Monday, December 17, 2012

O'Neill Interview With "60 Minutes Sports" (Pre-Air Notes)

Bacon wrote last week that 60 Minutes Sports was planning a story on horse racing, and that Saturday, the interviewers would be meeting Doug O'Neill at Hollywood Park. Bacon's piece focused on the fact that the narrative would be pro-racing. As most know, Doug  has been interviewed in the past and had his medication violations and TCO2 positives brought up, both here and in the Chinese press, so that was a welcome proclamation.

I, as your cub reporter, can confirm that Paulick is correct. I travelled to Hollywood Park and clandestine-like sat like a snake in the weeds catching most of the interview. I found the reporters questions to be softball. What was striking to me, however, is that it seems some of the negative press has gotten to the Kentucky Derby winning trainer. He looked to not be his usual cheery self. At times - and this is simply my cub reporter opinion - he seemed very defensive.

Anyway, you can judge for yourself. I have transcribed my cub reporter notes and I present them below.

60 Minutes: Hi Doug, how are you? Would you like some juice or water?

Doug: Juice? What's juice? I know nothing of this juice you speak of.

60: Orange juice, apple juice, to drink.

Doug: I swear on my kids' eyes I don't like juice. No juice.

60: OK, fine, how about some pastries, we have cookies, all kinds of baking.

Doug: Baking? I know what you're getting at.

60: I'm just offering you some cookies, Doug.

Doug: Ya, that's how it starts. I ran into Joe Drape on the backstretch this spring and he said, "Hi Doug, how are things", then all hell broke loose. This is the way you reporters roll.

60: No one is trying to strong-arm you Doug.

Doug: Arm, like you're "hammering" me? Arm and Hammer, eh? Ha ha, the joke's on Doug. Funny stuff. You guys are about as tough to see through as a window covered in mud. Or I mean one that's easy to see through. That's it. You're as easy to see through as a window that's very clean.

60: OK, let's move on. Bob Baffert is, as usual, having quite the year, and continues to be a force in Southern California. How do you compete with his powerful stable?

Doug: Are you saying he'd be even more dominant if he still had Richard's Kid in his barn? And that if he had Richard's Kid in his barn he would make more money for himself and Jill, and they could donate more to local orphanages? Are you saying I don't care about orphans? That I don't like impoverished children?

60: No, I was just asking if he is a formidable opponent to race against. Alright, let's switch topics. Richard Dutrow calls people "Babe". Do you have nicknames for anyone?

Doug: Who's Richard Dutrow? I swear on a bale of hay covered in bibles I don't know who that is. I don't want to talk about people I have never heard of.  If he has violations I especially don't want to talk about him. And I don't like nicknames. No one calls me anything but Doug. Just Doug.

60: C'mon Doug, you know, Richard Dutrow, the man who trained Big Brown?

Doug: Oh, I see now, you rascal. Big Brown pulled up in the Belmont going for the Triple Crown and lost. You want to talk about I'll Have Another being scratched in that same race and try to pin something on me. Joe Drape tried this and I failed to see through his mental wizardry, but fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on you..... maybe I have that backwards.

60: What are your feelings on race day lasix? Pro or con?

Doug: I'll do whatever Mike Pegram wants. If he's pro lasix I will be for it, if he's against it, I will be against it. If he tells me to eat at McDonald's I will. By the way, I swear on my german shepherd's box of milk bones I've never eaten at Wendy's.

60: Ok, so did you enjoy the notoriety regarding the Triple Crown series. I heard Santa Anita gave away a bobblehead of you? That must have been fun.

Doug: It was. My good friend Mark Verge did that - he was running Santa Anita. I was appreciative. It's something I will never forget. Mark and I go way back.

60: Oh, Mark Verge. Wasn't he fired recently, and didn't he have something to do with Richards Kid and the bad-blood between the O'Neill and Baffert camps?

Doug: Who's Mark Verge? I never heard of him.

60: Thanks for your time Doug.

Doug: You're welcome.

That's it from your cub reporter here at Hollywood Park. Next week we'll have a preview of an interview with Jeff Mullins where he shares his love of customer service.

Pocket, out.

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