05/16/2012 4:05PM

Preakness 2012: O'Neill sticking around Pimlico this time

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Barbara D. Livingston
Doug O'Neill is getting his first extended stay at Pimlico with I'll Have Another running in the Preakness.

BALTIMORE – Doug O’Neill said that before he came to Pimlico last week with Derby winner I’ll Have Another, he had been here only one time – and it was a very brief stay.

It was Preakness weekend 2003, when he sent Maria’s Mirage to run second in the The Very One Stakes. O’Neill flew in from California for the race, but didn’t stay to see it.

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“My son [Daniel] had just been born, and my wife [Linette] had given me a major hall pass to fly east,” O’Neill said. “As soon as I land, she calls and says, ‘Something’s wrong with the child, you have to come home,’ something like whooping cough.
“So I drive over to Pimlico, get out and look at the horse, everything’s good, get back in the car, and fly home. Of course as soon as I get home, she’s like, ‘Oh, everything is fine now.’ And that was my experience with Pimlico before this.”

O’Neill and his crew have been spending plenty of time at the barn, even sometimes in the nighttime, when the sounds of the surrounding neighborhood can be mistaken for what might be heard at a track meet.

“We’ve heard some shots,” said O’Neill. “Sometimes you think they’re running the quarter-finals over there or something.”