Belmont Stakes 2012: Doug O'Neill Wise to Pull out All Stops for Triple Crown
Doug O’Neill is losing himself in the music.
Will I'll Have Another complete the Triple Crown?
Thoroughbred trainers don’t get too many opportunities to enter the Belmont Stakes with a chance at the Triple Crown. In fact, they’re lucky if they ever get such a shot. And because of that, O’Neill definitely isn’t taking his run with I’ll Have Another this year for granted.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the trainer recruited retired Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey to share his unrivaled wisdom with the scorching, but inexperienced Mario Gutierrez. The report read: “The plan is for Gutierrez and Bailey to go around the massive 1 1/2-mile oval on horseback to help the 25-year-old rider understand the nuances of Belmont Park.”
While Gutierrez isn’t a veteran at the Belmont, he wasn’t at the Kentucky Derby or Preakness either. His youth didn’t prevent him from finishing first in those races—if anything it helped him, he was fearless. Gutierrez pushed the right buttons at the right times to pull off a pair of dramatic come-from-behind victories—each time knocking off the favored Bodemeister.
Technically, bombarding Gutierrez with too much advice rides the risk of throwing him off. He displayed the composure of a jockey a decade older in his two triumphs. But O’Neill is only doing what’s necessary to leave New York with no regrets.
If you had one race, or one Triple Crown leg left—this is everything you ever wanted, one event—would you go all out, or let Paynter win?
O’Neill is wisely pulling out all the stops. He knows that if I’ll Have Another were to lose as a result of a mistake that he could’ve prevented, the decision not to act would haunt him the rest of his career.
If I’ll Have Another fails to complete the Triple Crown, expect O’Neill to walk away with his head held high because he’s doing as much as possible to pull off the victory.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.
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