Eric Wing: Welcome to today’s NTRA Communications National Media Teleconference.
A big weekend coming up and as most of you know a pair of million dollar races taking place at Parx in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, just about 15 miles northeast of Philadelphia. On Saturday’s program at Parx, it’s already drawn; still have the Grade 1 million dollar Cotillion stakes for three-year old fillies and also the Grade 2 $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for three-year old males; and both of those races, incidentally, will be broadcast live on the Down The Stretch Race Of The Week radio program from 5 to 7 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Channel 93 and XM Channel 209. Dave Johnson and Bill Finley will do their customary fine job in providing all the race action and details for those two exciting events at Parx. Also, this weekend, at Belmont on Saturday, Win & You’re In Breeders’ Cup Challenge Event, the Grade 2 $200,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap. That race, of course, a feeder to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
A little later in the call, we’ll talk to trainer, Bill Kaplan, who has the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly or Mare Sprint Champion Musical Romance set to go in the Gallant Bloom. Horse has vanned up from Florida and worked out this morning. We’ll find out how it went. We’ll also talk to trainer, Ken McPeek, who has Golden Ticket, the dead-heat Travers winner ready to go in the million dollar Pennsylvania Derby. And right now we’re very pleased to be joined by a gentleman who will have Action (ph) in both halves of the million dollar doubleheader at Parx, Kiaran McLaughlin. He’s got Alpha, the Travers winner in the Pennsylvania Derby, and of course, Questing, the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama winner in the Cotillion.
Kiaran, it’s Eric Wing. How are you today?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Great, Eric. Thanks for having me.
Eric Wing: You’re welcome, Kiaran. And I don’t mean to scare you at all, but as you might know Philadelphia sports fans are notorious for being tough. It’s said they even booed Santa Claus. Are you feeling any extra pressure in your position of saddling a pair of what will be the likely favorites in those two million dollar races in Philly?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Not really, no. I mean, obviously all of our successes, both horses, have been in New York. We’re happy to travel to Parx and hope that we perform well there.
Eric Wing: Now, Kiaran, it would seem that there can be no distance questions in any way for Alpha. He’s successfully stretched out to a mile and a quarter, done just fine at a mile and an eighth in the past. With Questing, she actually turns back to a mile and a sixteenth, a distance she hasn’t run at least around two turns, well, except for the Breeders’ Cup, but this year she hasn’t. Is that turn back to a mile and a sixteenth in your opinion a good thing or a bad thing?
Kiaran McLaughlin: That’s a little concern. We probably would have preferred a mile and an eight or even further, but it shouldn’t be a big deal. I’m more concerned about giving My Miss Aurelia seven pounds and she is fast, so it’s going to be an interesting race for the first half mile, who’s in front and how fast we’re going. But we’re not really that concerned about the distance; it shouldn’t be a big deal.
Eric Wing: Do you have any clue as to how it might play out? I mean, you raised a great point that, you know, with such a short field it could be a jockey’s race particularly early, do you have a preference other than, you know, just being lose on the lead, but do you have any guess as to how it might turn out?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Well, being where post two and the other speed is My Miss Aurelia, Number 3. We will probably go into the first turn on the lead and then just see what happens, what Corey Nakatani decides to do. Hopefully we’re in front and he’s, you know, a length or two behind that pushing us along too fast, but we’ve proved we’re still fast and keep going. So it’s going to be interesting, you know, race and how it unfolds but her race is going long like in the Breeders’ Cup and (inaudible) last year she was on the lead also and that is this My Miss Aurelia shows pace going longer. So we have to respect her and we’re giving her seven pounds so it’s going to be interesting the first half of the race. Hopefully we’re in front and not going too fast.
Eric Wing: Yes, and if My Miss Aurelia is going really fast, she did prove in the Coaching Club that you don’t absolutely have to be on the lead when you stopped Yara in that race.
Kiaran McLaughlin: Correct, if she clears us and brakes quicker than us and clears us then we’ll lay second.
Jon White: Kiaran, you’ve mentioned a couple of times about about Questing having to give seven pounds to My Miss Aurelia, what is your opinion in terms of Grade 1 races and whether they should be all even weight when—if you’re racing at that level?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Well, that’s a very good question, Jon. I just, you know, it’s the way the conditions were penciled in at Parx this weekend and around the world a lot of times you get penalized for Grade 1 wins forever. They stay with you, you give at least three more pounds and then (inaudible) more than your opponents too. So it’s not something I haven’t dealt with before, but, you know, it’s a concern because, you know, 124 to 117 is a pretty big difference. She was a three-year old champion so it’s kind of tough that we’re giving her weight but we have—we do have the recent form of Grade 1 win but it’s a shame that it has to happen but I don’t think that it’s a big deal as far as Grade 1s go. Being equal weight I would probably prefer that, for sure. All—in your whole life I prefer that. I mean, It’s Tricky ran us (inaudible) stumbled badly, Todd Pletcher won the race but we had to give her nine pounds. Now they’ve come back in the Beldame. Next week at Belmont we’re going to be equal weight so that’s a big plus for us. So I would prefer them probably to be equal weight, especially when you have the horse to beat as a favorite. When you’re a long shot or you’re, you know, fourth choice, you’re hoping you get eight pounds or seven pounds.
