05/24/2012 3:46PM

Belmont Stakes 2012: Young assistant lands on big stage with I'll Have Another

Jerry Dzierwinski/Maryland Jockey Club
Assistant trainer Jack Sisterson (left) leads I’ll Have Another to the track for training on May 9 at Pimlico.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Jack Sisterson was a member of the University of Louisville’s men’s soccer team in 2006 when his team traveled to New York for a match against St. John’s.

The schedule allowed for a day of sightseeing. While most of Sisterson’s teammates went to visit the Empire State Building or Ground Zero, Sisterson and a buddy took a taxi to Belmont Park.

“You got to get your priorities right,” said Sisterson, who two years later graduated Louisville with a degree in equine administration. “I never would have thought six years later I’d be going back with a potential Triple Crown at stake.”

[I’LL HAVE ANOTHER: Derby, Preakness winner runs for Triple Crown]

Sisterson, 27, is part of the team helping prepare I’ll Have Another for the June 9 Belmont Stakes and a run at racing’s Triple Crown, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in 34 years. Sisterson is an assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill and is currently the one overseeing I’ll Have Another’s preparation while O’Neill headed home to California for a week following last Saturdays’ Preakness.

Sisterson, 27, grew up around racing in England, where his parents owned and raced horses. Sisterson had a dream of becoming a jockey, but grew too tall – he’s 6 feet 2 inches – to continue the pursuit.

Sisterson came to the United States in 2004 to attend Louisville. In the summers, he has worked for trainers Todd Pletcher and Eddie Kenneally as well as Legacy Bloodstock.

In 2010, he went to work for O’Neill.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic to have a boss like Doug,” Sisterson said. “He’s such a great horseman, such a great boss. Not only does Doug take care of the horses fantastic, he helps us succeed with our goals. He keeps the spirits high. We can’t call it work. This has been like a vacation for us.”

Of Sisterson, O’Neill said: “He’s been around horses his whole life. He doesn’t do anything without consulting me anyway, but I think he’s a future in star in the game and he’s a great asset.”

Sisterson has been at Belmont since Sunday afternoon after I’ll Have Another vanned from Pimlico to Belmont Park.

I’ll Have Another walked the shed Monday and Tuesday, but returned to the track Wednesday and Thursday, where he jogged one-lap around Belmont’s 1 1/2-mile track alongside his high-profile stable pony, Lava Man. He was scheduled to resume galloping Sunday.

“He looked super, his energy level’s high, he’s doing everything we want to see him doing,” Sisterson said. “He’s just a happy horse.”

While Sisterson has aspirations of training on his own one day, he is quite happy being where he is at the current time.

“I’m blessed that Doug has put me in this position,” Sisterson said. “I’m somewhat young. A lot of people would give an arm and a leg to be in this position. It’s all because of Doug.”

[BELMONT STAKES: Video updates, expected field, early odds]

Scott Hinckley More than 1 year ago
I'll Have Another will be carrying a lot of "weight," what with everyone and his brother/sister jumping on his bandwagon. Watchmaker pegging him at 3/5 is scary. Odds-on anchor in the Belmont Stakes should be reserved for a clone of Secretariat. Superior Mario better plan on wiring the field; that's how the last 4 Triple Crown winners triumphed at Big Sandy (as pointed out by Saint Andrew). Daunting but do-able. Mucha suerte, Mario.
marktoothaker More than 1 year ago
I was fortunate enough to have Jack work with me at Legacy Bloodstock. Jack is a very Sharp horseman who has a fantastic personality and work ethic. There is no doubt he will one day take his place among Americas elite trainers. Best of luck my friend, go make some history June 9th.
Alan More than 1 year ago
Great, another assistant who will learn from Druggie Dougie in making "milkshakes". Make mine a chocolate one, Doug!
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
He looks terrific!!
Anthony Reid More than 1 year ago
nice horse i hope he wins the triple crown,I just thinks its unfair to me if a horse does not race in the first two legs of the triple crown i dont think they should be allowed to spoil the party....trying to beat a tired horse in the derby......but ill have another...is ready for them.....SIRNEIL
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
My sister found a terrific clip of Lava Man, IHA's lead pony, after 'work.' Thought you folks might get a kick out of it. I sure did. :D http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GESVqzDQEuM&feature=player_embedded
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
Drat. That link is messed up. I'll try it again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GESVqzDQEuM Love it!
MICHEL More than 1 year ago
The only way IHA doesnt win the belmont is that he doesnt start NOBODY will beat him
babessosexy More than 1 year ago
Cheater O'neill has been caught four times shoul have been a lifetime banned!!
Mike More than 1 year ago
I hope you've posted the same type of comments when Pletcher, Assmussen, etc. got their medication positives!
redboy More than 1 year ago
Street Life Deep close!
jaime More than 1 year ago
grindstone pedigree makes you go hmmm
STEPHEN MERCIER More than 1 year ago
Murphys Law is waiting in the wings....watch Silver Charm Belmont for a reminder
Tom Gregory More than 1 year ago
or real quiet or smarty jones or big brown or charismatic - strange things happen in the belmont - it's like the gods of horseracing will only accept a great horse as a triple crown winner - is iha a great horse? not sure but he is the grittiest horse since affirmed.
jaime More than 1 year ago
Doing all the right things, peaking at right time. Dangerous!!
Glenn Sorge More than 1 year ago
Good story, Doug is right. Jack will be a super star in the sport one day. Kind, great horse sense, and attitude.........See you in NY Jack.