CA Trainer Directory
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Trainer of 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another. Onward and upward: Followed up a career year in 2003 with an even better performance in 2004. His horses earned $7,004,827, ninth in the national standings. He was eighth nationally the previous year with earnings of $6.4 million … Took another giant leap forward in ’05 with earnings of $9,476,126, fifth in the nation, and had his best year in ’06 with earnings of $11,247,756, second only to Todd Pletcher … Was the leading trainer in Southern California in 2004, racking up 170 victories and three titles, at Hollywood Park Autumn, Del Mar and Fairplex Park. He won 28 races to claim his first Del Mar title, four in front of rival Jeff Mullins and 11 more than Bob Baffert, whose string of seven straight conditioning crowns at the seaside track ended. In capturing his third straight title at Fairplex, he won a record 18 races … Top horses contributing to his success were Pohave, winner of the Grade I Triple Bend Handicap; Supah Blitz, Skipaslew, Whilly, Areyoutalkintome, Perfect Moon, Lava Man and Hosco. Lava Man, a $50,000 claim in August, 2004 at Del Mar, became a major stakes-winner in 2005 at Hollywood Park by winning The Californian and then the Hollywood Gold Cup before running third to Borrego in the Pacific Classic … Lava Man continued to excel in 2006, winning the Santa Anita Handicap and proving as adept on grass as dirt with a major score in the Grade I Whittingham Memorial Handicap. He then became the first horse to sweep the Southland’s three Grade I races for older handicap horses in the same year by winning a second Hollywood Gold Cup and the Pacific Classic … For the second consecutive year, Lava Man, who ranks as the most successful claim in racing history with earnings of more than $4.5 million since being haltered, was California’s Horse of the Year … O’Neill was a major player on the Triple Crown trail in ’07 with four stakes-winning contenders – Great Hunter, Liquidity, Cobalt Blue and Notional. Great Hunter and Liquidity made it to the Kentucky Derby but, alas, finished 13th and 14th, respectively, behind Street Sense … Developed his first champion in Stevie Wonderboy for owner Merv Griffin. Stevie Wonderboy parlayed a triumph in the 2005 Del Mar Futurity to success in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Eclipse Award acclaim. Unfortunately, Stevie Wonderboy was sidelined early in his 3-year-old year after finishing second to Brother Derek in the San Rafael Stakes in early January … His second Eclipse Award champion was Thor’s Echo who scored an upset in the B.C. Sprint in 2006 and clinched the crown with a victory in the DeFrancis Memorial Dash at Laurel … Made an astute claim in Fleetstreet Dancer, who won the Japan Dirt Cup in 2003 after being haltered for $40,000 the previous year … In 2002 won Hollywood Gold Cup with Sky Jack, eight other stakes races and his first major training title during Hollywood Park’s Autumn meet … Won 2002 Fairplex Park trainer title … Came back to win training title at Hollywood’s 2003 Spring/Summer session … Then was leading trainer at 2003 Oak Tree session … Named California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association trainer of the year in 2002 after his Cal-bred starters won 41 of 201 starts and posted purse earnings of $1.9 million, nearly twice that of his closest competitor, and achieved the same recognition again in 2006 … Thus far, he has won 15 training championships on the competitive Southern California circuit, including titles at Santa Anita, Del Mar, Oak Tree and Hollywood Park autumn in ’06, missing a sweep when he lost the Hollywood Park spring meet by one winner to Jeff Mullins. Topping all trainers on the circuit, he had 163 wins for the year … In 2000, his Classy Cara won the Grade II Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park and the Grade II Honeymoon at Hollywood Park, as well as finishing third in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks … Fantasy victory was first graded win for the trainer … First stakes victory was posted by Tanks For The Music in the 1996 CTBA Marian Stakes at Fairplex Park … Moved to California from Dearborn, Michigan, at age 10 when his father switched from Michigan Bell to Pacific Bell … Began working at racetrack after finishing high school in 1986, learning under trainers Jude Feld, Hector Palma, Richard Mandella and Doug Peterson … Took out trainer’s license in 1994, just knocking around for some time with one or two horses … Got big break when Hideaway Farms’ Gary Howard sent him Seattle Carla, and later when John Zamora let him claim Champagne For Lunch … When success followed, Zamora began to send his homebreds to O’Neill … Other of his stakes winners include Elvstroem, Sharp Lisa, Harvard Avenue, F J’s Place, Rainman’s Request, Just Ruler, Pure as Gold, Cambiocorsa, Itty Bitty Pretty and, more recently, Super Freaky, Mistical Plan, Maryfield and Whatsthescript … Family: wife, Linette; one son; one daughter.
Statistical data provided by Equibase.