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Quotes From Tuesday’s Belmont Stakes Press Luncheon

doug oneill

Connections of some of the Belmont Stakes contenders gathered Tuesday in New York to discuss their charges with the media during the Belmont Stakes press media luncheon at Rockefeller Center.

Mario Gutierrez, rider of Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another: “Turning for home, he loves that. He has the biggest heart and he makes me that confident.”

Doug O’Neill, trainer of I’ll Have Another: “So far, so good. He’s galloped over a lot of sloppy tracks and it doesn’t seem to change his stride, his energy or his will.”

 (Asked about I’ll Have Another’s victory in the February 4 Robert Lewis): “I would have wagered that my brother, Dennis, [owner] Paul Reddam and I would have been on different pages. But right after that we said, ‘Wow, that was such a huge effort off five months. We have the Santa Anita Derby in nine weeks, let’s let him recover from that and just shoot for the Santa Anita Derby,’ and we all agreed.”

Dale Romans, trainer of Dullahan: (Asked if he has qualms about spoiling a Triple Crown bid): “None at all. I’d like to have 120,000 people booing me on the way out. Those are great horses who have won the Triple Crown and I think [I’ll Have Another’s connections] want to earn it. We owe it to the past Triple Crown winners to make him earn it.”

John Velazquez, rider of Union Rags: “I just got on him last Sunday [at Fair Hill training center] and he was just very impressive. I couldn’t have asked for a better work.”

“I’m pretty sure [trainer Michael Matz] just wants him to have a clean trip. Obviously he hasn’t had a very clean trip in his last [two] races. I’d like to ask the racing gods to bring rain, make it wet!”

Ken McPeek, trainer of Atigun and Unstoppable U: “It’s a weird race, and Sarava ($142.50 in 2002) proved it. Da ‘Tara ($79 in 2008) proved it. It’s a great sport because you never know. If you’ve got one that’s eating well, doing well, and you’ve got a client who wants to play the game, that’s what it’s all about. I’ll probably never be a 25 percent trainer because I’m probably more of a home-run hitter than a single or double [hitter].”

–NYRA Press

Doug O’Neill/NYRA photo

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