Trainer Doug O’Neill
will light up the life of a 23-year-old man with Down Syndrome on Santa Anita Handicap Day this Saturday, as Lawrence Cao has won “A Day With Doug O’Neill,” and will accompany the Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner throughout the afternoon as O’Neill will be saddling a total of four horses in three different races.
A longtime fan, Cao has accompanied his father for numerous years to the track to watch early morning workouts and often imitated jockeys and their styles of riding as a teenager. Cao has much more than a vicarious association with horses, as he is a member of Move A Child Higher (MACH 1), a riding horsemanship program based at the Pasadena Equestrian Center that offers equine assisted activities to riders with disabilities.
Cao and his parents attended the annual MACH 1 Musical Horse Show last June at Flintridge Riding Club and he won “A Day With Doug O’Neill” via a silent auction certificate.
Cao, who has grown intimately involved with the horses he rides on a weekly basis, cools his “mounts” out following his lessons and grooms them as well.
Cao, who is also hearing impaired, figures to have a busy afternoon with the gregarious O’Neill, who among his four starters, will saddle Reddam Racing, LLC’s Recanted in the Grade II, $300,000 San Felipe Stakes (final major steppingstone to the $1 million Santa Anita Derby April 8), and Loan Savant in the $75,000 China Doll Stakes.
For more information on the Pasadena Equestrian Center, located in Pasadena’s Hahamonga Watershed Park, call (626) 798-1222(626) 798-1222
, or email JOYMACH1@YAHOO.COM.