Doug O’Neill has had his share of notoriety following last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1) triumph with Paul Reddam’s I’ll Have Another.
The Southern California-based conditioner has enjoyed the days following the milestone Derby score on May 5.
“It’s been incredible,” said O’Neill during an NTRA Triple Crown conference call on Thursday. “He came out of the Derby in fantastic shape. He galloped Thursday morning and I loved it. He will gallop up to the race.
“Like every sport, you have to stay injury free,” he added. “The horse’s appetite has remained strong. He’s sound. Fortunately, we haven’t had any hiccups. He looked fantastic out there today.”
O’Neill is enjoying the busy schedule and opportunities coming his way. Among them, he has accepted an invitation to throw out the first pitch of next Tuesday night’s game between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
“I’m having an absolute blast,” O’Neill told Maryland Jockey Club Publicity. “I did the Jim Rome Show. I did all these cool interviews. I was at the Lakers game the other night and they interviewed us, Mario and I. It’s been an absolute dream. Who knows if we’ll ever do this again? Hopefully, we’ll do this multiple times, but we’re soaking it all up and enjoying every moment of it.”
O’Neill arrived at Pimlico about 30 minutes before I’ll Have Another’s visit to the track on Thursday.As far as becoming the first horse since Florida-bred Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown, O’Neill remains optimistic that I’ll Have Another can maintain his current form.
“I know he has stamina. I know he has heart,” O’Neill said. “It’s just a matter of being lucky and staying healthy. I don’t see any reason why he can’t repeat the same form.”
Doug’s brother, Dennis, bought the Flower Alley colt out of the OBS April Sale last year for $35,000.
“It’s unbelievable,” O’Neill said. “Dennis is self-taught, but he has a really good eye for these two-year-olds in training sales. He ran this one by Paul. He runs a lot of them by Paul. Dennis had a lot of confidence in this colt. We’ve had a lot of success with these kinds of horses.”
O’Neill shipped I’ll Have Another just two days following his Derby victory.
“The thinking was to get to Baltimore as soon as we could,” he said, “and get him primed and ready for the Preakness. He’s a brilliant horse. We’re pumped and excited about the Preakness.”
Doug O’Neill/Reed Palmer photo