Updated on 09/17/2011 10:11AM

He's running all over the world


ARCADIA, Calif. - Throughout the world, trainer Doug O'Neill has horses in four stakes this weekend.

Avanzado starts in the $2 million in Dubai on Saturday morning, Pacific time. That afternoon, FJ's Pace will run in the $200,000 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita.

Sunday, Excessivepleasure starts in the $500,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park in New Mexico, and Meguial runs in the $75,000 Santa Lucia Handicap at Santa Anita.

O'Neill knows how lucrative a victory in the Golden Shaheen Sprint could be for his young family.

"We've got a chance to go from renting a house to buying a house in about a minute and nine seconds," O'Neill said.

O'Neill is tied for third in the standings at Santa Anita with 20 winners. He has won big races in the past - notably the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup last summer with Sky Jack - but seldom has this many stakes horses starting on the same weekend.

"This is incredible," he said. "We need to pull off one and hopefully it will be early Saturday."

O'Neill chose to stay home, but sent assistant trainer Leandro Mora to Dubai. The two have been in close contact in the last few weeks, leaving O'Neill confident that Avanzado can play a leading role in the Golden Shaheen, which is run over a straight six furlongs.

The Golden Shaheen is Avanzado's first start since he won the Palos Verdes Handicap on Jan. 26, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 117.

"It's tough when you haven't seen them in 10 days, but I've talked to Leandro every day and the horse seems to be doing okay," O'Neill said.

FJ's Pace is a more blue-collar sprinter. An 8-year-old gelding, FJ's Pace won an optional claimer on March 1 when entered to be claimed for $100,000.

"He's training unbelievably," O'Neill said.

Sunday, Excessivepleasure will make his second start of the year at Sunland Park. He previously finished second to Mr. Decatur in the Borderland Derby there. While Excessivepleasure is nominated for the Triple Crown, he is more likely a candidate for the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for California-bred 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park on April 26.

"That's our next goal if everything goes perfectly," O'Neill said. "I think Spensive is the horse to beat, and the horse that just beat us. I think we can turn the table with a little different strategy. We have Pat Day."

Also on Sunday, Meguial makes her stakes debut in the United States following a victory in a first-condition allowance race on Feb. 26. In Argentina, she was second or third in three Group 1 races.

"We know she can run with the better horses," O'Neill said. "She's already proven to be a Grade 1 horse. I think she will be my best chance of winning."

Siberland out until mid-summer

Excessivepleasure is one of the few proven 3-year-old California-breds still in training.

Thursday, trainer Kevin Lewis said that Siberland, a three-time stakes winner in the last seven months, is out of training until the summer because of foot problems.

The runner-up in the Turf Paradise Derby, Siberland ran sixth in the San Felipe Stakes on March 16, his most recent start.

Lewis said Siberland has a quarter crack and said that he will be pointed for a summer return, possibly at Del Mar. "We'll probably give him 60 to 90 days," he said. "We'll just have to see how he progresses."

Last week, Crackup, the winner of the California Cup Juvenile, was taken out of training after undergoing surgery to have bone chips removed from his ankles. He is expected back in late summer or early fall.

Buddy Gil preps for Santa Anita Derby

Buddy Gil, the winner of the San Felipe Stakes, worked five furlongs in 59 seconds on Thursday. The time was the second fastest of 29 recorded works at the distance.

Gary Stevens was aboard for the workout, the colt's first since the race.

"We weren't looking for anything fast," Stevens said. "He was completely fit. It comes very naturally for him."

Trained by Jeff Mullins, Buddy Gil is a top contender for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby over 1 1/8 miles on April 5. The likely favorite is Atswhatimtalknbout, who finished a fast-closing second in the San Felipe Stakes in his stakes debut.

Atswhatimtalknbout schooled in the starting gate and jogged on Thursday at Santa Anita. Trainer Ron Ellis described the starting gate schooling as a precaution, saying that the colt had been "playful" in the gate in the past.

"I schooled him with another horse," Ellis said. "I don't need to take him back before the race. I just wanted to cover my bases. Sometimes when he's gotten in there, he thinks its playtime."

Aside from Atswhatimtalknbout and Buddy Gil, the probables for the Santa Anita Derby include Domestic Dispute, Indian Express, Kafwain, Ministers Wild Cat, and Ocean Terrace. Iron Lad and Logician are being considered, but will be longshots

Trainer Bob Baffert will start three - Domestic Dispute, Indian Express, and Kafwain. Indian Express was added to the field earlier this week. A winner of two races in Panama last fall, he finished fourth in the San Pedro Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs in his U.S. debut on March 22 and has never raced beyond that distance.

Johnston begins riding in California

Mark Johnston, the journeyman rider who has won more than 3,000 races, launches his Southern California career on Saturday with three mounts on the 10-race program.

Johnston, 32, rides Honeyofascore in the first race, So Ruthless in the second, and Yes We Do in the ninth. He intended to arrive in Southern California in early April in preparation for a start at the Hollywood Park fall meeting but moved the date forward.

- Gambling Rent won the first race on Thursday, a two-furlong dash for 2-year-olds, giving freshman stallion Renteria his first winner. Gambling Rent races for trainer Jerry Dutton and his wife, Barbara. They own Renteria, who stands at their Hi Horse Ranch in Caldwell, Idaho, for $1,000.