The colt, owned by J. Paul Reddam’s Reddam Racing LLC, looked the picture of health as he exited Stall 17 in Barn 3 to get his legs washed off at 6:20 Sunday morning.
O’Neill, who was returning to his home base in Southern California later Sunday, plans to return to Louisville mid-week with an early departure planned for Pimlico and the Preakness, the second jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown.
“I will be back in two or three days,” said O’Neill, who later in the morning informed Churchill Downs Stall Superintendant Steve Hargrave that I’ll Have Another would ship to Pimlico Monday afternoon. “I’d like to get him over there and get settled in.”
Sitting at the apex of the highest of the highs, O’Neill is now in position with I’ll Have Another to bring the sport its first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
“I get goose bumps just thinking about it,” O’Neill said. “I think he is the kind of horse who can maintain his form and keep it going.”
Under first-time Kentucky Derby rider Mario Gutierrez, I’ll Have Another became the first horse in Derby history to win from post position 19.
“I don’t think we were more than four wide at any time in the race,” O’Neill said. “I heard some of the horses on the inside had some problems, but we got a smooth trip.”
Also making the trip to Pimlico with I’ll Have Another is Lava Man, the 11-year-old earner of more than $5.2 million, who ponied the Derby winner during his Churchill Downs stay.
“He has taken three horses to the post,” O’Neill said of Lava Man. “They won the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby and a horse I ran here Friday, Unex Dali (GB), who ran second on Friday but thinks he won. Lava Man makes a pretty good caddie.”
Before returning to Kentucky, O’Neill has some pressing business to attend to in California.
“When we started talking about the Derby, I told the kids (son Daniel and daughter Kaylin Dixie) that we would get a hot tub if he won the Derby,” O’Neill said. “We are going to have to do some shopping now.”
BODEMEISTER (Second)/LIAISON (Sixth) – Trainer Bob Baffert said his two Kentucky Derby runners, Zayat Stables LLC and Michel and Tiffany Moreno’s Bodemeister, the runner-up, and Arnold Zetcher’s Liaison, who finished sixth, came out of the race in good shape.
They will stay at Baffert’s barn at Churchill Downs and are possible for the Preakness on May 19. Another Baffert colt, Paynter, is a possibility for the Preakness. Paynter worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 on Sunday morning.
Baffert was scheduled to fly home to California Sunday afternoon, but will return to Louisville next weekend and decide whether any of them will go on to Baltimore for the Preakness.
Bodemeister’s performance – setting blistering fraction and still managing to stay on to finish second – was a major story line of the 138th Kentucky Derby. It was the colt’s fifth race of 2012, but Baffert didn’t rule out a Preakness try.
“I will let him tell me if he’s ready, like I did with Lookin At Lucky,” Baffert said.
In 2010, Lookin At Lucky finished sixth as the favorite in Kentucky Derby despite drawing the rail, and went on to win the Preakness.
“With Lookin At Lucky, the day after the Derby I told them, ‘We’re not going to run,’” Baffert said. “The next Monday I said, ‘Not only are we going, we’re going to win this.’ I’ve got to wait and see if he shows me a spark.”
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith rode Bodemeister and was at Baffert’s barn Sunday morning to breeze Paynter. Smith said he was impressed with the way Bodemeister ran on after covering the first quarter in :22.32, the half-mile in :45.39 and three-quarters of a mile in 1:09.80.
“It’s the first time I finished second in the Derby that I wasn’t pissed off,” he said. “I was so proud of him. He ran an amazing race. He did all the dirty work. That :45 kind of got us. The last sixteenth killed us, but he ran amazing.
Smith said he had looked at replays of the race to judge his ride, but didn’t second-guess the strategy.
“I watched it over and over again and thought maybe I would see something I could have done a little bit different,” Smith said. “He caught such a flyer leaving the gate I had to take advantage of it. We did.”
After Bodemeister drew post six, placing him inside of the other speed horses, Trinniberg and Hansen, Baffert told Smith that they would have to leave the gate running and to get the lead and set the pace. Baffert didn’t talk his plan, though, and was careful not to tout his horse in hopes of making people think he was down on the colt’s chances.
“I played it low key because I knew we were going to be the speed,” Baffert said. “I didn’t want the Trinniberg camp and the Hansen camp to say, ‘Oh, that guy thinks he’s going to do this thing.’ I just played it down low and everyone thought, ‘he’s not happy about his horse’ ”
Baffert said he wasn’t surprised that Liaison ran well in the Derby over a surface he liked.
