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2012 Preakness: Judging by morning gallops, I'll Have Another is doing great
Mario Gutierrez threw out the first pitch at the Dodgers game in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, and trainer Doug O’Neill will do the same thing at an Orioles game on Tuesday in Baltimore. Paul Reddam was scheduled to be on CNBC on Friday, too, from New York. The celebrity that comes with winning the Kentucky Derby has been instantaneous and, at times, overwhelming for the connections of I’ll Have Another, but by the time the 137th Preakness Stakes rolls around on May 19 at Pimlico, all say the focus will be squarely where it should be, on the racetrack.
“I’m a little bit tired. I’m trying not to say no to anyone,” Gutierrez, who rode I’ll Have Another to the Derby victory on Saturday at Churchill Downs, said during a national teleconference on Thursday. “It’s been great exposure. I’m trying to enjoy it. But we still have a big race coming up.
“This has absolutely changed my life, but hopefully everybody understands that racing is my career, and I want to be focused on the big race coming up.”
Indeed, as gratifying as a Derby victory can be, the whirlwind of the Triple Crown ramps up inexorably at Pimlico. No longer is the question – who will win the Derby from amongst a field of 20? Now, it’s simply – can the Derby winner do it again?
“Paul Reddam is a big hockey fan,” O’Neill, the trainer of I’ll Have Another, said Thursday while on the teleconference. “He keeps reminding us it’s the first period. We’re up 1-0. But there’s still two periods to go.”
But, “So far, so good,” with I’ll Have Another, O’Neill said.
“He hasn’t missed an oat in months,” he said. “You can’t afford to have any hiccups when you’re talking the two-week turnaround. He looks fantastic out here.”
I’ll Have Another traveled from Louisville to Baltimore on Sunday, the day after he won the Derby as a 15-1 shot. O’Neill said I’ll Have Another will not have a workout between the Derby and Preakness. But O’Neill lets I’ll Have Another roll along pretty strongly in his daily gallops.
“I’ll Have Another came out of the Derby in fantastic shape,” O’Neill said. “With my lack of knowledge about Churchill Downs and Pimlico, I couldn’t make a case that he’d be better off at Churchill Downs than at Pimlico, so the thinking was to get to Pimlico and get him fit and ready to go.
“He galloped this morning, and I loved the way he went. He’ll have that kind of gallop right up to the race.
“He clips around there with 15-second eighths every morning, just galloping,” O’Neill added. “He covers a lot of ground without a lot of effort.”
O’Neill returned briefly to Southern California after the Derby, but he is now in Baltimore and will remain there through the Preakness. Gutierrez is scheduled to visit Hastings in Vancouver, B.C., over the weekend. He said he plans on arriving in Baltimore several days before the Preakness to familiarize himself with Pimlico, but downplayed that it was any big deal, even though he has never ridden there before.
“All tracks are the same, dirt, a circle,” Gutierrez said. “I’ll gallop a few, just prepare like I did for the Kentucky Derby.”
In Louisville, Reddam rented a house for O’Neill’s staff, including hot walkers, grooms, and exercise riders, and the same arrangements have been made in Baltimore. O’Neill joked that he has been “tossing around some bread rolls with the boys” to get his arm in shape for throwing out the first pitch next Tuesday night.
Besides that perk, O’Neill said Maryland Jockey Club officials were attempting to arrange a visit to summer camp for the Baltimore Ravens.
“They’re treating us like celebrities,” O’Neill said, “and hopefully they will until they realize we’re not.”
As of Thursday, there were 17 horses still under consideration for the Preakness, but fewer are expected to be entered on Wednesday. The Preakness has a maximum field of 14, plus two also-eligibles.
Two potential Preakness runners – Teeth of the Dog and Zetterholm – are entered in the Peter Pan Stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park, but Teeth of the Dog is expected to scratch in favor of the Preakness.
Unlike the Derby, which solely uses graded earnings for an oversubscribed field, the Preakness uses a convoluted, three-tiered process. The first seven of the 14 starters are determined by graded stakes earnings. The next four are those who have the most earnings in non-restricted stakes. The next three – as well as the two also-eligibles – are based on lifetime earnings.
