In the week since Reddam Racing's I'll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby,
trainer Doug O'Neill has been a gracious celebrity, taking part in many
interviews, making appearances and posing for photos. Before his colt went to
the track Sunday morning, O'Neill changed roles to a fan, happy to be able to
chat with Ron Turcotte, Secretariat's jockey.
Turcotte was in Maryland for the "Horses in Cinema" festival in Silver Spring and his tour of the Triple Crown races is being filmed for a Canadian documentary. O'Neill and Turcotte met briefly on Kentucky Derby day at Churchill Downs, but they had a much longer conversation at Pimlico."Just to hang out here with him and talk shop with him was goose-bump stuff," O'Neill said. "He was telling us about his ride on Secretariat and how he was last going into the first turn and first coming out of the first turn. We're going to take some tips that he gave us about how to ride the race here and hopefully be successful in doing it."
O'Neill and his staff have been busy since they arrived in Baltimore last week. They attended a Baltimore Orioles game -- he is scheduled to throw out the first pitch for Tuesday's game against the New York Yankees -- participated in the Preakness 5K run Saturday and visited the Baltimore Ravens' rookie camp on Sunday. O'Neill, who had lunch with Ravens' head coach John Harbaugh, was excited about the opportunity to spend some time and have his picture taken with Turcotte in the morning.
"What a thrill to have a legend who is interested in your horse," O'Neill said. "He's so supportive, too. He said, 'I'd love to see another Triple Crown winner.' To have Triple Crown Ronnie there with us is really a dream. I feel like I'm living some type of out-of-body experience.
"Who would have thought? Only a few months ago, I was with my knucklehead friends at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park and here I am with legendary Ron Turcotte and watching our horse train and get ready to try and take the second leg of the Triple Crown."
I'll Have Another went to the track at 8:30 a.m. (EDT) under his regular exercise rider, Jonny Garcia, and turned in a typically sharp gallop around Pimlico.
"We had a great morning," O'Neill said. "We came in to an empty feed tub, ice-cold legs and a horse with a lot of energy. We're very happy with the way things are going so far."
While I'll Have Another was getting in his morning exercise, two other Preakness candidates, Zetterholm and Tiger Walk, put in their final breezes for the race. Zetterholm shipped in from New York Saturday and other Preakness runners will be arriving this week.
"The horses are starting to come in now and that's exciting," O'Neill said. "I love the whole concept with names on the saddle towels, being able to see your competition and watch them go.
"Tiger Walk was out there today and he looked great going by us. It's a race that's going to be full of talented three-year-olds. I just love the way our horse is training. He's got a lot of momentum going into this race."
I'll Have Another will go the track Monday morning at 8:30.
In other Preakness news:
Trainer Mike Harrington confirmed Sunday that Heinz Steinmann's Creative
Cause is headed to the 137th Preakness.
Harrington took the Grade 1-winning gray back to California after his fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, but said he was likely to try the Preakness. After watching the colt for a week, Harrington decided that he was ready for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
"At this point in time, I'm definitely coming," Harrington said. "The only reason I wouldn't come is if something went awry between now and Wednesday morning, when he gets on the airplane. As of now, we're coming."
At Hollywood Park, Harrington sent Creative Cause out for a one-mile jog and then had the exercise rider pick up the pace with a two-minute lick for a mile.
J. W. Singer LLC's Teeth of the Dog was turned out in a paddock at Fair Hill Training Center Sunday morning after breezing five furlongs at the Elkton, Maryland, facility on Saturday.
The son of Bluegrass Cat has made steady development since debuting at Gulfstream Park with a third-place finish in a six-furlong sprint on December 8. The Michael Matz-trained colt broke his maiden in his third start and first race around two turns at Gulfstream before making the jump to Grade 1 company with a third-place finish in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct last time out.
"He just needed some time. He was just a little immature. We started him at three-quarters and that was a little short for him. Once we got him around two turns, and with some more maturity, he was fine," Matz said. "He's matured and hopefully he'll get better as he gets older."
Joe Bravo has the call to ride Teeth of the Dog Saturday.
Kidwells Petite Stable's Pretension galloped 1 1/2 miles at Bowie Training Center Sunday morning.
"We let him gallop out a little bit at the end just to open up his lungs a little," said trainer Chris Grove, whose colt captured the Canonero II Stakes at Pimlico on May 5.
Pretension's status for the Preakness Stakes has yet to be determined.
Owner/trainer William Campbell said that Brimstone Island, runner-up in the Canonero II, is "50-50" to be in the field on Saturday for the 137th Preakness. He is also being considered for a $50,000 allowance at 1 1/16 miles on the undercard.
"He's doing really good," Campbell said Sunday after the son of Tiznow walked the shedrow at Bowie. "I don't really know that even if he did get in it if I'd want to try the Preakness, just for the simple fact that those horses are the best horses in the country. I don't know if my little horse is quite that caliber."
Brimstone Island was a fast-closing second to Pretension in the Canonero II and has won four of 10 career starts with three seconds and a third. He was racing in cheaper company until Campbell claimed him for $16,000 out of an 11 1/4-length victory at Laurel in February. Campbell has run him in four non-graded stakes since then, still seeking his first added-money victory.
Trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal remained hopeful that Guyana Star Dweej will make the 14-horse field, which would give the New York-based trainer his second consecutive Preakness starter. His runner, Isn't He Perfect, finished ninth last year in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
"We'll see what happens," Shivmangal said following the 1ST race at Belmont on Mother's Day. "I'm just waiting to see what's going on there (Pimlico) by Wednesday."
Shivmangal said that the son of Eddington walked the shedrow Sunday and "might work Tuesday or Wednesday" in preparation for the Preakness. Guyana Star Dweej has only a maiden win from nine career starts, that coming two races back at Aqueduct. The Preakness would be the colt's stakes debut.