the horse here earlier than later is a big edge. The fact that we’re here is huge. We talked about how not only do jockeys need to kind of figure out the oval, but horses do as well. Between the surface and the horses getting used to the oval, the earlier you’re here, the better.
“It was a great conversation and I let him know how much I appreciated him sharing his experience with us.”
O’Neill said he sees signs every day that I’ll Have Another is growing accustomed to Belmont Park’s unique 1 ½-mile oval.
“I think every day he’s gone a little better,” he said. “He’s switching leads perfectly, [exercise rider] Jonny [Garcia] is happy with him. Cooling out every day, he’s recovering quicker, so that’s a great sign. We’re very happy with the way he’s maintained his stride and the way he’s handling his daily gallops.”
Wednesday evening, members of Team O’Neill will head to the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. to watch the New Jersey Devils host the Los Angeles Kings in Game One of the Stanley Cup finals
“We’re all pumped up,” said O’Neill. “We might even put a little black on a couple of our teeth and have the hockey look where you have the missing-teeth thing going on. We’re just pumped. A close second [to horse racing] would be a hockey playoff. Just the energy in the rink is going to be absolutely crazy. With the fact we’re from L.A., we have to be very conscientious to not be rooting too much for L.A. if we want to make it out of there alive. But, no, we’re pumped. It’s going to be a blast.”
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Not to be outdone by Doug O’Neill and Billy Turner, trainer Dale Romans consulted with Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens on Wednesday as he prepares Donegal Racing’s Dullahan for the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes.
“If anybody knows how to get one to go a mile and a half, it’s The Chief,” said Romans.
Jerkens was skeptical he could provide much help, citing how his best finish in three Belmont Stakes starts was Best of Luck’s fourth in 1999.
The Chief’s record in other races at 1 ½ miles or longer would suggest otherwise, considering how he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup twice at two miles (Prove Out in 1973 and Group Plan in 1975), the Gallant Fox twice at 1 5/8 miles (Choker in 1965 and Dance Caller in 1983), the Man o’ War once at 1 ½ miles on soft turf, (Beau Purple in 1962, defeating Kelso), the Woodward once at 1 ½ miles (Prove Out in 1973, defeating Secretariat), and the Brooklyn once at 1 ½ miles (Hechizado in 1981).
To build Dullahan’s stamina for the Belmont, Romans had the two-time Grade 1 winner breeze one mile in 1:43 on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
“I see you breezed him a mile,” noted Jerkens.
“Yep. What did you think?” asked Romans.
“Well, that’s good.”
“Old school. Let him gallop a mile and an eighth, too.”
“I remember one time we had a horse run in the  Brooklyn. We breezed him a mile and a quarter.”
Jerkens said there is no standard way to prepare a horse for a race like the Belmont Stakes.
“The only thing you can do is to do what works for you,” said Jerkens. “It’s the only thing to do. Do what works for you.”
On Wednesday, Dullahan galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar.
“Looked good, looked good,” said Romans. “He was bouncing out there. It looked like he liked the racetrack.”
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After having his workout cut short, Guyana Star Dweej was credited with a 50.03 four-furlong breeze on Wednesday at Belmont.
Owner/trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal planned to have Guyana Star Dweej breeze five furlongs, but the colt had his workout truncated as he was pulled up earlier than expected by jockey Eddie Castro.
“For some reason, the jockey didn’t let him go around the turn,” said Shivmangal. “We planned to go five-eighths, but we didn’t get the full work in. But it’s OK. He’s not a work horse. He loafs in the morning, but in the afternoon he’s a different horse. He came back, we scoped him, he scoped fine.”
Shivmangal said he has Guyana Star Dweej tentatively scheduled to breeze on the Wednesday or Thursday prior to the Belmont Stakes.
“I want him to do it fast,” said Shivmangal. “I’ll put him in company, and from there I’ll make my final decision. I would love to run him in the Belmont.”
Guyana Star Dweej, second to Unstoppable U in an April 27 optional claimer at Belmont, is also under consideration for the 1 1/16-mile Easy Goer overnight stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
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Racing fans can enter a free drawing to win commemorative I’ll Have Another merchandise that includes hats, T-shirts and buttons as they watch I’ll Have Another attempt to become the 12th Triple Crown winner when he competes in the June 9 Belmont Stakes. Five lucky winners will receive an I’ll Have Another baseball cap, featuring I’ll Have Another’s name and silks prominently on the fron
An additional 10 will receive an I’ll Have Another t-shirt, while 20 third-prize winners will get an I’ll Have Another button.
The official I’ll Have Another Collection is located at http://allpro2.stores.yahoo.net/ihaanco.html. To enter the contest, visit http://www.facebook.com/thenyra?sk=app_28134323652.
The contest closes on June 5. Winners will be contacted via email.