Jon White: Questing was drifting out in the Alabama, has there—have you done anything in terms of her training regimen or her equipment in terms of dealing with that—with her?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Not really. We train her as a right hand and at Greentree always—we always have and it appears—I was just at the Kentucky sale at Keeneland and I spoke to John Gosden a little more about Questing and I was explaining to him that if you duck from the stick, and I kind of thought that it was because in England they’re not allowed to raise the stick above their shoulder, you have to keep it down always. And when he raised it she ducked both in the Coaching Club Oaks she went out pretty bad left handed and then the Alabama she ducked in, and then out, back and forth. So I will ask Irad not to lift the stick at all until he needs it and then go ahead and do what he has to do, but I prefer if he’s in front by three or four not hit her.
Jennie Rees: Hey, Kiaran. So I’m going to ask you about Questing and training her right-handed because I read that her work was actually…Her last work was right-handed. Is that because she did come from England?
Kiaran McLaughlin: No, it’s very interesting that we have talked about it for a couple of years when I brought in Neal mainly about training right-handed instead of left-handed always. Because most of our injuries come in the left front, right hind from going left-handed all the time, so we decided to switch up. This year we finally, you know, went ahead and said, “Let’s go right-handed with some of these horses that show anything left front, right hind, and just do it to freshen them up and to change things.” So we have been training a lot of horses and all of our key horses right-handed, as in It’s Tricky, Questing, Alpha and Emcee all. Since Saratoga closed, they’ve all been training right-handed; some work left-handed, some work right-handed. But it’s just to freshen them up and if there’s any issues at all usually they’re left front so we hope that they get better by training the other way.
Jennie Rees: So—but I mean, so, like, everyday when they gallop they’ll gallop right-handed?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Yes. And it looks…
Jennie Rees: I mean that…
Kiaran McLaughlin: Different but they do it very well.
Jennie Rees: Does it take any adjustment on the part of the exercise riders or?
Kiaran McLaughlin: No, it’s really been very easy and a smooth transition. It’s really been interesting. It’s kind of weird for me to watch them come at me on their left lead down the stretch, you know…
It looks funny but that’s the leader supposed to be on and it comes natural to the horse and they just switch over to their right lead and go into the turn. So we haven’t had any issues whatsoever and all of the horses have gotten happier and better being able to just change it up a little bit.
Jennie Rees: But it’s just since Saratoga that you’ve been doing this at Greentree?
Kiaran McLaughlin: No, we’ve been doing it all summer but…
Jennie Rees: All summer
Kiaran McLaughlin: Certain horses that Alpha, trained on the main track the whole meet and then when it closed we obviously stayed at Greentree. So he’s training right-handed also and Emcee has stayed up and he’s been training right-handed for a couple of months and It’s Tricky just has been here since the beginning of the meet and we switched her up to going right-handed also just lately just to freshen her up a little bit.
Jennie Rees: And so is it—you’re the only one at Greentree now, your horses or?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Yes, there’s a couple for—they’re only Sheikh Mohammed horses…
Jennie Rees: Yes.
Kiaran McLaughlin: So Eoin Hardy has some and Tom Albertrani has some, so we just kind of tell each other, ‘I’m going to track,” then we time it right where we have the track to ourselves (ph).
Jennie Rees: Yes, interesting. And I have a Pennsylvania Derby question. If they say that a tie is like kissing your sister, what is a deadheat like?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Well, it’s very important for three-year old colts, three-year old fillies, and it was very important for us to get that Grade 1 win for Alpha. Go back to last year in the Vanderbilt when Trappe Shot lost by a nose…
And it was just the dirtiest noses to get beat because you’re trying to hopefully win Grade 1s for these colts, for these stallions, and it makes their value so much more—they’re so much more valuable to be Grade 1 winners. So Alpha is a Grade 1 win and I don’t—you know, it feels great to share the Grade 1 with Kenny McPeek or anybody for that matter. This time it’s Kenny McPeek. Because it makes the horse and the stud that much more valuable as a stallion and it helps Bernardini and, you know, it’s just great for the whole operation.
Jennie Rees: So was it a relief that you felt or excitement when they hung up the numbers?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Both. I mean, I was excited. At first I didn’t think we were going to get there. And then they hung it up three, six, so it was—Kenny’s was first so it was disappointment for four seconds until the deadheat light came on…And then it was exciting because a wins a win and we needed that. So it wouldn’t have been fair to either one of us to lose by an inch.
Geoffrey Riddle: I’m just—I’m not sort of particularly knowledgeable with the American program. Is there—because you may read there are other options for Alpha and Questing going into this weekend, I mean, why do you choose the races for them where they have to concede all the weight?
