“I’m going to Disneyland,” is the phrase most often associated with the star of a major sporting event shortly after a glorious triumph in the spotlight.
Saturday, following the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby, trainer Doug O’Neill mentioned something about a hot tub to the national television audience watching on NBC. Before the second leg of the Triple Crown takes place at Pimlico in Maryland in two weeks, it seems O’Neill has some pressing business to attend to at home 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 we won the Derby,” O’Neill said. “We are going to have to do some shopping now.”
In all seriousness, O’Neill reported I’ll Have Another is in fine fettle in Barn 3 on Sunday morning, the day after his historical win. He became the first horse in history to win the Derby from post position No. 19.
“The highest of the highs,” O’Neill said. “He looks great this morning and a key thing is he ate up last night after the race.”
I’ll Have Another heads to Pimlico as the latest horse in a position to become the first Triple Crown winner since Florida-bred 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.”
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.”
With a quick turnaround in the Preakness for his Kentucky Derby hero, O’Neill is likely to be busy in the coming days. He may have to save the rest and relaxation of the hot tub until after the Triple Crown.
–Churchill Downs Communications contributed to this report.
Doug O’Neill/Benoit photo