Road to the Triple Crown Teleconference transcript from March 26, 2013
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Eric Wing: A very big weekend coming up as we get into the 100-point Derby races and the two primary, or most prominent ones will be televised live from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. on the NBC Sports network, and we have three excellent guests to preview those races. A little later on in the call, we’ll check in with Jack Wolf – he, of course, one of the principals of Starlight Racing – who will be sending out Shanghai Bobby in the Besilu Stables Florida Derby. Also later on, one of the other big giants of the industry, Cot Campbell, President of Dogwood Stable. He’s got Palace Malice set to wear his colors in the million-dollar Louisiana Derby – that race, as I mentioned, also on the NBC Sports network telecast.
But first up, we’re very proud and pleased to welcome in Hall of Fame trainer, Shug McGaughey. He’ll be saddling the Fountain of Youth winner, Orb, on Saturday in the Florida Derby. Shug, it’s Eric Wing. How are you today?
Shug McGaughey: I’m good, Eric, thanks.
Eric Wing: Shug, you’re in the enviable position of having those 50 Derby points in your back pocket, more than likely enough to get into the Derby. What are you hoping to see Saturday in order to feel good about taking that next step?
Shug McGaughey: I’m hoping to see a good race out of him. It doesn’t have to be a winning race or running to win, but if he shows us that he’s going forward and makes a good run, we’ll see what happens from there
Eric Wing: Shug, Orb has always been, I would guess, maybe a little more challenging a horse to train than most. He was a bad gate horse early in his career, or so it appeared. Are you satisfied with where he is mentally now, or is there still even further room for improvement on that front?
Shug McGaughey: No, I’m in good shape now. I think the gate thing was probably maybe a little bit my fault, especially the second time and, , we’ve got it straightened out. He’s schooled at the gate twice since the Fountain of Youth. He was perfect Fountain of Youth day from the one, and he’s been perfect since—the two times when we’ve schooled him here at Payson Park lately, and I’m not worried. I think he’s doing fine mentally, and I think he’s continuing to move forward in that way.
Danny Brewer: Listen, your list of major wins is a mile long, but there’s one thing that’s not there and that’s a Kentucky Derby win. Why is Orb the horse that’s going to get you your first Kentucky Derby win?
Shug McGaughey: Well, you’re nice to say that, and I think that one of the things that I like about what we’re doing right now is to see the improvement that this horse has made over the last two or three months. You know, the horse that won the Fountain of Youth, I think, is not the same horse that I’m seeing today. The other thing, his pedigree and his running style, he’s the horse that’s going to get the distance. He’ll relax no matter what’s going on in the race, whether it’s a slow pace, fast pace, wherever the rider wants him to be, which his last three times really we’ve just let him run his own race. Just let him run his race, don’t force him to do something he doesn’t want to do.
Danny Brewer: You think he’s peaking at the right time, obviously, from what you’re saying?
Shug McGaughey: I hope he hasn’t peaked yet, but I think he’s going in the right direction. You know, I was very pleased with his work yesterday. I was at Payson Park this morning. I was pleased with what I saw out there today, including coming out of his race, so I do think that, physically, he’s a lot farther along now than he really was when we ran him in the Fountain of Youth.
Danny Brewer: So you said something about the pace. You think he’s got the (inaudible) that the pace doesn’t necessarily have to be really hot for him to be where he needs to be at the end of the race?
Shug McGaughey: Well, I don’t think so. Even though the pace was hot here in the Fountain of Youth, he was able to catch those horses on a very speed-favored racetrack, which has been a surprise to me in both of his races down here. Of course when you’ve got a horse with that running style, you always like to have a fast pace; but the other thing, if they do go slow, he’s not going to be quite as far back as he was the other day, and I still think he can make that finish.
Tom Pedulla: Yes, Shug, could you put into words what a Derby victory would mean for you? Well I mean, a Kentucky Derby victory, obviously.