Baffert is smart to keep Bode at Churchill, Preakness or not. As soon as he sees I'll Have Another again his heart will shrink to the size of a pea...
Bodemeister - Yes, ran astonishing race, but it has been overblown. He did NOT run those insane fractions on a normal, fair racetrack surface. He was helped to those wicked fractions by a track that was playing like an ice rink with a tailwind. Most of the colts behind him wore themselves out chasing a sick pace. I'll Have Another didn't. If Bode gets away with an easier pace at Pimlico, so will I'll Have Another, sitting off him!!!!! It will be easier, not harder, for IHA to stay in striking distance! If Bode is learning that it's acceptable to run like a quarterhorse, it's his own funeral. Part of being a top racehorse is using your energy intelligently, not wildly. Many gifted horses have met their downfall because their connections have not taught them to harness their gifts. They just think they are playing to the horse's strengths by letting him fly to the first turn. That works for a while, but catches up to him in the end. Their horses often end up getting speed-crazy, even though they didn't start out that way! Then they go over the top and are never the same again and are retired to avoid further embarrassment. Hope Bode doesn't follow the pattern. Meanwhile, this was obviously a weakness, not a plus, in the Derby, and I don't know why he gets extra points and kudos from people for blowing his own race by running like a maniac. Besides, almost no other horses covered as little ground as he did in the race. This further flatters his result. All predictions in racing are guesses, but the guess here is that "I'll Have Another" doesn't just refer to a cookie, it refers to another Triple Crown race.
Every time I see pictures of this horse, I have deja vu . He reminds me so much of Funny Cide. His color, his tactical speed, and his gritty, determined stretch runs are all shades of the "Gutsy Gelding". I am hoping that he wins the Preakness, to give horse players, fans, and the industry something to cheer for about come Belmont day. However, the way Went the Day Well raced, and more importantly, his incredible gallop out at Churchill, makes me think he is primed to upset. I better just crush the exacta box.
The New York Times article about O'Neill does not paint a pretty picture. Horse racing has already suffered through the Dutrow saga. Now this. The article states that of the top 20 U.S. trainers in 2011 by purses won, only two had no medication violations: Christophe Clement and Graham Motion. I think I may be rooting for Went the Day Well in the Preakness.
Credit to all the connections for the Derby winner. O'Neil has had an unbelievable record as a trainer on the SoCal circuit for a number of years. I've watched Derbies since the early 80's and I've never seen a swing in odds for the 2 betting favorites in the final 2 minutes as we saw this year. I think it's suspicous that a 4-1 breaks bad and odds go up an a 5-1 breaks sharply and the odds go down 2 notches.
Iha had a perfect storm set up. A talented horse being rated perfectly, behind a horse with as much talent, but more speed. All things being equal, most handicappers believe it was the pace, not the horse that got Bode beat. And because the Derby is not a match race, where Bode would beat anyone anywhere, kudos to the winner.
More Pro-Bode articles please!!! In fact, Why publish anything complementary about I'll Have Another, all the wise guys/drf staff think I'll Have Another is fluke,, We all know how much DRF is totally marking out over Bode's Runner Up finish! The Fake mythical Kentucky Derby Mile was won by Bodemeister in record win, Impressive to all!!! Hall of Fame performance for a mythical race, worthy of all the praise by horse racing journalists,,, In other news, I'll Have Another won the real Kentucky Derby and will be remember for All Time,,,,,,,bodewho
I have said it before, O'Neil had a class horse on his hands, and he trained and racd this horse PERFECTLY with workouts and all up to the Derby, his win was no fluke, and now continues to make the right moves by getting the horse there to Pimlico, and galloping a razor sharp horse into the Preakness magnificent training, he should improve in the Preakness. as yo wheather he can catch Bode at a shorter distance, I don;t know nobody does, but Bode might regress a little (Maybe) he has ran hard and worked hard, how good he is we will see, But I'll Have Another,I will guarantee you will run his eyeballs out in the Preakness, he has the condition edge...
Best of luck to team 'I'll Have Another". Go guys!!
O'Neill's MIlkshakes brings the horses to the barn and his is better then yours. Under investigation once again for milkshaking a horse in California. Celebrate the crooks.