Kiaran McLaughlin: That’s a very good question, Geoffrey, and the reason is is because this is the last opportunity for Alpha to keep him in their age bracket Questing could run in the Beldame next Saturday at a mile and an eight, one turn at Belmont but it’s against older fillies and obviously we have It’s Tricky in there. So it’s nice to keep them at their own age bracket as long as we can. Alpha could run in the Jockey Gold Cup at the end of the month or first part of October. I think it’s the 29th also. Or he stays with three—straight three-year olds and we opted to stay with straight three-year olds. So that the main reason is that they’re both million dollar races and against their own age which is very important. We hate to give up the weight but we have one Grade 1s this summer so sometimes you have to give up the weight.
Geoffrey Riddle: Okay. I understand at Greentree you’ve got Poly track surface there… Could you talk about what facility you have there?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Sheikh Mohammed purchased Greentree a few years ago and put in a Polytrack. It’s about a mile oval and it’s the Keeneland Polytrack. Martin, somebody over there in England, is the one behind it. So it’s a great surface. I think we’ve learned more about t it this year in how to maintain it and we have a few new pieces of equipment to look after it and it’s been a great plus and advantage for us this summer to train on it. When it’s wet or raining it stays good and just the fact that we’re back there by ourselves and the facilities are fabulous. We have paddocks, you know, like one acre paddocks that the horse can be turned out in. We have round pens that they all go out in before they train and green grass to graze in twice a day and it’s just a fabulous facility.
Geoffrey Riddle: I understand that you hadn’t seen Alpha for 10 days prior to last Friday, do you see any changes in him at all while you were away?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Not really, no. He’s just doing very well. He’d put on a few more pounds and he’s very happy; right now training great. So he’s just doing very well.
Geoffrey Riddle: And lastly I think Art Magnuson’s your man in Belmont, who looks after the house (ph) at Greentree when you’re away?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Neal McLaughlin, my brother, and his wife, Trish.
Tim Wilkin: Hey, Kiaran. I talked to you a little bit yesterday about—you might have been a little surprised with Golden Ticket and the Travers but that being said now that you’re going to be facing them in Pennsylvania how formidable of an opponent do you think he is?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Well I think that he ran very well last time and had a great trip and he’s improving and that was his first start since May, so I feel like he’s one of the main horses as to—as far as across the line, I also think Macho Macho, Steve Asmussen’s horse, coming off the West Virginia Derby are the two main opponents, it looks like.
Tim Wilkin: Could this be the—well, maybe it already has. Could this be a rivalry starting between you and Golden Ticket?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Yes, it very well could be. It’s, you know, obviously this is a rematch so we’ll see how it goes, but you never know going forward.
Jennie Rees: Do you like the idea that these two horses that deadheated a month earlier are hooking up again in another million dollar race?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Yes, I think that it’s good for the business and good for everybody involved and we both have to carry the same weight again. So everything is—seems to be—it’ll be fun to see us run against them again and see how it goes. I mean, we definitely have always done better in New York, and Alpha, hopefully—it’s just Churchill Downs he doesn’t like, so hopefully Parx he likes okay.
Eric Wing: Kiaran, I would—just jumping back to something you were talking about earlier with the weight discrepancies in these two races. A lot of people who complain about the sport penalizing its stars usually do so in reference to handicap races, do you find it ironic that these weight discrepancies are kind of written into the conditions and if it were a handicap the spread would probably be much closer?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Yes, I don’t know if the Pennsylvania Derby weights would be closer but, —it is what it is and I respect them for penalizing the Grade 1 horses; it just happens to be us right now. But, you know, I don’t like it normally, but they are a favorite, both of them, Alpha and Questing, and if a favorite should be the high weight, so we’ve, you know, been fortunate to win some important races in the last month or so. So it’s not a big deal. It’s just not, you know, an ideal situation. It’s best if we get even a photo finish.
Eric Wing: And lastly, Kiaran, you mentioned their names earlier, but could you give us a quick update on It’s Tricky and Emcee?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Emcee is training very well. We’re going to go most likely straight to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. I spoke to Simon Crisford about that and he said, “Proceed on” and It’s Tricky’s going in the Beldame next Saturday and then on to the Breeders’ Cup. Which Breeders’ Cup we haven’t decided yet. Obviously she could go seven-eighths, or the Ladies Classic. We’ll see how Questing does Saturday.
Eric Wing: Very good. Well, Kiaran, good luck with those two down the line, and more pressingly, good luck with both Questing and Alpha this Saturday at Parx in those two big money races. We appreciate you coming on the call, as always.
Kiaran McLaughlin: Thanks, Eric.
Eric Wing: Thank you. That’s Kiaran McLaughlin. A hard encore for Kiaran after the Saratoga meeting he had but he’s got to take the next steps and he will do so Saturday at Parx Racing with Alpha in the Grade 2 million dollar Pennsylvania Derby and Questing in the Grade 1 million dollar Cotillion Stakes. As mentioned, that Cotillion shapes up at least on paper as a battle between Questing and My Miss Aurelia, and in the Pennsylvania Derby of course we have the two horses who deadheated to win the Travers in Alpha and Golden Ticket. And joining us now is Golden Ticket’s trainer, Kenny McPeek. Kenny, it’s Eric Wing. How are you today?
