Trainer Doug O’Neill said I'll Have Another , who is seeking to win the elusive Triple Crown in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), will relocate Tuesday, June 5, to the barn set aside for Belmont contenders.
As part of an enhanced focus on security and monitoring of Belmont horses, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board last week issued guidelines that include requiring all Belmont horses to move to one barn by noon (EDT) Wednesday, June 6.
“I know the other guys will probably hate me for this, but I like the thought of showing the general public all the horses are in the same locker room, they’re all being looked after real thoroughly,” O’Neill said June 4, after I’ll Have Another returned from his customary daily one-mile gallop. “Just the transparency that our game probably lacks is key. You get a lot of commentary from people who don’t know the horses, who don’t know the horsemen, and don’t know how they’re cared for. This way you have everyone in an isolated vicinity and everyone who wants to come and kind of watch what’s going on there and make a judgment from what’s really happening and not guessing what’s going on in that guy’s locker room or that guy’s locker room. I think it’s a good thing.
“The obvious negative thing is a lot of horses do get distracted when they change stalls. It sounds silly, but it happens. Hopefully I’ll Have Another won’t get distracted, that none of the other horses get distracted, they all settle in good, they all present themselves well, and it’s a nice, clean-run race, and at the end of the day people can say, ‘Wow, they were all looked after and they all ran great.’”
O’Neill, who has generated nearly as much publicity about a pending 45-day suspension in California for a medication violation as he has for I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown quest, said he thinks it would be a plus for racing if the Flower Alley colt wins the Belmont.
“If he were to get lucky and win on June 9 I think it would be great,” said O’Neill. “Anything we can do to show what a great game it is, how beautiful these horses are, and how well they’re cared for is, I’m hoping, a positive step.
“One of the problems our industry has, we have a hard time falling in love with horses, because oftentimes, once they get really good, the temptation of the financial end of it is so strong that most of us have to take the money and retire them,” he continued. “Knowing (owner) Paul (Reddam), if the horse is right, he’d much rather see the horse compete, and I think that would be great for the game as I’ll Have Another is gaining more and more fans. It would be nice to see him around for another year or two if the racing gods are looking over him.”
I’ll Have Another’s jockey, Mario Gutierrez, was scheduled to arrive later June 4.
O’Neill said he and the 25-year-old jockey, who rode I’ll Have Another to victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I), will be reviewing tapes of previous Belmonts over the next few days. Gutierrez is scheduled to have a personal tour of Belmont Park with former New York riding champion Richard Migliore on June 7, and on June 8 will ride the O’Neill-trained Boxeur des Rues in the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn Handicap.