When he’s not busy leading I’ll Have Another to post, seven-time Grade I race winner Lava Man helps himself to some extra snacks. He’s earned them.
I’ll Have Another’s trainer, Doug O’Neill, claimed Lava Man for owner Steve Kenly for $50,000 at Del Mar in 2004. At the time, O’Neill thought it was a bad deal–the California-bred colt hadn’t finished well in several previous starts–but Kenly, who’d wanted to claim him in an earlier race for $62,500, wouldn’t be talked down twice. Little did they know that the $50K price they wagered on Lava Man would come to be known as “one of the greatest claims in racing history.”
Under O’Neill’s guidance, Lava Man became the first horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic in one year. He won the Hollywood Gold Cup for three consecutive years (2005-2007), and earned nearly $5.2 million in his career, winning seven Grade I races.
But retirement was never his thing–connections say he “hated” turnout–prompting his return to O’Neill’s barn at the track, where he quickly excelled at leading youngsters to workouts or post.
And now that barnmate I’ll Have Another’s making his own run at history, Lava Man finds himself in the spotlight again–as much for accompanying I’ll Have Another to post as for his own curious eating habits.