Kenny McPeek: I’m doing pretty good.
Eric Wing: Kenny, the big leap forward by Golden Ticket in the Travers and he ran that race off basically a three-month layoff, is that jump up in your mind more a case of the distances finally suiting him to a tee or the physical maturity as the summer progressed? Or both?
Kenny McPeek: He’s always run well at the distance-to-ground on the dirt and, you know, I’m probably guilty of sprinting him one too many times in his career. But, you know, he is getting better physically and I was joking around. We’re just actually using the Travers as a prep for the Pennsylvania Derby is all it is. So he (inaudible) goes to the next level.
Eric Wing: The money is certainly good enough in Philadelphia to use just about any other race as a prep for it but—but, you know, in speaking of those two races, Kenny, in the Travers you were—I mean, the facts are you ran a 33 to 1 shot, Saturday you’re running a horse that you absolutely know fits the race like a glove, is it a different feeling this time around with Golden Ticket?
Kenny McPeek: Yes, there’s no doubt. We had no pressure at all the last time. We also kind of like to think that, you know, we could beat Alpha this time. It’s a great grudge match over there. That’ll be interesting to see how that pans out. And I know Kiaran had his horse ready. But it’s all good. You know, we’re just keeping our fingers crossed that it goes smooth between now and Saturday and we could get the horse over there and get him settled in and he runs well.
Jennie Rees: Yes. Kenny, and I asked Kiaran this, but as they say a tie is like kissing your sister, what is a deadheat?
Kenny McPeek: Well, we’re not the—that he’s been sick if we had lost You know, so even if it is a deadheat it does (inaudible) so we’re not going to make a negative out of that at all.
Jennie Rees: Yes. But just—because Kiaran was talking about how, first, he said he got beat because he said they posted it and it took him, like, four seconds to come up with a deadheat, did you think that you had won it—you know, I mean, what—did your emotions change at all in those four—you know, you’re happy and then you see it’s a deadheat, was it just still all the same or was there any, you know, any other …
Kenny McPeek: When they posted the three on the board on top of the six I thought we had won it and then he says to me “Deadheat.” I just thought it was hilarious. It is still a positive. I mean, he would have been sick. I mean, I – somebody when I was walking down the stairs, somebody said, “Ah, you were second, you were second,” and I was like, “Oh, hope not. That one’s going to hurt if we are.”
Kenny McPeek: But it worked out fine. But the reaction—there was a little bit of delay before the deadheat sign went up which was a little bit confusing. But it worked out.
Jennie Rees: Yes. It’s—do you like the idea that both horses just a month later going for a million dollars against each other again? I mean, is that—It’s a great grudge match.
Kenny McPeek: Yes, I mean, I think the sport’s in these rivalries but, you know, hopefully this is not the only time we ever get to run against each other on something like that but it’s—I’m excited. I think my horse is going to improve off his last race and if he does that I think it’d be pretty salty (ph).
Jennie Rees: Yes, I was going to ask you, do you see any difference? Seems like coming into this race than the last race and…
Kenny McPeek: He needed the last race. I mean, he drank over a bucket of water in the spit box. That’s a horse who had gotten tired. So if he can improve then all the better and he’s going to need to do that. I mean, they’re not going to give it away over there. So that’s hopefully—hopefully goes in there and he fires his best shot.
Tim Wilkin: Hey, Kenny. The—you had—in the Travers it was 33 to 1 and I’m sure a lot of people who didn’t expect you to be where you were at the end, what would you say to people that think it might have been a fluke?
Kenny McPeek: No, I don’t think so. I mean, if you studied the sheet numbers, the (inaudible) numbers, we had run within range of those types of horses but especially in the Tampa Bay Derby was a really good race for the colt. But he needed to improve off that and he did and I’m sure that (inaudible) will –maybe will regress this time but I think tendency for my horses is is a good race, a better race and then a best race. So hopefully runs a little bit better than the last time just off fitness level and it—I hope it wasn’t a fluke. I hope they’re wrong. So, we’ll see.
Tim Wilkin: Can you think about historically what happened at the Travers? It did happen once before obviously before any of us were even alive. Has that sunk in to you at all?
Kenny McPeek: You know, having trained the longest Belmont winner in history and now the most recent or really recent major classic that I can remember deadheating, yes, it’s pretty neat. You know, we’ve got—I guess I got—we’ve got a place in the record book some place and maybe a hundred years from now they’re still talking about it, who knows. But it’s a really neat thing. I mean, I was—you always want to win those races. I had been second in Travers with Repent and I’ve been fourth with a horse named Wild and Wicked and to have, you know, even the deadheat to win and then another fourth with Atigun, I’m proud of it. We’ve been competitive in those spots and it’s a blessing to have those kind of horses to get in those kind of races. And they’re hard to win, so they’re supposed to be.
Tim Wilkin: What is your opinion of Alpha?
