Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another's move to the Belmont Stakes barn will now take place Wednesday, trainer Doug O'Neill said after the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner had another energetic gallop at Belmont Park Tuesday morning.
O'Neill had hoped to have I'll Have Another transferred from Mark Hennig's barn, where he has been since May 20, into the stakes barn well in advance of Wednesday's noon (EDT) deadline for all the contenders in Saturday's 144th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes. O'Neill, who visited with newly arrived jockey Mario Gutierrez this morning, said the switch would take place Wednesday so as not to conflict with his schedule.
"We have a luncheon today (in Manhattan), and I want to be here for that," said O'Neill of the move. "As of earlier, they weren't ready anyways, so now it looks like tomorrow, after he trains, he'll cool out over there. We'll move tomorrow."
The trainer added that I'll Have Another's stable pony, Lava Man, would not be joining him in the stakes barn as had been planned.
"He's not going to go," said O'Neill of Lava Man. "I went over there (Monday) and I just think it will be nerve-wracking for him. So we'll leave him here. He'll still chaperone (I'll Have Another) every morning. I'll Have Another is such a relaxed, cool horse, I worry that Lava Man will get a little anxious and that I'll Have Another will worry what his big brother is all anxious about. We'll leave Lava here, he's settled in nicely here, and we'll just move I'll Have Another."
O'Neill said the late change in schedule was not a concern.
"Everything is good," he said. "The horse is doing great, so we're all doing good, ready to go. I thought he galloped great this morning, looked good, good stride, good energy. Three more days of galloping and if we get lucky, ooo-fah!"
The trainer said that I'll Have Another would stay in the barn and walk the shedrow the morning of the Belmont Stakes, in which he is bidding to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.
"He actually galloped the morning of the Bob Lewis and the morning of the Santa Anita Derby, but he didn't in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness, so we'll maintain," he said.
O'Neill added that he planned on wearing his "lucky tie" for Saturday's race.
"It's a blue tie with some shamrocks on it that I'll be cracking out," he said. "It's two-for-two. Actually, it's three-for-three. Can't change now."
To view O'Neill's Tuesday morning press conference, click here.