With all the ups and downs Doug O’Neill has experienced over the last
five weeks, one might assume he would need a day or two to catch his
breath. Yet there he was, sitting at the desk in his stable office 7
a.m. Sunday, studying his computer and tending to business as usual.
“I think that’s a sign of how much we all love this game,” said the
now nationally known trainer. “I couldn’t wait to get back.”
O’Neill remarked that future plans are still up in the air, but immediate arrangements for I’ll Have Another have been set.
“He’s coming back (Monday),” disclosed O’Neill. “We’ll continue to
wean him off his grain. It usually takes horses 10 days to two weeks to
wind down. Once he’s ready to go to the ranch, he will. I’d love to
keep him around forever, but he’ll stay with us until he has a final
“I can’t imagine us shipping him to one farm and then sending him to
another farm. Hopefully in the next few weeks, they’ll ink some type
O’Neill discussed the affliction that forced I’ll Have Another to
miss a chance at the Triple Crown. “Tendons are funky injuries,’’ he
said. “He was never sore. It really is like the rubber band analogy;
once they lose natural elasticity, it takes a long time to regain it, if
ever. Where we are, if we gave him the proper time, we’d miss all of
the breeding season next year. And with tendon injuries, sometimes they
come back 60-80 per cent of what they were, and that wouldn’t be fair
to the horse.”
The 44-year-old conditioner talked with gratitude about how much
I’ll Have Another has meant to him. “Any way I can show him thanks is
what I’m trying to do,’’ said O’Neill. “He took us on an amazing run.
My love and respect for horses and horse racing became even greater
because of him.
“It’s been an incredible ride, a real blast,’’ reflected O’Neill.
“Because of I’ll Have Another, we got to do things we never would have
done. The whole journey that happens with the Triple Crown is amazing.
I hope and pray that we’ll have the same type of run with another horse
down the road. We’re taking notes and we’re going to do it again.”