I'll Have Another made it to the track May 9 for the first time since his upset win in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) four days earlier, jogging around muddy Pimlico Race Course.
Trainer Doug O’Neill’s staff liked what the saw as the son of Flower Alley began preparations for his next assignment in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 19.
Reddam Racing’s I’ll Have Another was limited to walking for the first three days following the Derby. But on Wednesday, exercise rider Johnny Garcia took the chestnut colt out for a tour of Pimlico at 8:30 a.m., immediately following the renovation break. With a lead pony alongside he jogged once around the course, then headed back to Barn D, where he cooled out, was given a bath and returned to his stall.
“He was great. He jogged good. He feels good,” Garcia, 26, said.
From the gap at the top of the stretch, O’Neill’s assistant, Jack Sisterson, watched I'll Have Another move down the stretch, past the finish line and around the first turn before be disappeared from view. A few minutes later, Garcia and I’ll Have Another reappeared as they approached the second turn.
“He got over the ground really well, his ears were pricked and he was full of energy,” Sisterson said.
The O’Neill team felt that I'll Have Another came out of the Derby in terrific shape and has been watching him for any signs of fatigue. He passed another test Wednesday.
“His energy level is fantastic, something that we want to see his first time back on the track,” Sisterson said. “You wouldn’t want to see him with his head down going along there.”
After three quiet days, I’ll Have Another was interested in stretching his legs a bit.
“As soon as he knew he was going back to the track, he was full of energy,” Sisterson said. “He knows what he’s doing. Obviously, he couldn’t wait to get back out there. It’s as if he’s never had a race. He’s doing fantastic.”
Sisterson oversaw the shipping of I’ll Have Another from Kentucky to Maryland May 7 and said everything has gone smoothly at Pimlico. The colt settled in at Barn D, is eating well and appeared to be comfortable on the muddy track.
Sisterson said he’s most impressed with I’ll Have Another’s ability to adapt to what he encounters.
“It’s the way he takes it all in,” he said. “We shipped him into Kentucky and it was like he was stabled his whole life there. He came out of the race as if he never ran. He shipped great. He went out to the track fantastic this morning.
“If after he won the Santa Anita Derby we got a pen out and wrote down what we would like to see, he’s showing us that.”
Garcia, a member of O'Neill's staff for the past five years after moving from Mexico to California in 2003, has been aboard I’ll Have Another daily since the colt arrived at O’Neill’s barn at Santa Anita Park last year.
“I remember getting on him the first time. He felt good,” Garcia said. “I told everybody, ‘I like that horse.’ He’s got a long stride and when he’s breezing, he is very impressive. I said, ‘Maybe this horse is really good.’’’
I’ll Have Another broke his maiden July 3 at Betfair Hollywood Park and finished second to Creative Cause in the Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) Aug. 7 at Del Mar. He ended his juvenile campaign with a sixth-place finish in the Hopeful (gr. I) in the mud at Saratoga Race Course Sept. 5. He is perfect in his three starts this year, winning the Robert B Lewis (gr. II) and the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) prior to his 15-1 upset at Churchill Downs.
I’ll Have Another is expected to train Thursday morning at 8:30, after the renovation break. O’Neill will be present to supervise Preakness preparations after arriving from Southern California, where he has been since the day after the Derby.
Elsewhere, trainer Bob Baffert’s two Kentucky Derby participants, Bodemeister (second) and Liaison (sixth), returned to the track at Churchill Downs May 9 for the first time since Saturday’s race.
Zayat Stables and Michel and Tiffany Moreno’s Bodemeister was first out at 6:30 on a mild, clear morning. The Arkansas Derby (gr. I) winner jogged a mile under George Alvarez with assistant trainer Jim Barnes alongside on a pony.
Arnold Zetcher’s Liaison followed 15 minutes later for the same exercise.
Both colts are considered as possible for the Preakness, but no decision will be made until Baffert returns to Louisville from Southern California this weekend.
A third Baffert possible Preakness performer, Zayat Stables’ Paynter, galloped 1 ½ miles after the morning renovation break with Alvarez up.
Donegal Racing’s Dullahan, a fast-closing third in the Kentucky Derby, returned to the track Wednesday as well. With exercise rider Faustino Aguilar up, Dullahan jogged twice around shortly before the track closed at 10 a.m.
Also returning to the track was the Albaugh Family Stables Cozzetti, the fourth-place finisher in the Arkansas Derby who had worked five furlongs in 1:01 May 7. Under exercise rider Romero Cordache, Cozzetti jogged twice around shortly after the track opened at 6 a.m.
Dullahan is under consideration for the Preakness while Cozzetti is termed probable by trainer Dale Romans.
Dr. Kendall Hansen and Skychai Racing’s Hansen , ninth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, jogged a little more than a mile Wednesday morning at the Trackside Training Center with regular exercise rider Joel Barrientos up. It was the first day back to the track since the Derby for the Mike Maker trainee.