Shug McGaughey: Well, you know, it’d be hard for me to put into words but it would mean an awful lot. I mean, I can’t say that probably every morning I get up and do this and that I’m not dreaming of winning the Kentucky Derby. Now, obviously, I’ve never won it so I don’t know what the feeling’s like, but I’m looking forward to the day that I do know what it’s like, and hopefully, it’ll be sooner more than later. I was hoping that maybe it would happen a lot earlier than it obviously has and—so I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore. But it’s a big race in my mind and it’s a race that I very much want to be competitive in and I want to have a chance to win.
Tom Pedulla: If I may follow up, Shug, why do you think that you have not been able to produce a Derby winner to this point when you have so many other accomplishments?
Shug McGaughey: Well, one of the reasons is I think that we kind of bring our horses along a little bit slower. You know, a lot of guys, that’s their goal is to get to the Derby and we don’t really kind of do it that way, even though I want to get there. But I want the horse to take me and I think that we have had just limited opportunity. I think I’ve only run six horses at it, and maybe I made a mistake a time or two, but I really don’t think so. I could have, but it’s just not something to where we (inaudible) that we’ve got to get to the Derby. The Phippses aren’t kind of built that way and neither is Stuart Janney, and I think we’re excited about the opportunity of this weekend, hoping that Orb will run well enough to take us there. But like I say, if he doesn’t, we’re not running him to be an also-ran.
Jim Freer: One of the other callers was asking about the pace in the race. Merit Man is in the race. Who do you think, other than Merit Man, is going to near the front, and how is that going to impact the plans that you might have for Orb?
Shug McGaughey: Well, of course, Shanghai Bobby was in front in the Fountain of Youth and I don’t know whether they’re trying slow him down a little bit to where he’ll finish. But I think with eight or nine horses in the race, we’ll get a legitimate pace. I mean, they can’t turn Merit Man loose all by himself, so I think Shanghai Bobby will probably be up close. Some of those others that I might not be familiar with, they might have a little bit of speed to sort of press things along a little bit, so—you know, but that’s something that’s kind of out of my hands and I just hope that the pace is slow and that we’re in a position when we turn for home to where we got a chance to finish and be right there.
Mike Kane: Could you compare Coronado’s Quest and Orb in temperament and also in ability?
Shug McGaughey: Well, two different type horses. This horse, he’s got a lot more of a laid back temperament than Coronado’s Quest. In his career, he was a very hot horse and a little bit tough to handle, not only in the morning but in the afternoons too, and Orb’s not that way. He’s very pushbutton, so he’s got plenty of energy but he’s not one that you have to kind of watch what he does at all times. Coronado’s Quest was fast, he did win the Travers. Mike Smith was probably a big part of that; he could really ride him. Probably didn’t want to run a mile and a quarter on his best race, but he did that day; and I think that Orb probably on his best race, probably wants to run a mile and a quarter, maybe even farther.
Mike Kane: Okay, and could you just follow up a little bit more too, on the topic of the last few questions about getting the number of horses into the Derby through your career. I think—have you had one since Easy Goer, and excuse me if I’m wrong about that, back in the ‘80s, you had lots of Derby-contending prospect-type horses. It’s been a while since you’ve had one of those. That’s your style, but could you just reflect on that just a little bit more for us?
Shug McGaughey: Well, you’re not wrong, I think, in 2000, we just hadn’t gone about it (ph). We had a couple, one year, in ’96, named Accelerator. He got hurt breezing before the Derby. I mean, he would have—he’d placed second in the Wood. He was the kind of horse that would have run that far. He would have had a chance. You know, some other horses that I just got started and maybe something got in the way and I didn’t go on with them, and a horse like Coronado’s Quest, (inaudible) won the Wood Memorial. With his temperament and stuff, I just didn’t think that really taking him to the Derby would be fair to him and maybe not fair to some of the other participants because you never really did know what he was going to do. So we passed and we entered in the Preakness. He was the borderline favorite but he bruised a foot behind, so we had to stop—, we had to pass on that. So I think that it’s just something that we haven’t really pressed on to get there. A lot of these horses are bred to run all the distance around (ph) but they’re not really precocious as two-year-olds, and so we haven’t pressed them all that much as two-year-olds. Some of them just didn’t pan out.
