Bond Holder Plan: It Won't Be Up in the Air
By Dick Downey
On Wednesday at Bloodhorse.com, Ron Mitchell's podcast with trainer Doug O'Neill reveals that regardless of what happens next, Bond Holder will not be put back on board an airplane any time soon.
As is widely known, Bond Holder, winner of the FrontRunner Stakes as a maiden last fall, is now in a holding pattern at Tampa Bay Downs after an aborted effort to run him in the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds. He's yet to start in a race this year.
"He had an eventful trip...to Louisiana.... He didn't have horse-loving handlers...and he really got banged around," O'Neill said, comparing Bond Holder's treatment on the flight from California to New Orleans to that an inanimate object would receive.
So Bond Holder was withdrawn from the Risen Star, and his connections made plans to ship him back to California. But Bond Holder was too anxious to make the trip.
"The irony is, he's so mentally tough, nothing bothers this horse, but we're worried about him and getting on planes," O'Neill told Mitchell. "Once we got him about 80 to 90 percent right in Louisiana, we put him on a Tex Sutton flight to come back to California, and they had to go to Florida before going on California. By the time he got to Florida -- had no problems with turbulence, no problems with the takeoff, everything went smooth -- so it was all just Bond Holder kind of freaking out, we think from the experience of the previous trip, so we took him off the plane. We weren't going to take the chance of taking him from Florida all the way to California with that mindset."
Once that ordeal ended, another one started: a foot abscess.
"We...removed the hind left shoe, (and) he had an abscess in the toe area under the shoe," O'Neill said.
A period of short rest didn't work, but O'Neill hopes the issue will resolve soon.
"We have put the shoe back on and tried to go light training with him, and we weren't happy with that, so we pulled the shoe back off," O'Neill continued. "He seems 100 percent right now at Tampa, and the goal is to put the shoe on maybe Friday or Saturday, and then take him back to the track there and then hopefully work him maybe sometime mid to end of the week at Tampa and kind of go one day at a time, and hopefully he comes out of it good, and we can figure out what the next step is from there."
When asked about Bond Holder's status for the Kentucky Derby, O'Neill was optimistic but ackowledged the difficulties he facees.
"I think (his status) for the Derby is still strong," the trainer said. "I talk to Mr. Reddam daily. That's definitely one of our goals for him. We're going to do right by Bond Holder. He would obviously need at least one prep right now.... We won't go there just to take him there. Right now, we're just trying to get him on the track in normal training; that's our main goal at this point. It's hard to look too far into the calendar when you're dealing with a foot issue."
O'Neill said Bond Holder would be shipped via van next time. As for other Kentucky Derby prospects, O'Neill said there are none in his barn.
To listen to the entire podcast, please click here.