“I’m just very pumped the way our colt is settling in and training,” O’Neill said. “I really look for him to repeat in the Preakness.”
“He had great energy today and his normal long, beautiful stride,” O’Neill said. “We’re very happy with the way things are going.”
After the gallop, O’Neill and his staff schooled I’ll Have Another in Pimlico’s indoor paddock. O’Neill said he liked the way the colt acted in that space and will take him there before the Preakness.
“The game plan now will be to saddle downstairs there and then go out on the turf course where they do the ‘riders up,’” O’Neill said. “I like it breaking up the monotony a little bit and we saddle these guys in stalls seven days a week. I just don’t want to saddle him in the wide-open if we don’t have to. They offered that opportunity to saddle in the stalls. I’d like to keep that consistent.”
I’ll Have Another’s chestnut coat glowed in the bright sun like a new penny and O’Neill said that he likes everything about what the colt is showing him at the midpoint between the Derby and the Preakness.
“He came out of the Derby in incredible shape, so he has been able to maintain his energy, his appetite,” O’Neill said. “He’s a phenomenal horse, obviously. You don’t win the Derby unless you are a phenomenal horse. The way he has settled in here and continued his energy is incredible. Today after schooling he was bucking and playing going back home. He looks and feels as good as he ever has.”
O’Neill and his staff are enjoying their time in Baltimore and are taking advantage of the opportunities that have come their way. Following training hours Saturday, the group ran in the Preakness 5K. O’Neill’s high-profile, multi-millionaire stable pony, Lava Man, also participated, serving as Grand Marshall while leading the field of runners in the first leg of the race around the Pimlico racetrack.
Team O’Neill shipped I’ll Have Another from Churchill Downs to Pimlico two days after his Derby victory and the veteran trainer said that Barn D at Pimlico has a laid-back atmosphere similar to his stable in California.
“It’s pretty quiet at Hollywood Park; Churchill was kind of a zoo,” O’Neill said. “Right now it almost feels like we’re at a training center, it’s such a quiet, nice environment. I think it’s been a huge help, after the chaotic Derby week, to have a nice, mellow few days here. I’m sure it will get going pretty hot and heavy next week, but to have this little breather has been beautiful.”
O’Neill said I’ll Have Another is “a happy camper,” and is pleased he decided to break the form of recent Derby-winning trainers and ship to Pimlico as early as possible.
“No matter what happens, I feel 100 percent certain that we made the right call,” O’Neill said. “The track is in great shape. Everything is ready for us here. We show up here and there are breakfast burritos and coffee. They are treating us like kings here. It’s been awesome for the team and awesome for the horses.”
TEETH OF THE DOG – J.W. Singer LLC’s Teeth of the Dog breezed five furlongs in 1:01 under exercise rider Paul Madden Saturday morning at Fair Hill Training Center.
“He worked real well and galloped out real good. We’re all set for next Saturday,” said trainer Michael Matz, who had entered Teeth of the Dog in Saturday’s Peter Pan (G2) at Belmont Park but scratched when assured that the son of Bluegrass Cat would qualify for the 14-horse Preakness field.
Joe Bravo, who guided Teeth of the Dog to a maiden victory at Gulfstream and a third-place finish in the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct, has the Preakness mount.
ZETTERHOLM – Winter Park Partners’ Silver Train colt boarded a van bound for Pimlico after his morning exercise at Aqueduct Saturday.
Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., who sent the New York-bred colt to the track for a once-around gallop, said Zetterholm is scheduled to work six furlongs at 8:30 a.m. Sunday at Pimlico. The colt was entered in the Peter Pan (G2) Saturday at Belmont Park but was scratched in favor of the Preakness.
Dutrow said that the colt’s regular jockey, Junior Alvarado, will ride the colt in the 137th Preakness Stakes.
“We’re ready to roll,” Dutrow said.
Zetterholm, winner of three consecutive races, will be Dutrow’s third Preakness horse . He won his debut with Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown in 2008 and Yawanna Twist was fourth in 2010.
BODEMEISTER/LIAISON – Zayat Stables LLC and Michel and Tiffany Moreno’s Bodemeister, runner-up to I’ll Have Another in last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1), visited the starting gate and then galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider George Alvarez on a mild Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.
The Bob Baffert trainee had his exercise following the 8 o’clock renovation break for track maintenance.
Arnold Zetcher’s Liaison, sixth in the Kentucky Derby, galloped 1 ½ miles under Alvarez before the morning break.
Baffert is expected to be at Churchill Downs on Monday morning. The Preakness status of both colts will not be determined until Baffert arrives.
After Bodemeister completed his morning activity, Peachtree Stable’s Mamma Kimbo, undefeated in two starts and winner of the Fantasy (G2) in her most recent outing, worked a bullet five furlongs in :59.60 in preparation for an anticipated start in Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2).