“He was training like he was going to run a big race and he did,” Baffert said. “He moved up when he got here.”
DULLAHAN (Third) – Donegal Racing’s Dullahan, a fast-closing third after being fanned seven-wide into the stretch, “came back good,” trainer Dale Romans said.
Romans said he had yet to talk with the ownership group regarding the Preakness in less than two weeks.
“Not at all,” he said. “We won’t even talk about it for a couple more days. Gotta get over this hangover first.”
WENT THE DAY WELL (Fourth) – Team Valor International and Mark Ford’s Went the Day Well sported a cut on his right front ankle suffered during his fourth-place Kentucky Derby finish that “didn’t seem like a big deal” to trainer Graham Motion, who reported that his colt otherwise “seemed fine.”
Went the Day Well got away slowly while getting bumped out of the gate and raced far back before swinging seven-wide into the stretch, where he closed with a rush to finish fourth. The son of Proud Citizen finished 2 ½ lengths behind victorious I’ll Have Another.
Went the Day Well went to post with a chance to put Barry Irwin of Team Valor International, Motion and jockey John Velazquez back in the Derby winner’s circle. The trio, who scored with Animal Kingdom last year, would have been the first owner/trainer/jockey team to capture back-to-back Derby wins since Meadow Stable, trainer Lucien Lauren and jockey Ron Turcotte doubled with Riva Ridge and Secretariat in 1972-73.
“It’s frustrating. As good as a trip we had last year, we really suffered this year. Johnny said he just got off a step slow and that cost him. He got further back going into the first turn, and that made all the difference,” Motion said.
“It’s somewhat deflating, but we had it pretty good last year. You have to look at that side of it. It shows you how hard it is to win this race. The winner had a dream trip, and that’s a lot to do with this race.”
As disappointed as Motion was with Went the Day Well’s trip, he was extremely proud of the late-developing colt’s effort.
“I said all week, I felt very good about running the horse in this race. I didn’t know if he was good enough to win the race. Ultimately, I think he was good enough to win the race.”
Monday morning, Went the Day Well will ship to Fair Hill, Md., which is a relatively short van ride to Pimlico, where the Preakness Stakes will be run on May 19. A decision of Went the Day Well’s status for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown has yet to be determined.
“I haven’t talked to Barry yet. We’ll see how he does, but it’s certainly a possibility,” said Motion, who saddled Animal Kingdom for a late-closing second-place finish behind Shackleford in last year’s Preakness.
CREATIVE CAUSE (Fifth) – Heinz Steinmann’s Creative Cause was scheduled for an 11 a.m. flight back to his Southern California base Sunday morning.
“He came out of the race fine,” said John Cisneros, exercise rider and assistant trainer of Creative Cause for trainer Mike Harrington. “I thought he would be quiet this morning, but I had to put a lip chain on him to walk him around the barn.”
Creative Cause was third at the eighth pole and then passed late by Dullahan and Went the Day Well and finished fewer than three lengths behind I’ll Have Another. In all, Southern California-based horses accounted for four of the top six spots in Derby 138.
Immediate plans for Creative Cause were uncertain, Cisneros said.
“We will take him back home and see how he trains and talk it over with Mr. Steinmann and see what he wants to do,” Cisneros said.
UNION RAGS (Seventh) – Chadds Ford Stable’s Union Rags was “bright” Sunday morning after his troubled seventh-place finish in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
Trainer Michael Matz was pleased with his Derby starter’s condition Sunday, but still disappointed that Union Rags’ Derby trip was compromised by a slow start and subsequent traffic and resulted in a seventh-place finish.
After breaking a step slowly, Union Rags was bumped and squeezed back to 18th in the 20-horse field before encountering traffic on the far turn that forced jockey Julien Leparoux to take a hold. The son of Dixie Union closed from 16th to seventh in the final quarter-mile.
“All I could see was that Dullahan came over to the left. I couldn’t see what happened to the other horses. (Leparoux) said he got hit out of the gate after he didn’t break sharp. That’s the Derby,” Matz said. “I feel bad for the horse. He didn’t have the chance to show his true ability. He probably ran a half-mile in about 2 ½ miles (including the Florida Derby).”
Union Rags, who was trapped behind horses before closing late to finish third in the Florida Derby as the 2-5 favorite, surprised his trainer by failing to break alertly.
“The last two times he ran, he broke real sharp. The gate has never been a problem. He’s always broken good. It’s such a disappointing situation right now,” Matz said. “I’m trying to figure out what I did wrong. Certainly, after the Florida Derby, I thought it wouldn’t happen twice. There’s only one chance to do this with a horse like that. That’s the disappointing part of this.”