Randy Moss: You mentioned after the Fountain of Youth that it surprised you how quickly this horse has developed and come to hand. What was your opinion of Orb last fall? And secondly, what have you seen in the morning with your trained eye that’s led you to the conclusion that he’s physically a lot further along now than he was a month ago?
Shug McGaughey: Well to answer your first question, we always like breezing in the morning. Getting him ready to run his first time, he was always finishing up good. Then we ran him the first time and he got tangled up in the gate, but he came flying at the end; and the second time, it was sort of the same thing. Really after he broke his maiden, Randy, when I brought him down here, I didn’t know how (inaudible) he’d deal with this racetrack just because of his running style and how speed-favoring this racetrack could be. He got a couple solid races, maybe this is the kind of horse I can take back and run in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. So this has all been sort of a bit of a surprise, from the time he got to Payson Park around Christmastime all until yesterday, he’s trained very, very well up there, and the first time I ran him going a mile and an eighth, I thought he would run good but I just didn’t know whether his running style would fit Gulfstream Park.
When I look at him physically over the winter, just to see how he has physically matured, being a Malibu Moon out of an Unbridled mare, he’s more of a lanky, longer type of a horse than maybe some of the more precociously bred kind of horses. Every time I look at him, I’m surprised at the little bit of improvement he makes every time I am around him. And then just training-wise, he’s matured to the point where he’s pretty much pushbutton. We can do what we want to with him, not only with his gallops, even though he’s energetic in his gallops but in his works, it’s—every time we work him, he sort of does exactly what I want him to do, including yesterday. His work time, 101 at Payson Park, that’s pretty good work, and once he got it all together and it did all come together, he enjoys what he’s doing and so that’s why we’re where we are.
Tom Pedulla: Yes, Shug, if I may, I wanted to ask you about Shanghai Bobby and what did you make of his last race, and do you expect a different kind of effort from him this time?
Shug McGaughey: Well, I would say so. I would think he would run better. I think that’s a pretty nice horse that beat him the other day, and I’m sure that (inaudible) to all this—everything into the barrel just to win the (inaudible) but he had bigger ambitions than that race and I would think that if maybe a better horse would show up, there’s probably a little bit of a question mark – does he really want to run that far? But we’ll find out. We’ll find out Saturday. But he got beat by a darn nice horse in Eddie Plesa’s horse.
Melissa Hoppert: I was hoping that you could expand a little on Itsmyluckyday, which is Eddie Plesa’s horse that you just mentioned. Do you view him as your biggest competition, or Shanghai Bobby?
Shug McGaughey: Well, I think both of them are legitimate horses. I think that probably Itsmyluckyday, he’s won twice down here. He won the Gulfstream Park Derby and then he came back and won Holy Bull. He’s a kind of a (inaudible) horse who likes this racetrack, and so running distance aground, it looks like to me where that could be a little bit of a question mark for Shanghai Bobby and that’s just something that I don’t know. I just watched his last race. He acted like, he slowed down a little bit, but as I said, the winner was a nice horse and whoever beats him on Saturday has beaten a nice horse, so that’s the kind of respect I’ve got really for both of them.
Eric Wing: Okay, Shug, one more from me before we say good-bye. John Velazquez gave Orb just a terrific ride in the Fountain of Youth, I thought. Do you and the owners hold out hope that if Orb does okay on Saturday, he’ll stick with your horse thereafter, or is that something you and the owners will just concern yourselves with later?
Shug McGaughey: Well, we’re going to concern ourselves with it later, but after we see what he does, and what Johnny does, he rides the horse in the Arkansas Derby too, but obviously anybody would love to have Johnny Velazquez at any time. He’s one of the premier riders in the country and we’ve had tremendous success together, —but I knew going in that this was a problem—or could be a problem, but I’ll face that when the time comes and we’ll figure it out. If Orb is good enough to run the Derby, we’ll find somebody to ride him.
