Kentucky Derby

O'Neill assistant Mora keeps stable steady amid Triple Crown hoopla

Leandro Mora, right, leading Kentucky Derby hopeful Square Eddie and exercise rider Tony Romero to the track for a gallop in 2009, has been Doug O'Neill's assistant for more than a decade.
Leandro Mora, right, leading Kentucky Derby hopeful Square Eddie and exercise rider Tony Romero to the track for a gallop in 2009, has been Doug O'Neill's assistant for more than a decade. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Though one particular runner is getting the bulk of attention now, there are about 90 horses in trainer Doug O'Neill's care — all with owners who want them at their best.

Because Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another has demanded the majority of O'Neill's hands-on time during the past several weeks, he is relying more on longtime assistant Leandro Mora to make sure it is business as usual in the rest of the O'Neill operation.

Mora has been O'Neill's right-hand man for more than a decade, having worked previously for the late California-based trainer Brian Mayberry.

"I must have brought him good luck or something because since I've been with Doug he has won more than 20" Grade I races, Mora said, laughing.

Because of Mora, O'Neill doesn't need to fret that something will fall through the cracks at his California base while he is chasing the Triple Crown. Along with overseeing the horses' training — which prevented Mora from making the trip to the Kentucky Derby — he has helped O'Neill develop his overall training program, using some of the techniques from the great California conditioners that came before them.

"Over the years, we piled up a little bit of Charlie Whittingham, a little bit of Brian Mayberry, a little bit of Bobby Frankel and tried to put it all in one training schedule and see what works out," Mora said.

Alicia Wincze Hughes

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