Matz reported that Union Rags would leave Churchill Downs Sunday evening and would arrive at his Fair Hill, Md., barn early Monday morning after an overnight van ride.
The trainer of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro said it will be a tough decision whether to run Union Rags back in the Preakness or wait until the Belmont Stakes.
“It kind of puts you in a tough situation. If you go to the Preakness and he runs good, then you’ll say, ‘He has to go to the Belmont.’ If he goes to the Preakness and runs bad, you’ll say, ‘I should have waited until the Belmont.’ So it’s kind of a no-win situation right now,” Matz said. “It’s a long year. It sort of makes you say, ‘Do you want to go an hour and a half down the road to the Preakness in two weeks. Or do you want to wait the extra time and go to the Belmont and space his races out?’”
Ultimately, a decision will be made after observing Union Rags’ training at Fair Hill and discussing the colt’s future with owner Phyllis Wyeth.
“We’ll just have to see how he comes out and talk to Phyllis and see what she would prefer to do. There are some nice races all through the whole year, so we’ll see what happens,” Matz said. “It’s (Union Rags’ Derby trip) so unfortunate for the horse and for the owner. How many chances do you get like this, especially for Phyllis, who’s 71 and this was her first chance to get here – and might be her only chance?”
ROUSING SERMON (Eighth) – Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams’ Rousing Sermon exited Kentucky Derby 138 in good order according to Christina Jelm, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
“He came out of the race really well. He is very happy this morning,” Jelm said. “He is going to go back to California today.”
Hollendorfer flew back to California on an early Sunday flight.
HANSEN (Ninth) – Kendall Hansen, M.D. and Skychai Racing LLC’s Hansen likely is headed to Baltimore after his ninth-place finish in Kentucky Derby 138.
“We’ll try the Preakness and give it one more shot,” Hansen said.
Hansen was vanned back to trainer Mike Maker’s Trackside Training Center base at 8 a.m. and will stay there through the middle of next week.
“We like to keep him here at his home base,” Hansen said.
After the race, Hansen, the owner, said Hansen, the horse, was in fine shape but not his usual self.
“He came out of the race perfect,” Hansen said. “He had his head down, he was a little embarrassed. He’s usually pretty hyper after a race but last night he was calm, almost like he was embarrassed. He had a bad start, got pinched back and had nowhere to go the first time through the stretch. That took a lot of him. He got a lot of dirt kicked in his face.”
DADDY NOSE BEST (10th)/SABERCAT (15th) – Trainer Steve Asmussen said both of his Kentucky Derby 138 runners – Cathy and Bob Zollars’ Daddy Nose Best and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Sabercat – were doing “fine” the morning after the race.
Asmussen declined to say whether either horse might be under consideration for the Preakness.
OPTIMIZER (11th) – Bluegrass Hall’s Optimizer came out of Derby 138 in good order according to trainer D. Wayne Lukas and remains under consideration for the Preakness.
“I will talk with Mr. (Brad) Kelley, but yes, there is a chance he could go to Baltimore,” Lukas said.
ALPHA (12th) – Godolphin Racing's Alpha was shipped back to Belmont Park Sunday and is off the Triple Crown trail after a 12th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said the Bernardini colt came out of the race in good shape. Alpha was uncomfortable in the paddock in the sweltering temperatures and McLaughlin said that probably had an impact on how he ran.
“It was a hot, very difficult day,” McLaughlin said. “We'll live to fight another day. It was tough, tough day on all horses. It was very hot and he didn't handle it well.”
EL PADRINO (13th)/GEMOLOGIST (16th) – Let’s Go Stable’s El Padrino and WinStar Farm’s Gemologist exited Kentucky Derby 138 in good order, trainer Todd Pletcher reported Sunday morning.
Gemologist, who finished 16th after stalking the early pace, is scheduled to be given “a week’s vacation” at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky., after suffering his first loss in six starts. El Padrino, who closed from last to finish 13th, will be shipped to New York on Sunday.
“At this point, I’d say both of them would be unlikely for the Preakness,” Pletcher said.
The trainer of 2010 Derby winner Super Saver said neither of his starters encountered any real trouble in their trips on Saturday.
“Gemologist broke really well. He was probably a touch keen early and settled into a good position early,” Pletcher said. “El Padrino broke poorly. He had a clean trip. He was just way back and made some progress along the way.”