Eric Wing: That’s for certain, Shug, and really appreciate you taking the time to talk about Orb—talk to us about Orb today, and we wish you and all the connections the very best of luck Saturday.
Shug McGaughey: Okay, Eric, well thank you all.
Eric Wing: Thank you. That’s Hall of Famer, Shug McGaughey. He’ll be saddling Orb for Stuart Janney in the Phipps Stable. Just a terrific pedigree on Orb’s part, names like Coronado’s Quest we heard discussed, Ruffian in there and Private Terms, and starting to really show himself and rise to the top of the three-year-old ranks, and he’ll certainly be one of the exciting ones to watch on Saturday in the Besilu Stables Florida Derby, as will Shanghai Bobby.
And we’re very pleased to welcome in now one of the principals of Starlight Racing, Jack Wolf. Jack, it’s Eric Wing in New York. Thanks for being on with us today.
Jack Wolf: Thanks for having me, Eric.
Eric Wing: Jack, you and Todd have stuck to that two-race plan that you set for Shanghai Bobby long ago. With 24 Derby points, you really don’t need too many more but you probably need a little more. Are you confident heading into Saturday?
Jack Wolf: Well, I think, give Todd credit. I mean, he’s great at setting the programs and the schedules for these horses, and that’s what he’s done with Shanghai Bobby with sort of a disregard for points and more centered on what he thinks is his best race pattern for the horse. So we probably do need some more points. Are we on the right schedule? I think so, and I think the horse is doing very well and it should be good to go this Saturday.
Eric Wing: Jack, Shanghai Bobby was on the lead in the Holy Bull, but he certainly proved before that that he’s not a need-to-lead horse. Still, are you concerned at all about the possibility of a hot pace Saturday?
Jack Wolf: Yes, I think a lot of that’ll be dictated by the post position draw, and I think we sort of got stuck down on the inside and were forced to have a pretty hot pace in our last race. So it looks like Merit Man’s going to be in there and there’ll be some other speed, so hopefully our horse can set off the pace and relax and go about it that way.
Randy Moss: Everybody seems to have kind of decided en masse that there are distance questions about Shanghai Bobby. What’s your opinion on that?
Jack Wolf: Can I answer that after Saturday? You know, you look at his pedigree. On the bottom side, it would suggest that he would have distance limitations. Having said that, as the type of heart and determination this horse is showing, the way he’s galloped out, and I mean especially the last race, he galloped out very well, I’m willing to give this a shot as far as having the criticism of distance restrictions, and especially if he can go the mile and an eighth. I don’t think any of them want to go a mile and a quarter, but it is what it is, and after this race, if it looks like the distance is a factor, then there’s a lot of other races that—you know, at seven eighth and eight furlongs, so we’ll just have to wait and see until after this.
Randy Moss: And is the human Shanghai Bobby going to be at Gulfstream on Saturday?
Jack Wolf: Now, he does have some distance limitations, for sure, —but in any case, he’s supposed to be showing up Saturday morning.
Danny Brewer: Mr. Wolf, could you talk for a second about Rosie Napravnik and her role in the development of Shanghai Bobby?
Jack Wolf: I think she’s been very important, and I ran into Rick Porter yesterday at (inaudible) and we were talking about how good a ride she gave his filly out there in California. My comment to him was, first of all, she’s a very good rider that just happens to be a woman; but she has been on our horse every race. I think with somebody different than her on the horse, in the Breeder’s Cup we may have had a different result. So to answer your question very specifically, I think she’s been very important and, hopefully, she’ll continue to choose to ride this horse going forward.
Danny Brewer: How do you think Shanghai Bobby has matured since he’s went from two to three?
