Team O'Neill Back for Another

Kentucky Derby contender Goldencents walks off the van with Jack Sisterson (all photos Claire Novak)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 27, 2013) -- Moving like a tremendous machine, Team O'Neill arrived at Churchill Downs around 1:20 p.m. on Friday afternoon. They were a year older, perhaps a year wiser, and a year removed from the unbelievable triumph they scored with Paul Reddam's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner I'll Have Another in the 2012 edition of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) en route to victory in the Preakness (gr. I).

The Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) victor of the new season is Goldencents, who followed in the hoofprints of his stablemate by capturing that final prep and thereby earning the right to run for the Roses. The son of Into Mischief flew to Kentucky from trainer Doug O'Neill's California base on the same flight bearing Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) contender Beholder for trainer Richard Mandella, touching down in Lexington around 11:45 p.m. and making the journey to Churchill via horse van. Additional connections, including O'Neill himself, jockey Kevin Krigger, and equine Chiropractor Larry "Thumper" Jones, were traveling via private jet and expected to arrive in Louisville later in the day.

Horse van bearing Goldencents pulls up near Barn 45

No need for O'Neill himself to oversee the minute details of equine arrival -- every member of Team O'Neill knows their job and how to do it well. Assistant trainer Jack Sisterson, already shipped up from the recently-concluded spring meet at Keeneland in Lexington, had Barn 45 ready and waiting for the Kentucky Derby hopeful, and as the horse van pulled through the stable gate, the team members prepared to do the unloading job. Before the Thoroughbreds could be unloaded, a vital element had to be removed from the side door of the horse van. Exercise rider Johnny Garcia put his back into it and helped haul seven bags of Resolve feed -- racehorse rocket fuel.

Exercise rider Johnny Garcia can apparently do more than ride horses

After a few O'Neill trainees slated for upcoming races and stakes during the Churchill meet walked off the van, Sisterson led Goldencents down the ramp. Coach Rick Pitino and partners' athletic bay contender paused at the top and let out a loud whinny, as if to say to the world, "I'm here!"

Sisterson tells Goldencents,"Watch your step!"

Goldencents walked onto the grass near the unloading area with an alert and inquisitive expression. Sisterson paused for a handful of video cameras and a few fans who were gathered to take pictures and witness the colt's arrival. Then it was on to Barn 45.

Goldencents checks out his new surroundings

[brightcove videoid="2332907084001"]
Goldencents walks to Barn 45

Once the horses were unloaded, the truck was pulled closer to the barn. While Sisterson walked Goldencents around the shedrow, members of Team O'Neill jumped into action.

Goldencents in motion

It is very important to keep horses well-hydrated before, during, and after travel -- especially when flying on long trips across the country or around the world -- so while Goldencents walked the shedrow, water buckets were quickly filled.

Filling water buckets for the newly-arrived Team O'Neill runners

Goldencents was more concerned with moving around and checking out his new surroundings, but he did pause to take a sip before continuing on his way.

Goldencents takes a drink

Next it was time for housekeeping items -- all the tack and equipment required for a big barn when shipping in to a new place, no matter how short the stay. Exhibit 'A,' Team O'Neill barn signs:

Team O'Neill barn signs will be hung on Barn 45 for the duration of their stay

A very important item for Garcia is his "flak jacket,' the protective exercise-riding vest he wears every time he gets aboard Goldencents or any other Thoroughbred headed to the track. These vests are mandatory for exercise riders and offer protection, cushion in the event of a fall.

Johnny Garcia needs his safety vest in order to ride Goldencents

And heaven forbid we forget the western saddle for a trusty track pony, which Tyler Cerin hoisted in a manly display.

You're welcome, ladies.

Owned by W.C. Racing, Dave Kenney and Rick Pitino's RAP Racing, Goldencents worked six furlongs in 1:16.20 on Thursday, April 26, at Santa Anita Park. If he takes the Derby, he'll make O'Neill the first trainer to win the Run for the Roses in consecutive years since Hall of Famer Bob Baffert did it in 1997 and 1998 with Silver Charm and Real Quiet.

"He came out of the work in great shape and we are all excited about coming back," O'Neill told the Churchill notes team. We'll have more from him... tomorrow.


Leave a Comment:

Birks Goldens

Goldencents is my favorite, but I do have a soft spot for Rosie! It's getting very exciting!

27 Apr 2013 6:53 PM
El Kabong

Outstanding Claire, and Team Bloodhorse for this extraordinary coverage. This behind the scenes material just give us all a greater understanding of the effort that goes into the "fastest 2  minutes in sports."

