Doug O'Neill is the first to admit he gets by with a little help from his friends. Thanks in part to his childhood comrade and current Santa Anita Park CEO Mark Verge, the trainer has some steady assistance to fall back on now in Jack Sisterson.
Though it was a soccer scholarship with the University of Louisville that brought Sisterson over from his native England, his love of the racing industry has provided him with both the most invaluable experiences and education he could have dreamed of. After graduating from U of L with a degree in equine administration, Sisterson went to work for the likes of trainers Todd Pletcher and Eddie Kenneally before a chance meeting with Verge in California helped him eventually land a job as one of O'Neill's assistants.
"I was doing work for Mark and he's the one who introduced me to Doug," Sisterson said. "Doug has been so accommodating not only to myself but to the rest of the team. He gave me the opportunity to experience something fantastic like this."
Though he has only been with O'Neill about a year and a half, Sisterson has shouldered some giant responsibility. He was among the first members of Team O'Neill to arrive at Churchill Downs to prepare their shedrow for I'll Have Another's arrival.
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When the son of Flower Alley shipped to Pimlico and now Belmont Park, it was Sisterson who was charged with overseeing his daily care until O'Neill returned from California.
"I've been on the road now for seven weeks but it's been a dream come true," Sisterson said.