Jack Wolf: You know, he’s matured and as far as his first race as a three-year-old; from a numbers standpoint, it was his best race. So as far as I can see and as far as Todd has told me as how he handles himself in the barn and his works, that he’s made the step in good order. So there again, a lot’s going to be told by this next race, but I’m happy where he is right now.
Danny Brewer: Is there a chance that Shanghai Bobby—and, of course, I know depending on what happens Saturday, is there a chance that he could not run in the Kentucky Derby, but if he has enough points, is he going to be there?
Jack Wolf: Well, if he has enough points and he shows that the distance is not that big a factor in Saturday’s race, I would see no reason why we would not run the horse in the Derby.
Tom Pedulla: Mr. Wolf, what did you make of the horse’s defeat in his three-year-old debut? I mean, was it surprising to you, disappointing, and how confident are you that he can rebound from it?
Jack Wolf: Well, I think he got beat fair and square. I mean, the other horse brought it to him and beat us fair and square. Was I disappointed? Sure. Did I think we’d win the race? Of course I did. But I think, going forward, Itsmyluckyday, I would think, would be the favorite in this race. I’ve got a great deal of respect for him, and Orb had a great race, and there’s a number of other good horses. So going forward, you got to really respect the field that they’re putting together there.
David Grening: Jack, do you think that, with the loss and with people having some distance limitations, that this horse has sort of been a bit forgotten and pushed to the back burner, especially with the emergence of (inaudible) in his own barn?
Jack Wolf: Yes, I think so, and Todd may rank some of his horses other than Shanghai Bobby above Shanghai Bobby. And the odds in the Derby pool would indicate—I think he closed at, like, 18 to 1. So I think a lot of people have put him on the back burner and maybe rightfully so, and if they’re right, hopefully they can be proved wrong in Saturday’s race. But yes, he certainly has taken a back seat.
David Grening: Are you—so from that standpoint, do you go in a little bit more relaxed in this race, knowing that maybe expectations aren’t as high for him, or are your expectations still as high as they were before the Holy Bull?
Jack Wolf: You know, my expectations are as high as they’ve ever been. You’d have to ask Todd what his expectations are, but I look at it as a benefit that hopefully the horse’s odds will be higher.
Jeff Duncan: Yes, Jack, I wanted to follow up on your comment earlier about Rosie Napravnik’s ride in the juvenile, the Breeder’s Cup juvenile. Why did you say that about—that you think if you had another rider, it might have been a different result? What in particular did she do?
Jack Wolf: I think when the horse sort of stopped at the head of the stretch, it appeared that the horse was really tiring. I don’t know that another rider might have really gotten into the horse, whereas she just sort of waited and according to her, when horses come to Shanghai Bobby, at least one time prior to that, he had re-broken and tried for (inaudible), and I think her knowing that and anticipating that probably made the difference. Would another rider have been that familiar with him? I don’t know. So that’s what I was alluding to there.
Jeff Duncan: And just in general—I’m doing a profile on Rosie and I’m just curious, for people that are just getting to know her in the sport, what’s she like? What’s her personality like? Why is she such a successful rider?
Jack Wolf: She’s just unflappable. She’s cool. I mean—and she’s obviously comfortable on these horses and the horses respect and get that. But for a person her age – I think she’s 24 or 25 – I guess just the one word to describe her is she is very cool under fire, so—and actually, she’s a very talented rider too, so—and she’s young and she’s got a tremendous future ahead of her.
Melissa Hoppert: I was hoping that you could speak to if there’s been anything different done in training since his loss. Have you been going about—have they been going about the race any different?
Jack Wolf: No, they haven’t. You know, he’s had his normal number of breezes. Todd usually screws it down a little bit two works out, which he did a week ago this last Sunday, and according to Todd, he felt that that was probably his second or third best breeze that he’s ever had. So just normal operating procedure and, obviously, we’ve had a good bit of time off between the Holy Bull and this race. But to answer your question, Melissa, just training as usual.
Melissa Hoppert: Okay, and he appears to be training well?
