- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
O’Neill lets the good times roll in days before Belmont’s shot at history
Question of the Day
Capturing the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes brought plenty spoils of victory for Doug O’Neill, the trainer of I’ll Have Another. He got to throw out first pitches, attend the Stanley Cup Final and enjoy the spotlight.
“I thought that Doug did a fantastic job preparing the horse, and I don’t know how he managed to have such an active social life at the same time,” owner Paul Reddam said after the Preakness. “But every time I turned on the TV or the radio, there he was. I think he just really enjoyed the whole ride.”
There’s much to enjoy, but being one step from the Triple Crown includes even more scrutiny for O’Neill, whose reputation is far from pristine. A 45-day suspension in California will go into effect July 1 for one horse testing positive for high carbon dioxide levels in 2010. He was disciplined twice before.
I’ll Have Another has not been the subject of negative attention, and O’Neill said he wasn’t apprehensive about facing more questions in advance of Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.
“Not at all. No. You know, we know we play by the rules and this, it’s all about the horse,” he said. “We’re just going to focus on the horse, and I think we’ve got a horse and a team that with a little bit of luck, we can have an unbelievable time.”
O’Neill has been having an unbelievable time along the way, making TV appearances, running in charity races in Baltimore and New York and flashing his charm. He wore a New York Mets hat at Belmont Park the morning after Johan Santana’s no-hitter Saturday and mimicked Allen Iverson when talking recently about all the attention.
“No comment. Next question. I love it,” he joked. “Sorry. Practice? Practice? Thank you.”
But it’s not all joking around, not when the California Horse Racing Board’s suspension came down and Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, told the Atlantic magazine that Reddam should be “embarrassed that the trainer he has chosen does not have a clean record.”
O’Neill expressed disappointment in that sentiment from Chenery, who at 90 still is respected in horse racing. It’s not the first criticism aimed at O’Neill, who has been accused of giving his horses “milkshakes” — mixes of bicarbonate soda, sugar and electrolytes designed to reduce fatigue and enhance performance.
“Anyone who is negative about it, I always invite them to come hang out with us at the barn, and if that doesn’t soften their negativity up, then what else can you do?” O’Neill said before the Preakness. He repeated that in response to Chenery, too.
Most of the time, the 44-year-old has been able to deftly brush off the accusations and spin the attention into positivity about “Team O’Neill.”
“We work hard and take good care of the horses, and when injuries come up, we just regroup, take care of them and just have a really good atmosphere around the barn,” he said. “That helps a ton to keep everything very loose for me and the horses and the staff.”
But the spotlight gets blindingly bright this week as I’ll Have Another will attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. With history making O’Neill’s phone ring, he wants I’ll Have Another to be the focus.
“There’s a good chance I might change my phone number, but no, I’m just so proud of this horse,” O’Neill said. “The horse is way up here. We’re just people taking care of him. We love him. … But it’s all about the horse. When I get attention on me, I’ll just deflect it and focus. I owe it to the horse, I owe it to the Reddams and I owe it to Belmont.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- WHYNO: Tomas Vokoun gets unexpected Stanley Cup shot with Penguins
- Brandon Meriweather, Redskins' secondary ready for bounceback year
- Kirk Cousins embraces role as Redskins' offseason starter as RG3 rehabs from injury
- Capitals notes: Realignment won't prompt roster remake
- Despite Caps' first-round playoff exit, Adam Oates' first season as coach left a positive taste
Latest Blog Entries
- Redskins injury updates (5/23): WR Pierre Garcon, CB Josh Wilson each had labrum surgery
- Capitals 'love' Matt Hendricks, but how much?
- Wojtek Wolski signs in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League
- Tom Poti won't return to Capitals, plans to continue his NHL career
- Is Tom Wilson ready to be a regular for Capitals?
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Colorado judge: Bakery owner discriminated against gay couple
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- U.S. debt jumps a record $328 billion tops $17 trillion for first time
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
The Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses. And how to get from here to there.
Why can’t humans just be free to be humans?
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
White House pets gone wild!