DONE TALKING (14th) – Skeedattle Associates’ Done Talking was loaded on a van shortly before 8 o’clock Sunday morning for the ride back to his home base at Laurel in Maryland.
“He’s perfect this morning; came out of the race real good,” said Bobo Brigmon, exercise rider for the Hamilton Smith-trained colt.
Smith indicated after the race Saturday that Done Talking, winner of the Illinois Derby (GIII) in his previous start, would bypass the Preakness.
TRINNIBERG (17th) – Shivananda Parbhoo’s Trinniberg was doing well Sunday morning after finishing 17th in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Trinniberg closely stalked the rapid pace set by Bodemeister to the top of the stretch before tiring during the final quarter of a mile.
“I think he ran a good race. He ran as much as he could run,” said Parbhoo, who reported that his Swale (GIII) and Bay Shore (GIII) winner would go back to sprinting.
Trinniberg, who will be shipped by van to Calder Race Course in South Florida early Monday morning, will be pointed toward the seven-furlong Woody Stephens (GII) on the undercard of the Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 9.
PROSPECTIVE (18th) – John C. Oxley’s Prospective suffered one of the more difficult trips of Kentucky Derby 138 and came back with the scars to prove it.
“He’s a little cut up but he seems no worse for the wear,” trainer Mark Casse said. “He’s got nicks and cuts on three of his legs. We’re just lucky he didn’t fall on his head. He clipped heels pretty badly out of the gate.”
Prospective was bumped at the start, clipped heels and stumbled in traffic the first time past the grandstand, and bumped with El Padrino approaching the half-mile pole.
Casse said that even though Prospective’s horrific trip prevented him from running his race, the colt would not be considered for the remaining Triple Crown events.
“I think what we’re going to do is just kind of regroup, try to find a nice spot and try to get back on the winning track,” Casse said.
TAKE CHARGE INDY (19th) – Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s Take Charge Indy will undergo surgery this week to remove a bone chip in his left front ankle, an injury he sustained during the running of the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Pat Byrne said that the injury is not career threatening and that the colt could be back under tack in about 60 days.
The son of A.P. Indy was in a contending position, running fourth, several lengths behind pacesetting Bodemeister through three-quarters of mile. Jockey Calvin Borel noticed that the colt reacted to something – Borel thought he might have bled – they began slowing down and finished 19th in the field. Take Charge Indy was examined and it was determined that he did not bleed, but he began to show some problems with his left front leg when he returned to Byrne’s barn. X-rays taken Sunday morning revealed the chip.
“Dr. Bill Baker just did the x-rays and in the ankle we have a P-1 chip fracture,” Byrne said. “We’ve got an excellent prognosis.”
Byrne said the colt will be shipped for Woodford Equine Hospital in Versailles, Ky., on Monday and that the surgery will be performed in mid-week.
“They will take that little chip out of the ankle, the rest of the leg is fine,” Byrne said. “We’re looking at 60 days of down time. If everything works out, we will make the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a prep race beforehand.”
Byrne felt that the Florida Derby (GI) winner was going to turn in a big performance in the Kentucky Derby and Borel had him in a ground-saving, stalking position when the colt began to feel the sting for the chip in the joint.
“This wasn’t a talent issue; he was going so easily to the three-eighths pole,” Byrne said. “It’s a major disappointment, but it is horse racing. It happens. So we have an excuse. The horse is fine and we’ll take care of that chip.”
DADDY LONG LEGS (20th) – Michael Tabor, Mrs. Susan Magnier and Derrick Smith’s well-traveled colt started his journey back to Ireland at 7:30 a.m. Sunday when he was loaded on a van outside the quarantine barn.
The UAE Derby (GII) winner was in contention early after starting from the inside post position but didn’t respond when asked for more approaching the second turn, slowed, was eased and finished last. The colt showed some symptoms of being affected by the heat Saturday, but trainer Aidan O’Brien’s traveling head lad T.J. Comerford said the son of Scat Daddy was OK on Sunday.
“I don’t know what it was. Maybe the whole thing got to him,” Comerford said. “He broke well, got away, had a lovely position. It didn’t work out for him, that’s all. It’s one of those things. He’s fine. Bright as a button.”
Daddy Long Legs was flying to Chicago and then on to Europe.
Comerford said he didn’t know where the colt might run next, but noted that he has done well on turf and synthetic surfaces, but had not performed as well in two tries on the dirt at Churchill Downs.
“We’ll just have to pick up the piece and go again with him,” Comerford said.