Jack Wolf: Yes, I mean, he’s not a very good workhorse in the morning, according to Todd; but having said that, he’s shown up—even though he lost the Holy Bull, he’s shown up at every race. To hear Todd talk, I would say that (inaudible) probably out worked him a bit the other day. Todd’s got a tremendous barn full of good workhorses and good race day horses, and Shanghai Bobby is probably down the line a bit on the works and probably up the list on victories.
Eric Wing: Jack, two more from me before we part ways. First of all, for one of the writers who couldn’t be with us, what is your take on the Fountain of Youth winner, Orb?
Jack Wolf: You know, I really haven’t looked at his numbers, but I thought that the race, obviously, was very impressive. The horse that he beat I think Todd thought very highly of at the time. I’m not sure that this track necessarily will suit the way his races go, but having said that, there probably will be speed in there again. So I mean, I’ve got the utmost respect for Shug and his owners and the horse, so we’ve got our hands full.
Eric Wing: And finally, Jack, it shouldn’t go unmentioned that part of Shanghai Bobby’s rooting section, if you will, includes quite a strong contingent on the Internet and online. There’s a Shanghai Bobby blog right now at CourierJournal.com. He’s got his own Facebook page, he’s got his own Twitter feed. Can you talk about the importance and/or just plain fun of sharing your horse with the fans like that?
Jack Wolf: Well, you know, Elizabeth Ovelman joined us a few months ago and she has really done a tremendous job to develop, I think she said 1,200 followers and fans with the social media; and it’s been fun to see the interest in the horse, and I just have to take my hat off to her and to all the followers and people that are following us and thank her, and let’s have some good luck and a good race on Saturday, hopefully.
Eric Wing: Yes, and maybe there’ll be a couple of hundred more followers where that came from come Derby time. Here’s hoping.
Jack, thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today, and we wish you and Shanghai Bobby and everyone associated with the horse the best of luck in the Florida Derby.
Jack Wolf: Okay, thanks, Eric.
Eric Wing: Thank you. That’s Jack Wolf, principal of Starlight Racing, and it also should be noted, a member of the Board of Directors of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Jack Wolf – we’ll see his Starlight stable—Starlight Racing colors, rather, represented on Rosie Napravnik aboard Shanghai Bobby in the Florida Derby.
Our third and final guest today, a very distinguished racing gentleman whose face and voice are familiar to all, and he’ll be down in New Orleans for the Louisiana Derby this Saturday and that’ll be to watch Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice take on the others in that million dollar race. I’m referring, of course, to Cot Campbell.
Cot, it’s Eric Wing. How are you today?
Cot Campbell: I’m great, Eric. Good to hear you. Nice to be with you.
Eric Wing: Good to hear you too, as always, Cot. And first of all, your horse was stretching out for the first time in the Risen Star, and I suppose no matter how good, you never know quite what you’re going to get when they go two turns the first time. What was your take on the Risen Star?
Cot Campbell: Well, we thought it was a great race, and I guess he got a little short. He got beat a half a length, but he’s always been a horse that indicated he wanted to go a route, and we think he does; and so we’re hoping with that mile and a sixteenth under his belt, he’ll be salty going a mile and an eighth.
Eric Wing: And you mentioned he’s got that mile and a sixteenth under his belt, but he’s also got a few works under his belt; and I know, at least from what I read, that your trainer, Todd Pletcher, thought his most recent work on Sunday, five furlongs in a minute and four-fifths, I believe he called it a super work. That has to buoy your confidence further going into Saturday.
Cot Campbell: Yes, he’s done really good since his last race and this work on Sunday was a knockout; and Todd is not one to gush, as we all know, and I’ve never known him to be more enthusiastic than he was about the work. So that’s got us pumped up a little bit, we hope not too much.
Danny Brewer: Hey listen, the Palace Malice – four starts, four times in the muddy. Do you think he knows how to win?
