The crowd began to swell outside Barn 3, the home of I’ll Have Another, winner of Kentucky Derby 138, Sunday morning at Churchill Downs.
Friends of winning owner J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill. Media folks prepared to speak with Reddam and O’Neill after they had finished their appearance on NBC’s “Today Weekend” show. Visitors from other stables eager to deliver congratulations. Fans scrambling for snapshots of the game’s next Derby champion.
At 9:01 a.m. assistant trainer Sabas Ribera swung open the full-screen gate to Stall 17 — and there was I’ll Have Another, buried in a pile of wood shavings, a handful sprinkled confetti-style on his head.
The Kentucky Derby winner was sleeping it off.
He had no idea — and little interest — in the big fuss.
“The most important things for him are eating and relaxing,” said Sabas Ribera, as assistant in O’Neill’s barn who has worked with I’ll Have Another daily since the colt arrived more than a year ago.
“Every day, that’s him. To work with him is nice. Very nice colt to be around. Very nice.”
I’ll Have Another’s relaxation skills are about to be tested. The colt is scheduled to depart Churchill Downs for Baltimore today, bound for the Preakness Stakes.