Kenny McPeek: I try to watch him close when he was in Kentucky in the spring. You know, he’s, physically, he’s a well made horse but he’s not a horse that you look at and you go, “Wow, I mean, I’m scared of him.” I think I can remember walking over and looking at Quality Road walking the paddock and say, “I don’t have a horse that’s a big and strong like that. I don’t have a chance here.” But Alpha’s not an imposing horse. She’s—he’s an efficient well made horse. And actually Golden Ticket’s similar; Golden Ticket’s a small horse. Not a horse that would be, you know, make your jaw drop when he walked in front of you but they obviously both can run.
Geoffrey Riddle: Hi there, Kenny. Can you just fill me in a bit on how you and Kiaran know each other from way back?
Kenny McPeek: Well, we both grew up on the south side of Lexington.
Geoffrey Riddle: Yes.
Kenny McPeek: Kiaran’s a couple of years older than me. And I first met Kiaran at a—at Southland Park, which is in between—well, in between Tates Creek Road and Keeneland, and probably—I probably was 10; he might have been 12. He had a head full of red hair and I had a head full of blond hair, believe it or not. But just in passing in a Midget Football tryout and long time ago and I kind of crossed paths with him and we had mutual friends that grew up with and it was all good. It was great—it’s a great town to grow up in and just happened to know him in passing more than anything. Wouldn’t say he’s a close friend but certainly a good acquaintance; long time acquaintance.
Eric Wing: Kenny, since we have the luxury of the past performances already for a Saturday race, it seems like there’s not a ton of pace in the Pennsylvania Derby; can you kind of envision Golden Ticket and Alpha with their similar tactical running styles being in fairly close proximity during the race?
Kenny McPeek: Well I’m going to leave that to David Cohen. We practiced how he would sit on that horse going into the Travers repeatedly and he’s got a real good idea of how he feels underneath. He—we’re actually—we actually used a neck strap on him and if you look at the picture he had a neck strap on and David used to hang on to as opposed to grabbing the bit because he—we kind of feel like he’s a free-running horse. But he’ll have a neck strap on again and, you know, my instructions in the Travers were for David just to sit completely still. It didn’t matter to me if he was on the pace or off the pace but just to sit completely still and wait until they (inaudible) and said, “If you find yourself on the rail, stay there. You’re going to need every inch to win this thing,” and he snuck through on the fence and didn’t really let the horse go until the quarter pole so that won’t be—there won’t be any change in those tactics. I hope he can match, you know, the (inaudible) and the Travers because it was a fabulous job.
Eric Wing: And it was also undoubtedly the highlight of his riding career. He started out in California, came to New York where he’s done well though he’s not—the marquee name, that a Dominguez or a Velazquez is, perhaps. Could you comment on Cohen’s skills?
Kenny McPeek: Well, I think he’s very underrated. I think he’s trying to find his way. If you look back at all the great riders, you know, I’ve probably been fortunate enough to be around the likes—you know, Pat Day’s won many races for me; Jerry Bailey did as well. You know, Pat Day struggled before—or in his twenties. David’s doing better in his twenties than probably Pat did. Jerry Bailey struggled around the Midwest and couldn’t really find his way to the elite until Mac Miller (ph) gave him an opportunity. So—but I think David Cohen wants to be great and actually that’s why, when was it, May (ph), he really wants to be in the high end of the jockey colony. He doesn’t—and I think he was frustrated riding some of the claiming horses that he was riding on a regular basis because he feels like he’s good enough to ride those kind of—and I’m—and actually I’ve struggled my way along as a claiming trainer and work my way through young horses to make it to a higher level, but this young man wants to be in a higher level and he’s showing me the work ethic and the talent and the guts to ride against those kind of riders and those kind of races. He has no fear whatsoever.
Eric Wing: Well, clearly, he made the most of the opportunity you gave him in the Travers. Kenny, before we say goodbye, could you bring us up-to-date on your Horse Races Now app and how everything is going along with that?
Kenny McPeek: Yes, I mean, we’re up to about 30,000 downloads which is good. We’re financial—we’re at a huge negative right now but people seem to be enjoying using it. We’re trying to figure out how we’re going to monetize it; although we’re not necessarily wanting to get rich off of it so much as just provide a service to a sport that needs it. And there’s some things going on. We’ve had recent updates; opening the app store this morning, or actually yesterday, and we’re continually tweaking and making it better and better. It’s a really, really neat product and there’s a lot more of what I would call bells and whistles coming. At some point we would like to have a—or we feel like we need a strategic partner with Horse Races Now because the—what we really—we don’t have all the content and that is a struggle. We’ve got about half the racetracks in the U.S. and the hardest industries’ interested and—but that we haven’t—we have to do some coding for that to happen.
So it’s a work in progress but, you know, I put my heart and soul into this sport and this is just nothing more than a reflection of, you know, how I feel about the game and I do think that something needs to be done innovative to bring a younger generation into you being able to easily view it, view racing, get information, make it simple, easy task. So, we’re going to just kind of take a steady approach and see how this thing evolves.
Eric Wing: Okay. So, for now, Kenny, people can still pick it up easily at the app store for free and more improvements and changes are coming in the not-too-distant future then. Do I have that right?
