12/28/2012 6:01PM

Aqueduct: O'Neill starts road to the Derby in the cold

Adam Coglianese
Mudflats will go in Saturday's Jerome off this maiden win.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – As a native of Michigan, trainer Doug O’Neill is well versed in cold weather.

So while he was only here a few hours, the now Southern California-based O’Neill was well prepared for Friday morning’s below-freezing temperatures at Belmont Park.

“This ain’t my first rodeo in the cold weather,” said O’Neill, bundled up with two coats, wearing a ski hat, with hot coffee in hand.

O’Neill was at Belmont Park on Friday morning to watch his newest acquisition, Mudflats, put in his final workout for next Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.

The Little Red Feather Racing partnership purchased Mudflats privately following his maiden victory here at Aqueduct on Dec. 8.

With no transportation to California available until after first of the year, the decision was made to leave Mudflats in New York – he took up residence in trainer David Duggan’s barn – for the Jerome.

“We initially talked about flying him home; because of the holidays there were no flights coming west until the first of the year,” O’Neill said. “At that point we thought with the Jerome here, if he stays injury free and he’s doing good, why not shoot for that? Still, it’s not the ultimate goal.”

The ultimate goal, of course, would be the Kentucky Derby, a race O’Neill won this year with I’ll Have Another.

O’Neill got his first up-close-and-personal look at Mudflats after arriving in New York around 6:30 a.m. following a red-eye flight from California. Mudflats worked shortly after 9:30, following the second renovation break.

Mudflats, under jockey Junior Alvarado, worked six furlongs in 1:15.39, breaking off at the half-mile pole and working to the six-furlong pole, which made the work go around two turns. The Jerome is run around two turns, at a mile and 70 yards.

Equipped with a small set of blinkers, which he wore for the first time in his maiden win, Mudflats went his first quarter in 24.06 seconds, the half-mile in 48.82, and got his final quarter in 26.57, working into a bit of a headwind. He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:30.54.

“Junior was real happy with him, visually he looked great,” O’Neill said. “With these winterized tracks they’re a lot more demanding than we’re used to out west, so I think 1:15-and-change is a tremendous work. Ideally, he comes out of it good and the Jerome here we come.”

O’Neill said Mudflats’s maiden win caught the attention of his brother Dennis and assistant trainer Jack Sisterson, who looked into the prospect of purchasing the gelded gray son of Tapit.

“Being by Tapit and winning the way he did and getting the numbers that he did that piqued our interest,” O’Neill said. “I loved the fact the current owners stayed in for a piece – they want to stay along for the ride – which is always a great thing.”

Asked why he felt it was important to be here Friday for the workout, O’Neill said, “We paid a lot of money for him. It’s a serious investment, he’s a serious racehorse. These guys are paying for me to manage and lead the way, so it’s hard to do that over the phone. I wanted to see him, put my hands on him, and watch him go.”

By 11:30 a.m., O’Neill was back at the airport, headed for another cross-country flight to Southern California.

Long River ‘keen’ for Jerome

Long River, one of Mudflats’s chief rivals in the Jerome, also worked Friday morning, breezing a half-mile in 48.07, the fastest of 20 works at the distance. He worked in company with the maiden Valid, who scratched out of a race here Friday to run in a race at Laurel on Monday.

It was the first breeze for Long River since he won a maiden race here by three-quarters of a length on Dec. 15.

Art Magnuson, the New York assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, said Long River has gotten “a lot more keen” since his race.

“He’s run a couple times now,” Magnuson said. “He’s pretty keen, pretty happy; it’s good timing.”

Others expected in the Jerome include Amerigo Vespucci, Notacatbutallama, Siete de Oros, Vegas No Show, and Vyjack.

Mott runners breeze for stakes

Two of trainer Bill Mott’s New York-based horses worked Friday for upcoming stakes on this circuit.

Arena Elvira, pointing to Tuesday’s $75,000 Ladies Handicap, breezed four furlongs in 49.31 seconds over the Belmont training track. Star Harbour, possible for the Boom Towner Stakes on Jan. 9, went four furlongs in 49.87 seconds.

Arena Elvira, who won five consecutive stakes from Aug. 5, 2011 through March 17, 2012, will be making her third start off a layoff for trainer Bill Mott. She was twice beaten by Afleeting Lady in graded stakes at Belmont and Churchill.

“She’s had a couple of races under her now,” said Neil Poznansky, who is overseeing Mott’s New York string. “She’s been training lights out so I’m expecting a big effort.”

Star Harbour recorded back-to-back triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in winning allowance races at Belmont and Aqueduct.

* Aqueduct will be open for live racing Monday, New Year’s Eve, and Tuesday, New Year’s Day. There will be no live racing Wednesday and Thursday.