Cot Campbell: I do think he does. I think there’s been some reasons he hasn’t. You make a good point though, because 10—20, 30 years ago, horses that were on the Derby trail and coming up to the Derby had run 10, 12, 15 times and they had more form than horses today, horses going to the Derby today with four races or three races or five races, and they’re still inexperienced. I think that’s an interesting situation.
But I think our horse does. He’s intelligent, he’s a confident kind of horse. He understands the game, and we’re hoping and praying for a decent post position so he doesn’t have to overcome some adversity like that.
Danny Brewer: What do you like about the Fairgrounds and Louisiana Derby? Why did you put Palace Malice here?
Cot Campbell: Well, obviously, Todd has been anxious to split his horses up, and when we—the Louisiana Derby looked like the ideal spot. One, we could get Rosie Napravnik, who of course is terrific at the Fairgrounds, and the field looked a little lighter. We weren’t dying to tackle Shanghai Bobby and so it just looked like the better spot. And I’m a New Orleans boy – I was born in New Orleans, so that’s a good reason.
Danny Brewer: Well so after he wins, are we having some of that good New Orleans cooking after he wins the Louisiana Derby?
Cot Campbell: Yes, we’re going to Commander’s Palace that night and kick the gong around.
Danny Brewer: Well I certainly hope it happens and I wish you the best of luck.
Randy Moss: Hey, Cot, you’ve seen a lot of these run-ups to the Triple Crown, to the Kentucky Derby. You just referenced the fact that horses have a lot fewer races going into the Derby now than they used to. What are the reasons you think this trend has taken such a strong hold?
Cot Campbell: I think, one, the breed is not as hardy; but I think it’s become a bit of a fad. I think Bobby Frankel may have got it started when he’d wait four or five months to run a horse, and I think other trainers thought, well, that’s the way to do it. And now, the leading trainers like four, five, six weeks between races, and I think others emulate that. I’m not saying a horse ought to run every five or six days like they used to in the old days, but I think they could run more often than they do, and I think that it hurts the game. I think people get into racing to have fun, and the more a horse runs, the more fun you have.
So I think those are the reasons – the breed’s a little bit more fragile, and I think this has become somewhat of a fad. I think someday a guy’s going to come along and he’s going to run his horses every two weeks or so, and he’s going to break up the game.
Randy Moss: Interesting, thank you.
Cot Campbell: Sure.
Jeff Duncan: Yes, Cot, you had Rosie Napravnik on Palace Malice before. You’ve seen a lot of riders over the years. What makes her such a special talent?
Cot Campbell: Well, I think great riders have an indefinable way of communicating with a horse, and no one has ever been able to put their finger on that. But obviously it’s not a tussle with the horse, and she does have, through her hands, a way of communicating confidence to a horse, and she’s a good finisher and just a marvelous rider and—so I—that would be my only comment.
Dick Downey: Hi, Mr. Campbell. Not to look ahead too far, but if Palace Malice gets enough points to make it to the Derby, when do you anticipate he would be shipped out of Florida?
Cot Campbell: Fifteenth of April. He—we’ll go back to Florida after this race and then go to Churchill on the 15th. I would say there’s a possibility if he runs a hellacious race but doesn’t get any points – you know, he got blocked and couldn’t get through and should have won, all that business – I think we’d have to entertain the Bluegrass on the 13th, in which case, he’d certainly go to Kentucky before the 15th.
Marc Doche: Hi, Mr. Campbell. You have been credited with being kind of the founder of partnerships in thoroughbred racing. Where do you think that landscape of partnership stands right now, how it’s evolved, and what are your feelings on some of the mark-ups that some of these partnerships are charging right now?
Cot Campbell: I’m not familiar with mark-ups, and I know we mark ours up. We end up keeping a horse or two every year that we buy, and he has some problem and we can’t syndicate him. So I think a decent mark-up is warranted, and I don’t—I can’t comment on the others. I think, in any endeavor, people need to make a respectable amount of money, so I do not, of course, quarrel with a mark-up, and I can’t understand how outfits operate that don’t mark horses up.
