Announcing Michael Matz & Doug O'Neill as Panelists at "It's my Derby"™

On Friday, April 19th, some of the biggest names in racing will join us at Fasig-Tipton to share their fondest memories of their Derby winning experiences. This unique event hosted by D. Wayne Lukas will offer the chance to spend one-on-one time with Kentucky Derby winners through an experience auction. Today we announce the two more guest panelists for our “It’s my Derby”™ event, Michael Matz and Doug O'Neill.

Michael Matz is a native of Collegeville, Pennsylvania and now resides in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Michael began his career with horses in an unusual way. Working as a teenager on a farm in Pennsylvania mowing grass and doing odd jobs around the farm, the owner asked one day if he wanted to go riding with him. Never having been on a horse before, Michael gathered the courage to try and the rest is history. From that first ride he later went on to a highly successful equestrian career and eventually representing the United States in the Olympics in show jumping in 1976, 1992 and 1996. He won a silver medal in 1996 and also carried the American flag in the closing ceremonies. He was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 2006.

He began training Thoroughbreds in 1998 and now bases his operation at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. In 2006, Michael brought an undefeated horse to the Kentucky Derby named Barbaro. Winning the Kentucky Derby easily, Barbaro headed to Baltimore for the Preakness where tragedy was waiting. Fracturing a hind leg in the race, Barbaro captured the heart of the nation as he battled to survive till laminitis claimed his life in January of 2007. Michael has returned to the Kentucky Derby with Visionaire (2008) and Union Rags (2012). Union Rags captured Michael's second Triple Crown race in the Belmont last year.

Trainer Doug O’Neill is very accustomed to having his picture taken in the winner’s circle after one of his charges wins a race. He is a mainstay in the southern California racing circuit and since the early 2000s operates one of the largest stables in the country. But the win photo taken Saturday, May 5th on the hallowed ground in front of the infield pagoda at Churchill Downs is the one that has catapulted him into the history books.

Born in Dearborn, Michigan in 1968, O’Neill started in the Thoroughbred horse racing industry as a stable hand in 1986 and then moved up to assistant trainer. He now resides in Santa Monica, California. He took out his trainer’s license in 1994 and rapidly built one of the largest stables on the west coast. He bases his stable at Hollywood Park where he prepared his 2012 Kentucky Derby winner, I’ll Have Another, for his longtime owner, J. Paul Reddam. O’Neill had had two previous starters in the Kentucky Derby, both starting in the 2007 race, Great Hunter (13th) and Liquidity (14th). Both horses were owned by Reddam, as well. Doug was the winning trainer of the Japan Cup Dirt in 2003, which gave him notoriety outside of the United States. He was also named the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Trainer of the Year in 2002. The list of horses under his care include: Great Hunter, Square Eddie, Stevie Wonderboy and Lava Man. The latter won over $5,000,000 while accumulating 17 wins (including the Santa Anita Handicap twice) during his racing career, but made headlines as the horse who traveled with (and escorted to the post) I’ll Have Another during his Triple Crown bid.

Hear their stories live at “It’s my Derby”™. Stay tuned for future announcements as we reveal the rest of the Derby winning panel.

Click here for more information. For ticket reservations, please contact: Carla Grego cgrego@derbymuseum.org or 502-992-5905.