Goldenscents looks terrific but you were there taking pictures Claire so talk to me. How's he looking up close, in personal, unplugged?

27 Apr 2013 11:30 PM
Melaina Phipps

Great coverage, Claire. Looking forward to more this week!

29 Apr 2013 9:49 AM
Linda in Texas

Thank you Claire, i do love the Beautiful Horses and the expensive vans from which they have earned their right to exit. Good luck to Goldencents, he looks mahvelous and to Douglas and Dennis with special recognition given to Dennis's expert eye in discovering Goldencents, just like he did I'll Have Another!!

29 Apr 2013 11:03 AM

Fabulous article and pictures of Goldencents, Claire!  After seeing Team O'Neill in action in 2011 & 2012 training & nurturing I'll Have Another on his spectacular trek down the Triple Crown trail, "a well-oiled machine" is the perfect description of how well this team works together.  Everyone knows I am a HUGE I'll Have Another fan, always have been.  I've loved him starting from his first race at Hollywood.  

I am a big fan of Goldie's, too.  His maturation process has been wonderful to watch since last summer.  He's talented, smart and improving rapidly.  If he can put it all together and find racing luck May 4th, he will find victory & be in the KY Derby Winner's Circle wearing a garland of roses.

Last year at this time, I stewed in stunned perplexity & frustration as no one in the racing media except Steve Haskin and Dan Illman saw the promise or sang the praises of the great I'll Have Another before his win in the Kentucky Derby.  Few other journalists seemed to be a visionary about him, and IHA went unfairly unhearalded by most.  

I am so happy to see that this year is a much different story for a Doug O'Neill-trained horse. Goldencents is not being unfairly dismissed and ignored. This time around, journalists are looking for & seeing the potential, and Goldie is being appreciated by the racing media. That's great!

Goldencents is following in I'll Have Another's giant, platinum hoofprints.  IHA gave the world some spectacular performances last year.  Goldencents has an excellent chance to create his own magic at Churchill Downs this Saturday.  I think Goldencents can do it, and bring Doug O'Neill & Team O'Neill a training 2-Peat, not to mention great glory for Kevin Krigger & helping Kevin break a 100 year old glass ceiling in the process, and another sports triumph for Rick Pitino and his owners at RAP Racing!

Good luck and good fortune to you at The Big Show, Goldie!

I'm loving all of the great coverage The Bloodhorse is bringing us for both the KY Derby and the KY Oaks.  Outstanding work, everyone!!  Keep up the great work!  We fans really appreciate your hard work and dedication!  

29 Apr 2013 12:29 PM

i was lucky enough to meet co. owner of goldencents Glenn Sorgenstein at my place of employment. He had a baseball cap on with the name goldencents on it. I told him that the horses name on his hat is a good one, I think i told him he was the second best 2yr old in the country. This was back in dec. Well Mr. Sorgenstein couldnt have been more generous. He told me he would bring me a cap and if i wanted i could meet him at santa anita for the sham stakes and go to the paddock and winners circle if he was so lucky to win. I did and it struck up a friendship that i will treasure for the rest of my life. Glenn kept the invite going all along the derby trail, i was there for the san felipe fiasco which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was there for his last work before the santa anita derby and when i witnessed that work i knew goldencents was sitting on something big. The santa anita derby was my best experience at the track. Ive been going to the races for the past 40 yrs and my heart was pumping so fast when goldencents crossed that finish line. I was invited to the winners circle and i will never forget that for the rest of my live. I was at santa anita last thursday with team o neil and watched his final workout. It was breathtaking. Let me tell you there is no speed in the race and goldencents is blessed with natural raw speed, hes going to go wire to wire and win the 2013 derby. I just want to thank Mr. Sorgenstein for letting me share this experience. It has been the ride of a lifetime.

30 Apr 2013 12:45 PM

I am offended that you would reference Secretariat in this article about a confirmed scumbag like O'Neill. A tremendous machine? More like a tremendous pharmacy. Shame on you.

30 Apr 2013 9:37 PM
Sandy McDonald

To juststacey, I hate drugs probably more than you do. Team O'Neill loves their horses. Sometimes medications are necessary, they also don't leave system as predicted. The test results were scant traces. May I point out biggest cheater & horse doper Rick Dutrow Jr. suspended for 10 years, not long enough in my opinion. Please do research before bashing a great team. Dutrow had 64 violations in 6 States. FINALLY something was done. We need to get serious about major consistent offenders who care nothing about the horses, only about money. Team O'Neill is nothing like these despicable worms. Enough said.

06 May 2013 12:18 PM

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