Two weeks removed from an opportunity to win the Triple Crown – the first since Affirmed won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1978 – O’Neill is scheduled to have runners in five of the nine races.
The first of O’Neill’s runners is Cinco de Mario, a 2-year-old first time starter sired by Candy Ride and out of the Mr. Greeley mare Sweet and Clever.
A $220,000 purchase at the Barretts March sale, Cinco de Mario has the same connections as I’ll Have Another as he is owned by J. Paul Reddam and will be ridden by Mario Gutierrez.
The colt’s name, of course, is a play on Cinco de Mayo, which happened to be the day (May 5) that I’ll Have Another scored his 15-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby.
After O’Neill saddles maiden claimer Midnight Con in the fourth, Siempre Mio will make his first start since Los Angeles Lakers stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol became part owners.
Bryant and Gasol each purchased 25% of the 4-year-old Dixie Union gelding at a Lakers Foundation charity auction April 24.
A 2 ¼ length winner against restricted $25,000 claimers March 31 at Santa Anita, Siempre Mio has won twice in five starts. The California bred, who is also owned by Mark Verge’s Westsiderentals.com and Chris Quinn, will break from the inside against six opponents in the $54,000 allowance at seven furlongs.
Joy Scott, who was aboard for the last victory, again has the call.
The other entrants for O’Neill are the maiden Dancingtothestars in the seventh and Titian in the ninth.