Trainer Doug O'Neill (red hat) congratulates jockey Mario Gutierrez after his 2012 Preakness Stakes victory aboard I'll Have Another for owner Paul Reddam (dark jacket, applauding). (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)
Far from it.
After I’ll Have Another took them to victories in the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, the colt’s Triple Crown aspirations came to a crushing conclusion when a career-ending injury was detected a day before he was scheduled to run in the Belmont Stakes.
Undaunted by the heartbreak of the near-miss at Triple Crown immortality, the duo seemed on track for a return trip to the Kentucky Derby when their 2-year-old colt He’s Had Enough finished second to eventual division champ Shanghai Bobby in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
REDDAM, O'NEILL, GUTIERREZ SLIDESHOW
Photos Courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Things didn’t work out for He’s Had Enough. He finished no better than third in his next three races and was sidelined after a disastrous 11th place finish in the United Arab Emirates Derby. Unraced since late March, he will be running on one of the two Breeders’ Cup days at Santa Anita, but it will be in a mere $70,000 allowance race which serves as the opening race on Friday’s card.
He’s Had Enough’s connections, though, will be quite involved in the Breeders’ Cup as Reddam will send out five runners — four of them part of the nine horses O’Neill will saddle in the 14 Breeders’ Cup races.
Bond Holder shapes up as the better of the two as he won the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes, Santa Anita’s steppingstone prep for the Juvenile, in his last start. He’s listed at 8-to-1 on the morning line for Saturday’s race that seems destined to crown the year’s champion 2-year-old.
In another link to the past, Bond Holder will be ridden by Mario Gutierrez, the regular rider for both I’ll Have Another and He’s Had Enough.
BOND HOLDER WINNING FRONTRUNNER
Photo by Benoit & Associates
Rum Point’s best finish in a stakes was a fourth last time out in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, but Saturday’s race will mark his first start on dirt and his recent workouts at Santa Anita have been promising.
Together, the two are sending out a message that Reddam’s purple and white colors might very well be on display once again as the Road to the Kentucky Derby moves forward.
“Paul’s a horse player. He knows the game,” O’Neill said. “He does his research before we go to sales and then my brother, Dennis, picks out the ones that look best. It’s a great team effort that’s been working out well for us.”
O’Neill said he likes the way both of Reddam’s horses are approaching the Juvenile and is hopeful that homecourt advantage will play a key role in a race in which two of the top contenders, probable favorite Havana and Hopeful Stakes winner Strong Mandate, have shipped to California from New York.
“It’s an advantage with a young horse to be able to walk him over from his stall to the racetrack instead of ship him to a different environment,” O’Neill said. “And both horses are doing great. [Bond Holder] had been crying out for more distance and has been training like an absolute beast. He's a horse with so much natural stamina, and having a Grade 1 win around two turns here will be to his benefit. We added blinkers [on Rum Point] in Kentucky, and he has come back and trained well.”
And so Reddam and O’Neill are back in the BC Juvenile, with their eyes on the big prizes: the championship that awaits at the end of this year and the glory that will found on the first Saturday in May.
By Saturday night we’ll know if the similarities are just beginning or ending there.