* An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the horse Mudflats beat in his Dec. 8 maiden win. Mudflats defeated Malachite, not Revolutionary. On Friday, Revolutionary won a maiden race at Aqueduct in which Malachite finished fifth, beaten 23 1/4 lengths.

KissmeCatexoxo More than 1 year ago
You shouldn't be racing horses in below freezing weather. Another reason this sport is making me sick.
Joel Watson More than 1 year ago
You can realax K, it is expected to be 42F for today's races at Aqueduct.
Joel Watson More than 1 year ago
Sorry - typo on relax!
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Hey Little Red Feather Stables, what ever happened to your previous Trainer Don Chatlos?
Craig Mathews More than 1 year ago
They must have fired him. Haven't seen his name in ages.
David Rose More than 1 year ago
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
A son of Tapit should be awesome. Good luck to Mudflats, DO and the connections with a great new year.
IndyOne More than 1 year ago
Another Triple Crown series with Doug O'Neill? Oh boy, what surprises will this year hold?
Geni Geni More than 1 year ago
Patricia, Ever heard of a guy named Todd Pletcher? Trainers as well as owners are allowed to point as many horses as they can afford to the Triple Crown Series. DUH!!!
Patricia Doyle More than 1 year ago
I thought that He's Had Enough was the horse that Doug O'Neill was pointing to the Derby.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Hes Had Enough has already had enough. He was romped in his last and I was not surprised. He came out of the BC Juve with a 9 Ragozin. Violence was sporting 2's and Im sure improved further. Hes Had Enough performed exactly as I expected in his last. Shuffled back from the 1 hole, and not nearly enough 'go' to catch the classier horse. The BC Juve was not that 'strong" of a race for anyone outside of Shanghai. Anyone had a run at him because the race was so well in hand at the end. If you didnt catch my drift, Hes Had Enough isnt a contender. O'Neill is moving on. You should too.
Pom De Terre More than 1 year ago
. " I wanted to see him, put my hands on him, and watch him go.” Yeah, and what did O'Neill put IN him? Two coats- that's a lot of pockets.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Now that's funny. No matter who you are.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
Unnecessary and offensive comment, IMO.
Pom De Terre More than 1 year ago
it's unoffensive and true... 17 charges in 14 states... u want to play, you have to pay
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
The question we need answered is when does Dutrow's 10 year ban start ?
Riddle This More than 1 year ago
When the appeal process timeframe and options run out.....please keep betting against Richard....more profit for me....oh a question to you....how come he keeps winning even under a microscope?
PeterG More than 1 year ago
Because he's found a new drug that's not detected as of yet. Dermorphin (frog juice) went undected for years before they had tests that could find it. How much did unsuspecting bettors lose because there was horses in the races they were betting on juiced up with frog juice? I'd say millions of dollars This is why nobody wants to bet on this sport anymore. Past performances mean nothing when there is horses on drugs in the races.
Jeffries Will More than 1 year ago
If you think this is the case then why aren't you making a fortune on him. The argument makes no sense. It seems everyone has it all figured out!
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Ill tell you how. Because he is so much "under the microscope", that hes doing what he does in clear daylight now! Did you ever think that they stopped going after him once they made a verdict on him? Which would what? Thats right, allow him to continue his savagery WITH the microscope on him. Ignorance is bliss.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Dutrow knows hes an equine criminal and hes laughing everytime he cashes a ticket. What penalty would he pay if he was caught again? Being 'banned' for 20 years?
redboy More than 1 year ago
How many Derbys have you won?LOL
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
As an assistant...ONE. ALSO MANY GRADED STAKES FROM FLORIDA TO NY.. THANKS! Again as an assistant. YOU? And I have 30 yrs around thoroughbreds.
laura ban More than 1 year ago
Way to go Thomas! You're total class, a real horseman!
raymond More than 1 year ago
Better yet, how many house does he own? Opinions are like, you know what. Everybody has one. Good luck Dougie Boy, do your best and keep him healthy and happy. A happy horse is a running one. Oh, by the way, I don't own any houses, but I do have a few x's that do.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Exactly the problem...greed. I'll tell you what we don't have...bad drug tests post race. Not one!
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Dear Doug, you bought the wrong colt from Eddie. Honorable Dillon is the one. But I doubt he's for sale. Have fun chasing Llama
Chris Gile More than 1 year ago
Honorable Dillon hasn't raced since July. How would that have been a better buy?
anthony bennett More than 1 year ago
hes been workin privately.........everything is for sale
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
He beat Delhomme in maiden win. Winstar high on Delhomme. And HD training since Nov. Why waste the effort running too much at two when the big Derby preps start now...
Charles Levy More than 1 year ago
i know u know what u are talkimg about
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Shhh. Thanks Charles. Good luck Friday