STD Racing and Jason Wood’s grade I-winning multi-millionaire Lava Man is scheduled to return to his Hollywood Park base from his unsuccessful trip to Dubai late Wednesday night, trainer Doug O’Neill said.
The 6-year-old gelding, who was an uncharacteristic 16th and last in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IT), will be traveling home along with stablemates Spring at Last, the Godolphin Mile (UAE-I)) winner, and Harvard Avenue, the fourth-place finisher in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I). The trio will spend a couple of days in quarantine before returning to O’Neill’s Hollywood Park shedrow.
“They’ll spend about 72 hours (in quarantine) before they kick them out, I think, on Saturday,” O’Neill said.
According to O’Neill, no decision on where Lava Man turns up next will be made for several weeks, but he’s sure it will be in the California-bred’s home state.
“I think it’s reasonable to say we won’t be leaving California again,” O’Neill said. “I don’t know how long it’ll be before he’ll run again, but we’ll get him home, go over him really good and, like it’s said so often and is so true, we’ll let him tell us how he is through the feed tub and play it by ear.”
Despite the desert defeat, which hasn’t been a common occurrence lately for the former claimer who has now amassed a bankroll of $4,679,706 from a record of 38 starts, 16 wins including four $1-million races, seven seconds, and three thirds, O’Neill remains humbled by his star charge and the huge fan-following he has created around the world.
“It gives you goosebumps,” O’Neill said of the fans. “He is truly an amazing horse. Bottom line is that both the owners and I love this horse to death and we enjoy every moment with him. We’re grateful to have this horse and be part of his history; we’re hoping for a lot more races from him.”
As for J. Paul Reddam and Win Star Farm’s Spring at Last, O’Neill said the 4-year-old colt was in top shape following his 2 3/4-length score in the Godolphin Mile. While the son of Silver Deputyhas shown now that he’s a world-class miler, O’Neill believes his best races may still be at the longer distances.
“He obviously proved he’s an amazing miler,” O’Neill said. “But I think he may be just as good at a mile and an eighth and even a mile and a quarter. We’re very proud of him. He’s another who we’re going to let tell us how he’s doing through the feed tub, but we’ve got a lot to look forward to with him.”
With the $600,000 winner’s share of the Godolphin Mile purse, Spring at Last has now amassed a bankroll of $795,650 with a record of three wins, two seconds, and two thirds in 10 starts.