Kenny McPeek: Up until now has—is able to download it for free and keep it for free. We’re actually—we’re contemplating—actually may start charging $0.99 in the next few days. It’s just a basic fee for a minimal service that we have there but the $0.99 charge includes replays and such. But we’ve got to figure out a way to get the—and that’s a one-time download charge, but we’ve got to figure out a way to get it so that it does monetize itself. And we’ve got some creative ideas coming.
The Android version will be finished more than likely in the next month and that will give us the—once the android’s done we’ll be able to do some advertising, and when we advertise I think we can really expand our base and, you know, we’ll push this thing into, you know, six digits, and hopefully seven, one day as far as numbers of downloads. So, we’ll see. And it’s been a challenging project. We’ve got pushing—well, over $400,000 in it and right now no light at the end of the tunnel in getting it out but we’ll see. I think eventually if it works well people will, you know, understand that we’ve got to try to get something back.
Eric Wing: Well it sounds exciting just hearing you describe it, Kenny. I don’t think that $0.99 is going to scare anybody off. And I’m very pleased to hear that all the little new developments and prospects for it as time marches on. And thank you very much for coming on the call today. And it goes without saying we wish you and your team and David Cohen the best of luck Saturday in Philly with Golden Ticket.
Kenny McPeek: Thank you.
Eric Wing: That’s Kenny McPeek. He accounted for—I guess you could say one half of the Travers victory along with Kiaran McLaughlin. Kenny trains Golden Ticket who will have a rematch against the Kiaran McLaughlin trained Alpha Saturday for a million bucks in the Pennsylvania Derby going a mile and an eighth.
Okay. And the other race we’re going to talk about today is a Breeders’ Cup challenge Win & You’re In Event, and one of the marquee names in the Grade 2 $200,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap is the 2011 Champion Filly or Mare Sprinter, Musical Romance. He won of course the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint this year and as part of her road back to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in 2012 she’ll be running Saturday at Belmont. Joining us now is her trainer, Bill Kaplan.
Bill, it’s Eric Wing in New York. How are you today?
Bill Kaplan: Good, Eric. Glad to be with you.
Eric Wing: Glad to have you with us, Bill. And at first I was going to ask you about the trials and tribulations, shall we say, of vanning a horse all the way from Florida to New York, but when I saw my stable mail today I realized she had obviously made the trip successfully because she worked out this morning at Belmont around the dogs three furlongs in :35 and four breezing. How did that work go and how did the trip up go?
Bill Kaplan: The work was good. The dogs were out there expecting some heavy rain up there. I don’t know it’s probably already started. And I think she might have been the only horse that worked this morning but she worked really nicely; really easy on one hand. And what I did was just worked her down the stretch and, you know, the quarter pole starts into the stretch and she can get three furlongs to a mile without making a turn. So it was a nice, smooth work. She’s well within herself and she’s finished real nicely.
As far as vanning her, we had it come in on—let’s see, that was Thursday, Friday. It’s between 22 to 23-hour trip straight through from South Florida to New York, but it’s a tough trip on a horse normally because it’s a—first of all, it’s the summertime and that ultimately you’re standing all the way from South Florida on up in a van. We’d have too much moving around. But the way I did it it was not too bad for her because we took half the van and opened it up, made a stall for her for her to move then stand up that way and came straight on through. And it’s of course much colder now than it had been but still she made the trip really well.
Eric Wing: Well that’s good. And hopefully the driver stayed fresh and alert throughout that 23-hour journey. Bill, Musical Romance has had a much lighter campaign this year compared to last year and the year before, in part because I know you couldn’t arrange suitable transportation to Saratoga for the Ballerina or to Presque Isle, as we stand today on September 18th, are you fine with how her 2012 campaign has unfolded this year?
Bill Kaplan: Oh, very much so. I think that she’d done really, really well. You know, last year was a different ball game. She was in the hunt to go to the Breeders’ Cup and she had to prove that she belonged there and she went through a lot of different shorter, smaller races, non-graded races. This year we concentrated on graded events and it’s worked out real good and if it continues like this we’ll be fine for the year.
Eric Wing: And I saw in the news today Musical Romance has entered in the Fasig-Tipton November sale which I believe is November 5th or 6th, very shortly after the Breeders’ Cup. Is this going to be kind of a bittersweet last month and a half for you with her?
Bill Kaplan: You know, that looks that way. It’s really hard to let her go because not only is she a champion and going to be a champion again but she’s as sound as the first day she ever raced. So it’s a tough, tough situation but, you know, sometimes you’ve got to let go, what’s the best thing. I’m sure whoever buys her is probably going to retire to the breeding shed, but who knows. You never know.
Jennie Rees: Yes. Bill, are you looking forward to perhaps in the Breeders’ Cup hooking up with, or facing Groupie Doll again, and maybe getting a do-over for the race at Churchill Downs?
