Dennis O'Neill at the Keeneland November sale

Dennis O'Neill at the Keeneland November sale

Anne M. Eberhardt

Dennis O'Neill Dips into Weanling Market for St. Elias

Bloodstock agent bought Derby winners I'll Have Another and Nyquist.

Dennis O’Neill is most readily known for his association with Reddam Racing, for whom he purchased eventual Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winners I'll Have Another  (who also won the grade 1 Preakness Stakes) and Nyquist , each trained by his brother Doug.

The bloodstock agent is also best associated with buying 2-year-olds, but he switched gears a bit and dove into the weanling market Nov. 10 at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale for a weanling colt by Liam's Map .

O'Neill, who buys for a few clients and also puts together informal partnerships on horses, bought the Liam's Map weanling for Vincent Viola's St. Elias Stable. Viola is one of the owners campaigning this year's Derby winner Always Dreaming, who is slated for a 2018 return to racing after suffering stomach ulcer problems late this year.

Viola also raced millionaire Liam's Map, winner of the 2015 Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) and Woodward Stakes (G1), and has more than a passing interest in his progeny. Liam's Map stands at Will Farish's Lane's End Farm, where his 2018 stud fee will be $25,000.

"I bought Army Mule for Vinny a couple of years ago and he aired in his only start. He got hurt, but he's due to come back to the track soon. Vinny and I talk all the time and he wants me to buy yearlings for him, but he doesn't race on the West Coast," said the California-based O’Neill. "That was an issue. So we hit upon weanlings and I came in to look at the Liam's Maps for him, and we bought what I consider to be the nicest one I've seen."

O'Neill went to $310,000 to land the colt out of Aqua Regia, a grade 3-placed daughter of Pollard's Vision . The weanling is the first registered foal out of the mare, and was consigned by Tom Evans' Trackside Farm, agent.

O'Neill said that was the first purchase he's made for Viola at the sale, but added he is continuing to look.

"I don't usually buy very many weanlings or yearlings," O'Neill said. "Maybe one or two yearlings per year. You have to project what they're going to look like in a year or two. With 2-year-olds, you pretty much know what you're looking at. It's kind of cool for me; I've certainly seen plenty of weanlings in my life; now I can get out there and project the future with them.

"I think Liam's Map is going to be very, very solid. I've seen a lot of his foals and they look really nice."