Even though he was the third betting choice, the son of Into Mischief finished 17th in the rain and mud at Churchill Downs.
Team O'Neill seemed puzzled at first with the horse's poor finish on racing's biggest stage but quickly came to terms with it.
"I think it's as simple as he just didn't handle the going," O'Neill says. "... Initially, I was thinking a fast, wet track would make a mile and a quarter easier. Usually it's really hard and wet on top. This turned out to be what Kevin termed almost 'peanut-butter-ish.' It was more demanding than a standard wet track."
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But now Goldencents has a chance to redeem himself on another big stage. And with Krigger aboard, a win would mark the first time since 1898 that an African-American rider wins the Preakness.
Of course, nothing is sacred with Team O'Neill. Even that's fodder for one-liners.
"Kevin's black?" O'Neill says with mock incredulity when asked about the prospect of Krigger making history with a win Saturday.
Then, growing serious: "No, I think it's something we joke about. Doesn't matter the gender, the color, the religion, whatever. Kevin's a brilliant rider and we've seen it on Goldencents every time he's ridden him. It would be really cool and he'd be a great representative if [a win] were to come true."
Even then, the one-liners will never stop.
Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."