Bill Kaplan: You know, that should be a very exciting event if she’s go in there and everything else goes. Sure, looking forward to it but I wouldn’t mind if she wasn’t in there. But, yes, she’s quite impressive. I mean, that was an unbelievable race she ran in the (inaudible) at—on Breeders’ Cup Day at Churchill Downs where she set the track record. You know, I don’t think a lot of people realize what she really accomplished that day, Groupie Doll, and not only did she set a track record but she ran, I believe, three fifths of a second faster than the boys at the same distance and Amazombie and the other—Shackleford which are champions in their own right…
Jennie Rees: Yes.
Bill Kaplan: Well she ran faster than the boys did the same distance, the same day, the same surface, and that’s an unbelievable thing and she did it well in the front by seven lengths. Those two guys were battling it out at the wire. So that performance she put in that day was unearthly. Like, it was really amazing.
Jennie Rees: And…
Bill Kaplan: And if she throws something like that again everyone’s going to be in trouble.
Jennie Rees: Well, could you talk about the division in general? I mean, the champion’s back, and you’ve got Bafferts fillies, Contested, Groupie Doll just this group of—oh, and Turbulent Descent, and there’s some very nice (inaudible) sprinters out there.
Bill Kaplan: Yes, if everything seems to go the way it’s going towards the Breeders’ Cup it’s going to be one heck of a—one hell of a race. This division is this year absolutely top loaded with some of the greatest mares that ever fast-sprinted in a long time so that Groupie Doll and Turbulent Descent—of course Turbulent Descent we defeated in the Breeders’ Cup last year and she had a rough trip going and then she’s come back, I believe she’s back in her top form. So it’s—and that I imagine she’ll be running. So this is a really strong division this year and I think the Breeders’ Cup will be the answer again for the Distaff honors and the Eclipse Award.
Jennie Rees: Did you consider going back in the Presque Isle Masters or was the appeal of the Gallant Bloom the fact that, you know, it’s a Win & You’re In and the expenses and entry fees are paid?
Bill Kaplan: Well, the real—well our real original plan was to go in the Ballerina or the Presque Isle Masters but personally the transportation’s impossible. (Audio interference) because Federal Express who non-stop from Fort Lauderdale to New Jersey and then you could van the rest of the way for the Ballerina to Saratoga, and last year they all—we flew with Federal Express to Indiana and then into Pittsburgh. This year they don’t have that flight into Jersey anymore, direction, everything goes through Memphis. We would have had to fly to Memphis overnight—I mean, stay there on the ground for about six hours, then take another flight out to Pittsburgh and then take a van into Erie, Pennsylvania. And add that on top, I think it was still in the summer and it was a lot hotter then, so those extra few weeks we got through this weekend, that’s last weekend, really helped to cool down and of course be a much shorter trip into New York and to either Saratoga or Presque Isle. So there was the transportation problems on both those places.
Jennie Rees: So you decided the most direct way was just your own express van from Miami to New York for the…
Bill Kaplan: Yes, we really—it was a really terrific trip. I mean, Brickley’s (ph) did a hell of a job outfitting the van the first day. We took half the van, cut it in half, made a big stall out of that, half the van. So her area filled up with straw up to her knees, it’s bigger than a barn stall back home – back at the barn so it was a fantastic trip for her; it was very smooth, it was cool for riding and a lot better than going the 28 hours up to Saratoga, the 27 hours to Presque Isle.
Jennie Rees: Okay. Great. Well, good luck. Thanks, Bill.
Bill Kaplan: Thank you, Jennie. And hope you’re on our side for a little bit this year.
Bill Kaplan: Jennie was really tossed up between a couple of horses and we had breakfast up at Churchill Downs right before the Breeders’ Cup and we were talking about divisional champions. So, but she’s a Kentucky lady and I don’t blame her for her loyalties over there and everything turned out good as far as we’re concerned.
Jennie Rees: That’s right, that’s right. You got the champion.
Bill Kaplan: Thank you very much, Jennie.
Jennie Rees: Thanks.
Carol Holden: Hi, Mr. Kaplan. Thanks a lot for joining us today. I know you’ve had a successful racing career but I would think Musical Romance is sort of the pinnacle of that. I was wondering if you could just give us some of your thoughts and reflections of your career with Musical Romance? Hopefully it continues but I know you talked about the possibility of her being sold.
Bill Kaplan: Yes, Musical Romance, once in a lifetime, once in my lifetime, for sure, I’m going to, you know, see a horse of her caliber. She was a—such an amazing, amazing story. She started out getting injured the first day on the training track when she came in (inaudible) after we bought her in the sale in OBS and had to get a couple of screws put into (inaudible) and, you know, it was pretty devastating back then. You know, he was right there and we thought we were, you know, might not have anything left. She came back after that, after the screws were inserted in there and she hasn’t missed a beat from then on and that’s three years of solid racing and she’s an amazing story. We really thought—I—well, I really thought she was a distance filly, especially on the grass, early in her career and her entire three-year old year was spent going long and on the turf and she did good. She went stake (ph) and she did fine. And lo and behold, we reran her one time in the sprint and she just ran unbelievably well and a light bulb started to go out on our head and then we ran (inaudible) this last year. So I’d say it (inaudible) into her four-year old year is when we moved her over to sprinting and then she just became the amazing sprinter that she’s becoming. So it’s unusual to see a horse that has a good career going long go back to sprinting. You see some sprinters eventually turn into distance horses as you get hold of it, she’s gotten better speed-wise as she got older and she’s just remarkable, a remarkable filly.
