Hours immediately after becoming declared as a nominee for the racing Corridor of Fame, and prior to boarding a plane to Dubai on Wednesday, trainer Doug O’Neill provided updates on an array of his prime skills.
O’Neill, a two-time winner of the Kentucky Derby, was for a 3rd time named a finalist for induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He joined fellow trainers Graham Movement, Christophe Clement and John Shirreffs among this year’s nominees.
“What a great honor to be with those guys,” O’Neill explained to Horse Racing Nation. “I love it. A lot appreciated.”
O’Neill was on his way to this weekend’s “Super Saturday” card at Meydan Racecourse, where he will have 6 horses vying for places on the prosperous Dubai World Cup (G1) software this month.
But the true function for the vacation is O’Neill’s preferred Grade 1 winner Hot Rod Charlie. The son of Oxbow arrived at Meydan in late January and promptly took down the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) in impressive fashion on Feb. 4.
“He’s had a couple of is effective back again, and he’ll perform all over again this Friday,” O’Neill said. “According to the boys in the barn, he’s executing really nicely. I just cannot wait to see it with my have two eyes.”
O’Neill could not have scripted a better community prep for Hot Rod Charlie, but the waters will get considerably further for the $12 million principal event March 26. Between his expected levels of competition is Breeders’ Cup Dust Mile and Pegasus Earth Cup (G1) winner Life Is Superior, Midnight Bourbon and the top two finishers from the Saudi Cup, Emblem Road and Country Grammer.
“We’re authentic optimistic about it,” O’Neill explained. “He has a earn in excess of the observe, and the spacing from that race to the Globe Cup is a true reward for us.”
Even though Saturday will be telling in the Middle East for staff O’Neill, closer to house it also has a active working day established at Santa Anita. O’Neill will have 8 starters in 11 races, together with the San Felipe (G2) with Pleased Jack and Worse Study Sanchez, the Kilroe Mile (G1) with Workforce Retailers and the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) with Soy Tapatio.
O’Neill supplied the hottest on those contenders in addition Kentucky Derby prospect Slow Down Andy and Kentucky Oaks contender Awake At Midnyte for this HRN Barn Tour.
Pleased Jack. A debut winner at Santa Anita this 12 months, the son of Oxbow headed straight to the Derby trail in past month’s Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita and available little resistance when examining in previous of five. Provided the deficiency of expertise for the Calumet Farm homebred and the brief 15-day turnaround concerning that maiden gain on Jan. 22 and the Lewis on Feb. 6, the connections are willing to acquire another shot in the San Felipe.
“He’s a genuinely pleasant colt and confirmed it in his debut,” O’Neill reported. “I believe I just erred by bringing him again so quickly. But he arrived out of it good, and we have specified him great spacing. I’m just really optimistic we’re likely to see an energy like we noticed in his debut on Saturday.”
Even worse Examine Sanchez. The California-bred will make his dust and Derby-trail debut in the San Felipe immediately after a maiden gain towards state-breds on Jan. 15 and runner-up work in an allowance Feb. 4.
“He’s demonstrated he’s possibly a greater turf horse, but you just hardly ever definitely know with recently turned 3-year-olds that can route,” O’Neill claimed of the homebred son of Sq. Eddie for Reddam Racing. “If they take to dust, it opens up tremendous options, definitely.”
Soy Tapatio. The 4-yr-old gelding did not debut right up until November and remained a maiden immediately after four begins whilst exhibiting improvement for Mercado Racing. Then in his seasonal bow Jan. 8, the son of Not This Time rolled by 6 1/4 lengths to graduate. He arrived appropriate back to get a very first-level allowance when closing with a flourish on Feb. 18. Now, it is on to the $600,000 Huge ’Cap.
“All the credit rating to Alejandro Mercado, his proprietor, who had been so patient with him,” O’Neill claimed. “We had a good deal of physical troubles when he was a youthful horse. It would be absolutely nothing superior than to see him operate massive in the Huge ’Cap, just for the tolerance displayed.
“It’s unquestionably some deep waters we’re leaping into, but he’s jogging the style of numbers and is just in genuinely great type ideal now.”
Gradual Down Andy. Just after knocking off hugely regarded Messier in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) in December, he returned in the Feb. 19 Risen Star (G2) at Truthful Grounds and was never ever a aspect when examining in sixth. He was some 11 lengths adrift of free-on-the-lead winner Epicenter immediately after breaking from the much outside the house in put up 10.
“I imagine he was sort of a sufferer of the exterior publish, and the race just didn’t unfold as we had hoped,” O’Neill stated. “So we’re putting a line by way of that race. Thankfully, he arrived out of it in superior form.”
A second shot on the Derby path will adhere to for the California-bred son of Nyquist for operator-breeder Reddam Racing. O’Neill recommended both the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) around the synthetic keep track of at Turfway Park on April 2 or the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland on April 9 would probable be next.
“It will be someplace on the road,” O’Neill reported “I’m optimistic he can convert it back again all over.”
Awake At Midnyte. O’Neill’s major Kentucky Oaks hope, who was beaten by a lot less than a length when next in the Santa Ynez (G2) in her sophomore bow, came back to be 3rd in final month’s Rachel Alexandra (G2) when shipped to Fair Grounds.
In the Rachel Alexandra, Reddam Racing’s daughter of Nyquist stalked the speed and was outrun at the top rated of the extend but then reasserted herself late to get third by a head.
O’Neill pointed out Awake At Midnyte did encounter a bit of issues. The Rachel Alexandra was marred when La Crête experienced a non-deadly injuries on the backstretch.
“She was sitting in a excellent place, and the horse in entrance of her (La Crête) bought hurt. It made her have to alter program and strike the pause button,” O’Neill claimed. “She was in a good, higher cruising velocity, so it sort of took her out of her rhythm a very little little bit. She continue to ran a credible third and arrived out of the race in superior condition.”
He mentioned upcoming up for Awake At Midnyte could be a excursion to Keeneland to contest the $600,000 Ashland Stakes (G1) on April 8.