Trainer Doug O'Neill plans to saddle I'll Have Another in the indoor paddock at Pimlico Race Course rather than out in the open when the colt goes for the middle jewel of the Triple Crown May 19.
O'Neill sent the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner out for a brisk gallop May 12 following the renovation break at 8:30 a.m.
After the gallop, O’Neill and his staff schooled I’ll Have Another in Pimlico’s indoor paddock. O’Neill said he liked the way the son of Flower Alley acted in that space and will take him there before the Preakness.
“The game plan now will be to saddle downstairs there and then go out on the turf course where they do the ‘riders up,’” O’Neill said. “I like it breaking up the monotony a little bit and we saddle these guys in stalls seven days a week. I just don’t want to saddle him in the wide open if we don’t have to. They offered that opportunity to saddle in the stalls. I’d like to keep that consistent.”
O'Neill continues to be enthusiastic about I'll Have Another's chances in the Preakness.
“I’m just very pumped the way our colt is settling in and training,” O’Neill said. “I really look for him to repeat in the Preakness.”
Under exercise rider Jonny Garcia, Reddam Racing’s Derby winner skipped over the Pimlico surface for the third morning since he resumed galloping.
“He had great energy today and his normal long, beautiful stride,” O’Neill said. “We’re very happy with the way things are going.”
I’ll Have Another’s chestnut coat glowed in the bright sun like a new penny and O’Neill said that he likes everything about what the colt is showing him at the midpoint between the Derby and the Preakness.
“He came out of the Derby in incredible shape, so he has been able to maintain his energy, his appetite,” O’Neill said. “He’s a phenomenal horse, obviously. You don’t win the Derby unless you are a phenomenal horse. The way he has settled in here and continued his energy is incredible. Today after schooling he was bucking and playing going back home. He looks and feels as good as he ever has.”
O’Neill and his staff are enjoying their time in Baltimore. Following training hours Saturday, the group ran in the Preakness 5K. O’Neill’s high-profile, multi-millionaire stable pony, Lava Man, also participated, serving as Grand Marshall while leading the field of runners in the first leg of the race around the Pimlico racetrack.
Team O’Neill shipped I’ll Have Another from Churchill Downs to Pimlico two days after his Derby victory and the veteran trainer said that Barn D at Pimlico has a laid-back atmosphere similar to his stable in California.
“It’s pretty quiet at Hollywood Park; Churchill was kind of a zoo,” O’Neill said. “Right now it almost feels like we’re at a training center, it’s such a quiet, nice environment. I think it’s been a huge help, after the chaotic Derby week, to have a nice, mellow few days here. I’m sure it will get going pretty hot and heavy next week, but to have this little breather has been beautiful.”
O’Neill said he is pleased he decided to break the form of recent Derby-winning trainers and ship to Pimlico as early as possible.
“No matter what happens, I feel 100 percent certain that we made the right call,” O’Neill said. “The track is in great shape. Everything is ready for us here. We show up here and there are breakfast burritos and coffee. They are treating us like kings here. It’s been awesome for the team and awesome for the horses.”