On Feb. 18, Doug O’Neill was stuck on 13 wins. Over the next 33
racing days, he won 20 races, giving him 33 through Friday and putting
him in a tie for second with Jerry Hollendorfer, five behind leader Bob
Baffert, who is in pursuit of his record 11th Santa Anita title.
O’Neill, whose main focus at the moment is on leading Santa
Anita Derby winner Goldencents to the Kentucky Derby on May 4, won the
training crown at The Great Place three straight meets from 2004-05
through 2006-07, setting the record in the latter campaign with 56 wins.
He won 54 races in 2004-05 and 50 in 2005-06.
O’Neill had sent out 237 starters through Friday, 38 more than
runner-up John Sadler, and attributed his surge in part to sheer volume.
“It’s bound to happen when you run as many horses as we do,”
O’Neill said between training chores on an overcast Saturday morning. “I
think it’s a credit to the owners who let us place their horses in
aggressive spots, and our crew doing a heckuva job. It’s good that we
kind of got things rolling finally.”
O’Neill added that Goldencents, who vaulted among the top
Kentucky Derby contenders with his authoritative Santa Anita Derby win
on April 6, “galloped like a champ today.
“He’ll work here next Wednesday and again eight days later, then ship to Kentucky seven days out.”