At any rate, I think partnerships are—it seems to me 60% of the horses racing today are racing for some sort of partnership, and it was unheard of when I started it and it always made a lot of sense. It still does, and I think every farm, practically every farm in Kentucky, they’re doing partnerships and it’s just—it’s probably been a great thing for racing.
Dick Downey: Can you give a general idea of what you think kind of a fair mark-up would be, percentage-wise?
Cot Campbell: Yes. I would say if we bought a horse for $100,000, we’d probably mark him up to $140,000 something like that. If we bought him for $100,000 we’d probably have $110,000 in him by the time we syndicate him, so I would see marking him to $140,000 - $150,000. I’d feel good about that.
Eric Wing: Cot, I just—just for the record, I want to point out—actually, I think you won’t have Rosie Napravnik aboard on Saturday because she’s going to be otherwise engaged with Shanghai Bobby, but I believe it’s Edgar Prado who will climb aboard Palace Malice. I know Edgar’s ridden for Dogwood a few times – I believe Atoned comes to mind – but have you had much luck with Edgar going back a few years? He seems to have been enjoying something of a renaissance in his career this year.
Cot Campbell: He’s red-hot and he’s a great, great rider.. He’s a Hall of Fame rider. He’s a Hall of Fame human being, and we were delighted to get him. We, of course, were not pleased to lose Rosie. We knew we probably would – she’d have to ride the two-year-old champion. But we were overjoyed to have Edgar, and we have had luck. We’ve had more luck with Edgar than Edgar’s had with us. He broke his leg on one our horses, and—so I think he’s forgiven us; but we’re delighted to have Edgar. He can get the job done, and he is red-hot at the moment.
Eric Wing: And, Cot, you made reference earlier to what I think was a well-justified concern about getting a very poor post position in what figures to be a large field. Among all the things that owners and trainers have to worry about before a race, looking at the race on Saturday, there’s the potential for that but also the point situation. Now, you are kind of in the same boat with some of the other Pletcher horses and horses from other stables. You’ve got 10. That probably won’t get it done by itself. This point system, does that add a level of kind of delightful tension that makes it more exciting for you, or less?
Cot Campbell: I think it’s interesting, and I think it’s an interesting way to look and plan, and we’ll all get used to it. When you start to knock it, when you think about it, I think it makes sense. It certainly needs tweaking; for instance, for the horse that wins the Breeder’s Cup to get 10 points is absurd. I guess, like Shanghai Bobby, if he doesn’t score pretty well on Saturday, he may not have enough points to get in the Derby and he is the two-year-old champion, which would be very unfortunate. But I like the system quite well and we’re hoping to pick up a gang of points Saturday; and if we don’t, we may look somewhere else to get them, or maybe we’ll decide at that point that we better call it a day and look to the Preakness or something.
Eric Wing: Very good. Well, Cot, it’s always a pleasure to have you on these calls and it—I think it gives everybody a little extra spring in their step when they know you and Dogwood have a horse pointing to the classics. We wish you and Palace Malice and everyone down there in Aiken the best of luck Saturday. We’ll certainly be watching.
Cot Campbell: You’re great, Eric. I’ve enjoyed being with you, pal. Take care of yourself.
Eric Wing: Thanks, Cot, you too. That’s Cot Campbell, the President of Dogwood Stables, Eclipse Award of Merit Winner, and he’ll be an excited owner, no doubt, going back to his native New Orleans for the million-dollar Louisiana Derby. And again, that race will be on live on NBC Sports network from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., along with the live telecast of the Besilu Stables Florida Derby.
We’ll be with you again next Tuesday, and let’s see – that will be Tuesday, April 2nd. We’ll go back to our 1:00 p.m. starting time at that point, so 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 2nd is when we’ll join you next. At that time, of course, we’ll take a look at races, including the We’ll take a look at races including the Wood Memorial and the Santa Anita Derby.
So glad you could be with us today and hope you can do so again next Tuesday. Thank you.
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the conference call for today. You may now disconnect your line and have a great day.
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