06/01/2012 3:12PM

Belmont Stakes 2012: O'Neill unfazed by outside distractions

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ELMONT, N.Y. – Despite a bevy of negative press – which included an erroneous report that there are separate rules for him than the other trainers competing in the Belmont Stakes – trainer Doug O’Neill is just rolling with the punches.

Maintaining an upbeat attitude, O’Neill said Friday morning, is made easier by how well his horse I’ll Have Another is doing leading up to his date with destiny in the June 9 Belmont Stakes, where he will attempt to become Thoroughbred racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner

“It’s all about the horse,” O’Neill said. “As long as the horse is doing good, we’re all doing great. If he was battling [something] and then [we’re] getting a lot of stuff from other areas it would be difficult. As long as he’s doing good everything else is just kind of talk.”

The scrutiny on O’Neill will only get more intense as the Belmont gets closer. On Friday, he spent time taping a segment with The Today Show. On Monday he will be a guest on “Costas Now,” a talk show hosted by Emmy-Award winner Bob Costas that will air on the NBC Sports Network immediately following Monday’s Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals between the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings.

O’Neill did take issue with a published report that indicated there would be different rules applied to him regarding when his horse can be treated by veterinarians and how those treatments must be reported.

“Whatever they do in the detention barn setting, it’s for everybody,” O’Neill said.

The stewards handed out the rules of the detention barn to all of the trainers on the grounds here Friday morning. Though the horses are not required to be in the detention barn until noon Wednesday, O’Neill plans to move I’ll Have Another – and stable pony Lava Man – into the barn on Monday.

“The earlier we can get there the earlier we can settle in and get used to everything,” O’Neill said.

Friday marked the first day that the Belmont Stakes runners could train during an exclusive 15-minute period designated for them. I’ll Have Another was the first one on the track but was joined by Paynter, Atigun, Unstoppable U, Five Sixteen, and Guyana Star Dweej. Dullahan and Street Life came on when the track was open for everybody.

I’ll Have Another galloped his usual mile, though the last three furlongs of the gallop were a little slower than he had gone in his previous three days.

“He looked good to me coming by,” O’Neill said. “The one thing with the way we gallop they go different depending how they feel that day. The main thing we stress in the last part of the gallop is let them put their feet where they want to put them. Some days that may be clipping along at a faster pace than the previous day.”

Five Sixteen breezes

Belmont longshot Five Sixteen breezed five furlongs in 1:00.95, working in company with stablemate Live for Today.

With jockey Rosie Napravnik up, Five Sixteen, started three-quarters of a length behind but quickly caught up his workmate through a quarter of 25.00 seconds. Five Sixteen finished about a half-length in front, getting his final three furlongs in 35.95.

Napravnik said trainer Dominick Schettino said he “wanted him to start out a little slower and finish up really well and that’s exactly what he did.”

Asked about her horse’s ability to get the 1 1/2 miles of the Belmont, Napravnik said, “I’m sure he’ll be at his best at a mile and a half – whatever his best ends up being.”

