LAWN JOCKEYS LINE DERBY WINNER’S WALK

Kentucky Derby winner I’LL HAVE ANOTHER gallops at Pimlico Saturday morning. 
Trainer Doug O’Neill’s stable is relishing downtime at Pimlico yet he acknowledges it won’t stay that way for long.   
“It almost feels like we’re at a layup facility or a training center or something.  It’s such a quiet, nice environment,” said O’Neill welcoming a mellow week after a chaotic Derby week.  
After his Derby winner’s gallop on Saturday morning, O’Neill talked to only a trio of reporters outside Barn D, located adjacent to the Pimlico Stakes barn where most of his Preakness contenders will lodge. Stabling the only Preakness starter currently on the grounds, O’Neill enjoys the tranquility.  
“Their is a lot of responsibility of the groom, the hotwalker and our assistants to keep attention to detail and making sure we screw up.  At the same time, we like a loose atmosphere.  We do our job to the best ability but at the same time have a good time.”
O’Neill will likely saddle his Kentucky Derby winner in the Pimlico paddock, prior to next Saturday’s Preakness opting out of the traditional saddling on the turf course.  The trainer toured the paddock after his gallop.
“I think that just made our decision right there.  The gameplan now will be to saddle downstairs and then go out on the turf course where they do the riders up.  We saddle in stalls 7 days a week and I just don’t want to saddle in the wide open if we don’t have to.”

Prior to his morning gallops, the Derby winner takes a few loops around the lawn jockey in the colors of last year’s winner Shackleford.

On his way to the track led by Lava Man, I’ll Have Another stopped in a paddock to circle the lawn jockey of last year’s winner Shackleford.  A week before the middle gem of the Triple Crown, he likes where he sits.

 “He came out of the Derby in incredible shape,” said O’Neill after I’ll Have Another’s walk and gallop around the Pimlico grounds.  “Today after we were schooling and he was bucking and playing going back home.  He looks and feels as good as he ever has.”

While enjoying his post gallop suds, I’LL HAVE ANOTHER recognized a familiar face.

O’Neill considers the Preakness a little easier with Dullahan opting out for the Belmont Stakes, but recognizes that he still has Bodemeister, a Virginia-bred, to contend.

“I wouldn’t mind if Bodemeister decided to wait for the Belmont.  And then the unknown horses that didn’t run in the Derby have a little extra rest and jump in and run big.  We very satisfied and look for him to repeat the Preakness,” comments O’Neill looking to have the Preakness lawn jockey painted in the purple and white colors of owner Reddam Racing.

During his bath he glares at the traveling O’Neill Stable jock who is on a Triple Crown quest of his own.

Arriving back at the stables, I’ll Have Another saw another familiar face, the traveling lawn jockey of O’Neill’s stable.

“He’s our mascot.  He’s seen a lot of things.  He has a lot of stories to tell,” tells O’Neill about his lawn jockey who was mustached and sideburned during his stay at Churchill Downs.  “He’s got a little stain on his shirt.”

If there is any tension at all in O’Neill, he likely worked it off later Saturday morning when he was scheduled to run in the Preakness 5K wearing a groom’s number vest.