With jockey Shaun Bridgmohan up and working over a fast track, Mamma Kimbo produced fractions of :12, :23.80, :35.40, :47.60 and galloped out in 1:12.60. Of the 17 works at the distance, the next fastest clocking of the morning was 1:01.80.
“Bob said he wanted 59 and change and out in 1:12 and change and that’s what we got,” said Jim Barnes, assistant to Baffert. “That’s her.”
COZZETTI – The Albaugh Family Stables LLC’s Cozzetti galloped 1 ½ miles at Churchill Downs under exercise rider Romero Cordache.
Fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his most recent start, Cozzetti is scheduled to work Sunday for trainer Dale Romans. It would be Cozzetti’s third work since the Arkansas Derby.
“He’s a nice horse but he needs to step up and run like he trains,” said Romans, who won the Preakness last year with Shackleford.
Jose Lezcano, who has been aboard for Cozzetti’s past two starts, has the call in the Preakness.
TIGER WALK – Sagamore Farm’s Tiger Walk galloped 1 3/8 miles at Kevin Plank’s historic Glyndon, Md. Farm Saturday morning.
Trainer Ignacio Correas will ship the son of Tale of the Cat to Pimlico Sunday morning for a workout at 8:30 following the renovation break.
“Most likely, he’ll go an easy half,” said Correas, whose colt will be ridden by Horacio Karamanos in the breeze. “I might change my mind before now and then, but that’s what I’m looking for.”
Kent Desormeaux, who dominated the Maryland circuit during the late 1980s, will ride Tiger Walk for the first time in the Preakness.
HIERRO/ISN’T HE CLEVER – Trainer Steve Asmussen’s two potential Preakness entrants, Stonestreet Stables’ Hierro and J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Isn’t He Clever, galloped at Churchill Downs Saturday.
Exercise rider Carlos Rosas was aboard both horses.
Kirk Robison said from El Paso, Texas Saturday morning that a decision on Isn’t He Clever will not be made until after the gelding works Monday morning at Churchill Downs.
“There are a couple of factors in the decision,” Robison said. “Steve wants to see how he works on Monday and we’ll talk about the field. The key thing is we want to put the horse where he belongs.”
Isn’t He Clever, who finished second in the Sunland Derby (G3) before finishing eighth in the Arkansas Derby (G1), has been in Asmussen’s care for four weeks since the race at Oaklawn Park. Prior to that, Isn’t He Clever was trained by Henry Dominguez.
Monday’s scheduled work will be the fourth at Churchill Downs for Isn’t He Clever.
Robison was not tipping his hand about a possible trip to Pimlico next weekend.
“I can get there if I need to be,” Robison said with a laugh.
WENT THE DAY WELL – Team Valor International and Mark Ford’s Went the Day Well was galloped a mile under exercise rider Zeke Castro at Fair Hill Training Center Saturday morning.
Trained by Graham Motion, the fourth-place Kentucky Derby finisher is expected to ship to Pimlico from the Elkton, Md. farm early next week.
John Velazquez will have the return mount aboard the son of Proud Citizen.
CREATIVE CAUSE – Heinz Steinmann’s colt jogged a mile and galloped a mile Saturday morning at Hollywood Park and remains a candidate for the Preakness Stakes.
Trainer Mike Harrington said that the multiple graded-stakes winner and fifth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby was doing well training at his home base in California.
HANSEN – Dr. Kendall Hansen and Skychai Racing’s Hansen galloped Saturday morning at the Trackside Training Center under exercise rider Joel Barrientos for trainer Mike Maker.
Ninth in the Kentucky Derby, the 2-year-old champion of 2011 remains a possible candidate for the Preakness with a decision expected Monday or Tuesday.
OPTIMIZER – Five-time Preakness winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent Bluegrass Hall’s Optimizer to the track as it opened at 6 o’clock for a 1 ½-mile gallop under exercise rider Joel Cano.
Eleventh in the Kentucky Derby, Optimizer will be ridden in the Preakness by Corey Nakatani.
Lukas said Optimizer may work before he vans to Pimlico on Tuesday. Rain is forecast for the Louisville area beginning Saturday night and continuing through the day Sunday.
Lukas did work Bluegrass Hall’s Colonial Empress, a candidate for Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2), a half-mile in :47.80 Saturday morning, the second fastest of 53 works at the distance.
PRETENSION – Kidwells Petite Stable’s Pretension galloped 1 ½ miles at Bowie Training Center Friday morning.
Trainer Chris Grove reported Pretension’s Preakness status has yet to be determined but that he is training the Canonero II Stakes winner as though he will run in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.