Cuvee's Daughter More than 1 year ago
Remember Burna Dette
Richard More than 1 year ago
I became a fan of horse racing in 1997 watching Silver Charm win the first two crowns and then getting beat by Touch Gold. Silver Charm was a great horse and when he was four went and won the Dubai World Classic. Real Quiet being beat by the tip of a nose was the closest I have watched since 1997. I have watched that the horses that take the Preakness off have a big advantage. I would like to see I’ll Have another win but horses like Dullahan, Paynter, Street Life and Union rags are going to be fresh. I think it’s time to stop talking and see what happens. I have been here before!
R. Martin More than 1 year ago
The "Fiddle In The Middle" Betting Theory: Sir Lukas (I suspect) and my brilliant friend, the degenerate bettor "the chinaman", have used this method to successfully put across monster BOMBS over the years. As a trainer, Sir Lukas innumerable times brilliantly reasoned that you can't win if you fail to show up. If you have "a fiddle in the middle" (ie., a horse that is neither an obvious contender nor a hopelessly overmatched beast) you MAY win, if you SHOW UP. My commonsense kamakatsi buddy Chinaman has made monster scores over the years in odd numbered 9 and 11 horse betting fields. Thinking oftentimes is your own worst enemy. If a horse sits 5th favorite in a 9 horse field OR 6th favorite in an 11 horse field, he is unlikely but NOT hopeless. By way of analogy, do you recall the drop dead gorgeous luscious gal which you were too chicken to put the make on, which fell in love with a fiddle in the middle average guy who beat out all the Adonis suitors? My friends, it has happened thousands of times in the past, and will occur in the future just as many times. This 11 horse field has Sir Lukas with his 2012 version of "Fiddle In The Middle---Optimizer". Call me and the Chinaman crazy but we are using an Exacta Round-Robin of Dullahan/Union Rags/Optimizer. This fiddle in the middle plus two is our acknowledgement that The GrandMaster Of HorseRacing Sir Lukas is shrewd as a fox. You can't win if you don't show up. You can't win if you never buck the crowd mentality. Our hats off to you, Sir Lukas, you have forgotten more about horse racing than most fans will ever learn in their lifetimes.
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
Ok, you said it was ok. You and the Chinaman are crazy. IHA is the Joe Frazier of this field. Tougher than titanium nails. Not to say he wins, we'll know in a week. But if he's challenged late it'll go to the wire and you better hope a neck is good enough to knock him to 3rd.
R. Martin More than 1 year ago
Third is as good as eleventh. I give YOU lots of credit, Sam, for at least Conceiving of IHA third or worse. There seems to be a general IHA hysteria & paranoia.
Nick More than 1 year ago
Hey R., I'm the Chinaman and I'm here to tell everybody that you are out of your mind. WTF are you even talking about? Are you taking your meds? Nick Lee
R. Martin More than 1 year ago
Nick, lighten up my friend. I'll take my Valium at your request. All I ask of you is to re-read the 3rd and 4th lines from the bottom: "You can't win if you never buck THE CROWD MENTALITY." Bet the hell out of IHA, but take the cost of a hamburger at the track ($6.00) & ask for a $1 Exacta Round Robin: U. R./Dullahan/ Optimizer. What the hell, you just may beat the crowd. Good luck my friend. P.S.- I'll also offer the real "chinaman" my meds as per your recommendation. Cheers!
Nick More than 1 year ago
R., if I were any lighter, I'd fly away in the breeze. Why can't you type all the way to the right margin? IHA (see all previous KyDerby/Preak winners since late '70s) & Dullahan (see Ice Box, Mine That Bird, Magic Weisner, Aptitude)--neither will win; you heard it here!
R. Martin More than 1 year ago
OK, Nick, just to please you, not only will the legendary Chinaman and I take our Meds, as you attentively suggested; also our tips will now go up to the right margin as well. However, that alone won't make you a profit. Bypassing the $6 hamburger at the track, as suggested above, may. I have taken your two suggestions; hope you take mine. Cheers! We may disagree, but I find you a likeable Chap. Cheers!
Nick More than 1 year ago
Remember, R., you said to say you were crazy. And I did, because I'm an obedient handicapper. Optimizer . . . Pshaw! (or whatever it was that my grandfather used to spit out) Even Woody Stephens couldn't bring home Optimizer first or second in the Belmont Stakes. UR is a good exacta pick. No trainer could blab on and on like Matz if he didn't know his charge was on edge. Street Life/Union Rags/Paynter exacta box. Thanks for the revised typing scheme. The planets are now re-aligned.
Merrill More than 1 year ago
WATCH, and pay attention as I'll Have Another accelerates at the 8th pole and draws away by 7 or 8 widening lengths...................................
"Roy Hobbs" More than 1 year ago
If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that's a straw, you see? You watching?. And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake... I... drink... your... milkshake! Daniel Plainview
Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
The best revenge is success...when you climb the ladder of success, you expose the seat of your pants. I do wish the press would report the findings correctly and not treat the issue as if he had given the horse illegal drugs. The report was clear that he did not do anything to intentionally cause the horse to have elevated levels of CO2, that he was innocent of the charge of "milkshaking" . What he was punished on was the very strict CA rule that says the trainer is ultimately responsible for the horse. Unlike in KY and other places where the trainer can get off scot free while the jockey and the head steward take the heat (a la Pletcher, Life at Ten). This was two years ago in 2010, and of the charges farther back, I don't his were any more egregious than those by the 98% of other trainers who get caught in the snare of the evidently inexact science that can produce readings in the tests from, among other things, the different rates that a horse metabolizes certain substances. I really do wish that O'Neill would issue a press release with a definitive response and let that be out there that would have to be reported along with the generalization that he "is a cheater". The general public needs to know the whole story. And, for the record, I am strongly for getting rid of all raceday meds, including lasix, in a phased-out approach like that recommended by the RCI and the Jockey Club. I am also for the various horse-racing states getting together to come up with a uniform set of rules and standards they can all abide by and be held accountable for. Since they obviously will never give up their sovereignty in favor of a national racing commissioner, at least unify as to the rules governing the health and safety of both the equine and the human athletes.
PhiloSkinner More than 1 year ago
A lot of whining & accusations from east coast punters. Get over it! IHA gonna run away & hide. No meds. No witchcraft. Just a much better colt "& Trainer". Buy your odds/on ticket and have a beer.
R. Martin More than 1 year ago
Might as well buy Groupon, Facebook, Zynga & Netflix. Those pretenders will surely do better than XOM, IBM, JNJ and MCD.
"Roy Hobbs" More than 1 year ago
Philo, I'd like you to tell me that you are a false prophet. Daniel Plainview
Rufus More than 1 year ago
"The horse is doing great." He said the same thing about Burna Dette.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Looks like Cookie keeps his Trainer 'in the zone'.
Tom Smith More than 1 year ago
laughable,, New York has more cheaters than anywhere in the world and they treat O'Neal this way
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
That's why NYRA is projecting their bx onto another, it's distracting. And IHA is not a NY favorite, which is what is making him more endearing to fans in the same way of Secretariat or Seabiscuit.
Susan Ward More than 1 year ago
IHA will do it Saturday! This horse has run 2 picture perfect races. It was just like watching The Biscuit. It's a great story from the young jockey on up. Stop being haters and get ready to watch history being made. I've included my Seattle Slew with Secretariat and Seabiscuit.
Del Donaker More than 1 year ago
O'neil is using chiropractics on I'll Have Another. Won't all the wieners start crying about that now?