ELMONT, N.Y. - The California-based trainer Doug O'Neill was planning to spend Monday afternoon with his family, visiting the Empire State Building and other attractions in New York City. How much he would enjoy playing tourist was dependent on how well his morning went with his two Breeders' Cup Juvenile contenders, Stevie Wonderboy and Jealous Profit.
"I told my wife, Linette, I'm going to be really cranky all day today or I'm going to be real happy," O'Neill said. "I've got every right to be real happy right now."
O'Neill made his comments after Stevie Wonderboy worked a strong half-mile at Belmont in 46.06 seconds and, 30 minutes later, Jealous Profit, went the same distance in 48.56. Stevie Wonderboy's time was the fastest of 132 works at the distance on a busy Monday morning at Belmont Park. Visually, it did not appear that he was going that fast under exercise rider Antonio Romero.
"I got an exercise rider back home that every time a horse works good and we get excited he shakes his head and says 'No money in the morning, no money in the morning,'" O'Neill said. "But it wasn't so much the time - it was just how he did it, how he galloped out. In this business a lot of it is winning the big races, the big money, but it's also a lot of excitement in that strategizing and that planning and then watching a horse work like you would hope. It won't pay your rent, but it definitely gets your adrenaline flowing."
Stevie Wonderboy, a son of Stephen Got Even owned by entertainment mogul Merv Griffin, has had O'Neill's adrenaline flowing since he won the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 7. He rallied from ninth place in the field of 11 to win by five lengths. O'Neill said he briefly considered running in the Champagne, but did not want to run him three weeks before the Juvenile.
Jealous Profit is still a maiden, but O'Neill believes he has done enough to warrant being in this race. He was purchased privately by J. Paul Reddam following a second-place finish in a maiden race at Calder. Reddam won last year's Juvenile with longshot Wilko.
Jealous Profit finished third behind Stevie Wonderboy in the Del Mar Futurity and was third again behind Brother Derek in the Norfolk. Jealous Profit displaced his palate in the Norfolk and underwent a myectomy to correct the problem. O'Neill hopes that procedure and reverting to his one-run style could make Jealous Profit a factor in the Juvenile.
"In the Norfolk we told [rider] Corey [Nakatani] to get after him and have him a little bit closer," O'Neill said. "I think that was a mistake. I think he likes to be back and make one big run, and we're going to go back to that style in the Breeders' Cup."
Superfly, third in the Champagne, turned in a visually impressive move Monday, working five furlongs in 59.98 in company. Superfly, trained by Nick Zito, began four lengths behind his workmate and finished about eight in front.
Dr. Pleasure, the Cowdin runner-up, worked five furlongs in a solid 1:00.45 by himself. He worked just prior to the renovation break when the track was at its deepest.