His outgoing personality is a big reason why O’Neill, who celebrated his 44th birthday Thursday, is able to handle the increased intensity as I’ll Have Another goes for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes June 9th.
O’Neill will head to New York next week and the trainer wanted to make sure the members of Team O’Neill who are at Belmont Park with I’ll Have Another get their due credit.
“The horse is surrounded by people who know what they’re doing and are great horsemen,’’ he said. “He’s being treated like a king. Inosencio Diaz has been his groom throughout. Benjamin Perez is the foreman/walker. Tyler Cerin, who does therapy, is there. Savos Rivera and Jack Sisterson, both assistants, are there. Larry Jones, AKA Thumper, our chiropractor, is there.
“I’ve been in touch with (Sisterson) all throughout every day since I’ve been back in California. He’s raving about how well he’s doing. I get reports from him about 20 times a day. I text him back and forth all day about how he’s eating, what’s going on, is he walking the shedrow right now, everything. I’ve got so many great horses here, too, and it’s a good balance to have the horses here and the champ back there. But I can’t wait to get back,” smiled the trainer.
“His training depends on the weather. The plan is to gallop him up to the race, but if for some reason we have to walk him a few days because of bad weather, then we’ll have to put a breeze into him. If we’re able to gallop strong every day, he’ll gallop right into it.
“(Jockey) Mario (Gutierrez) is scheduled to go back the week of the race, so he’ll ride the whole week at Belmont.”
O’Neill has graciously agreed to be Kurt Hoover’s special guest Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park on The Inside Scoop, a free seminar which begins at 12 Noon at the Paddock Tote Board.
CLEVERLY NAMED COLT DEBUTS FOR TRIPLE CROWN SEEKING TRIO
Cinco de Mario, a play on words for Cinco de Mayo, debuts in Saturday’s second race at Betfair Hollywood Park for Kentucky Derby and Preakness winning connections of owner J. Paul Reddam, trainer Doug O’Neill and jockey Mario Gutierrez.
The bay 2-year-old colt, purchased for $220,000 at the Barretts March Juvenile Sale, is a son of Candy Ride out of the Mr. Greeley mare Sweet and Clever. He has a string of four half-mile drills, capped by a :47 2/5 gate move May 14th. O’Neill calls it “another unbelievable moment in the Team Reddam, Team O’Neill family.’’
As suggested by the colt’s name, the trio’s Kentucky Derby victory with I’ll Have Another came on Cinco de Mayo, May 5th.
ROSARIO OFF HIS MOUNTS THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, EXPECTED BACK SATURDAY
Joel Rosario, grieving the loss of his brother in a traffic accident May 19th, has booked off his mounts Thursday and Friday, according to agent Ronnie Ebanks.
“They already had the funeral, but Joel wanted to stay in Santo Domingo to support his mother,” said Ebanks. “I talked to him before he left and he told me he’ll be flying back Friday night and expects to ride Saturday.”
Ebanks reiterated that out of respect for the family, he didn’t want to disclose any additional details.
WARREN RECOVERING, ACCLAMATION STILL ON TARGET FOR WHITTINGHAM
Don Warren, recovering at home from a septic infection that led to a heart attack, said by phone Thursday that Acclamation is scheduled to work a mile on Cushion Track Friday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
“If he comes out of that work OK, he’ll work another mile the following Friday and run in the (Grade I, $250,000 Charles) Whittingham (Saturday, June 9),” said the conditioner.
Acclamation, last year’s champion older male, had a setback in his training when he took some awkward steps on two different occasions. “We’ve gone over him from top to bottom and can’t find anything wrong with him,” said Warren. “I’d like to stay we fixed a problem, but we never have been able to locate a problem.”
As to his own health, Warren indicated that the infection has cleared up and his test numbers look good. “We had to wait for the infection to clear up before running tests on the heart. That’s next.”
Patrick Valenzuela, who has taken some time off to manage weight issues, will be aboard Acclamation for the drill and expects to return to riding full time next week.
CLOSING STRIDES—Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol have formed the Kobe and Pau Racing Stable and their first starter will be Siempre Mio in Saturday’s sixth race at Betfair Hollywood Park. The pair individually purchased 25% of the 4-year-old gelding at a Lakers Foundation charity auction in April. Siempre Mio, trained by Doug O’Neill, won a $25,000 claimer in his last start. Fittingly, his new colors will be gold with a purple “Lakers” emblem and a purple cap……….Rail Trip, the 2009 Hollywood Gold Cup Winner worked five furlongs from the gate in 1:00 3/5 Wednesday for trainer Ron Ellis in preparation for his first start of the year in Monday’s $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap. The day before, Cashcall Futurity winner Liaison, who finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby in his last start, worked the same distance in 1:00 for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Also working Tuesday were Nereid (1:03 4/5), tuning up for Monday’s Grade I, $250,000 Gamely Stakes and recent Mervyn LeRoy Handicap winner and Gold Cup hopeful Morning Line (1:14 1/5) for trainer John Shirreffs……… SOJA headlines this week’s Friday Night Live Concert Series. The concert begins after the final race, approximately 10:30 p.m. Admission is $10 prior to 8:30 and $20 after……..Heading into Thursday’s program, 32 people remained alive in the Show Me the Money Contest.