Carol Holden: At what point along the way in her career did you really look forward to going to the barn in the morning knowing you had something special there?
Bill Kaplan: Well it was pretty early but I would say somewhere late three-year old year and then into the four-year old year we started to get a little bit high on her and we started to do everything really well but when she became a sprinter and showed a whole new ability we knew we were on—a whole new tiger by the tail there and that no one seemed to realize that all the way through all the races up through Presque Isle and then to Keeneland and then to the Breeders’ Cup. I mean, she went off the double-digits in every one of those races and kept winning and no one really thought it was possible to do what she’s doing and we wound up now having a total of 38 races behind her and that is remarkable for a top class, world-class sprinter to be able to stay sound through 38 graded and stakes events. And the grind of being a sprinter, you know, which is really hard on most horses but this filly is an iron filly. She’s, as they said on the program on TV, she’s a throwback to the golden age of racing. She’s able to run 14 times in a Breeders’ Cup race career. Starting the year that she won the Breeders’ Cup she ran 13 times the year before. She’s run relatively light this year, only five or six times, but that’s only because of the transportation problem we had in South Florida, but she’s been remarkably sound. It’s just so unusual to see such a sound horse have so many races and relish running so much. So she’s really remarkable. I feel like I’ve been part of an experience that just doesn’t happen.
Van Kushni: Yes, I know that entries haven’t been drawn yet, but who are you most concerned about in the race coming up on Saturday? And in particular, could you address My Miss Aurelia who’s undefeated, I believe, five or six career starts to champion two year old last year, and Amazombie who’s won two graded stakes (inaudible). These are three-year olds both of them stepping up to face older horses, if in fact they both enter.
Bill Kaplan: Well I think this Miss—My Miss Aurelia’s going to be in the race effectively. She’s—I think she’s running—when is she’s running, I heard?
Van Kushni: She’s entered in the Cotillion, one of four.
Bill Kaplan: That’s right, she’s one of the four horses that I’m sure she’s not going to (inaudible) and come up to New York. So I don’t think she’ll…
Van Kushni: Yes.
Bill Kaplan: Be running in the Gallant Bloom. And I think the horse in the Gallant Bloom if she runs will be Turbulent Descent, now under the tutelage of Pletcher and she has the credentials and she was really outstanding going up the Breeders’ Cup last year and had a terrible start out of that race and a very tough trip compromised her chance and I think she went off favor in that race last year and (inaudible) come back and won a Grade 1 event this year. I mean, the Ballerina was hers and she’s probably the tougher horse and might run off and become the favorite in the race, I don’t know, if she runs.
Eric Wing: Bill, this will be not only Musical Romance’s first race at Belmont but also—well, at least aboard Musical Romance it’ll be (inaudible) as well, will you give him any specific instructions about dealing with the wide turn?
Bill Kaplan: Well, no, I won’t but I’ll—he’s—I have working for me now, Tony Grail. A world class rider in his own right, retired from race riding about 12 years ago and he works for me now. He’s an exerciser rider and he’s had a lot of success at Belmont. So we’ll talk to him about the actual trip. And we’re trying to get him a race prior to our race up there to ride. And Juan Leyva is a remarkable, remarkable rider and he has a thing going with his mare that’s hard to explain. He has a way to know exactly what she can do—doing. She does whatever he tells her to do. I mean, she’ll run through—she’ll try and run through the eye of a needle if he points her that way. So she gives everything she’s got to this rider and I’m not concerned at all about the trip because Juan will make the right moves with her. And as far as the wide turns at Belmont and they won’t stretch (ph) I think we’ll leave that to Tony Grail to brief him and all that.
Eric Wing: Yes, New York racing fans of a certain age remember Tony the Rail (ph) very well. And lastly, Bill, you were referring to Musical Romance as something of an iron horse, I feel like I read somewhere where you were saying that you were kicking around the idea of running Musical Romance one time—one additional time before the Breeders’ Cup after the Gallant Bloom. Is that true, and if so, do you have any particular race in mind?
Bill Kaplan: Yes, it’s possible. We’ll come back after the Gallant Bloom, either way, win or lose, whatever, back to our home base of Calder. There’ll be an overnight stake I believe sometime in October, early October and it is possible, that it’s everything looks great, we’ll be able to use that as, as I say, as a workout type of thing for the Breeders’ Cup. And she is an iron horse, there’s no doubt about that. And I’m specifically looking forward to New York because I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I have got a lot of friends and family there and I’m looking forward to seeing. And a lot of our partners in Pinnacle are from the New York area so it’s kind of a homecoming. We’re not going for a visitors (inaudible); the way I look at it we’re going for a home field advantage.
Eric Wing: Very good. Well, it’s shaping up as a salty race as has been pointed out and so maybe that home field advantage will come in handy. But, Bill, terrific job that you’ve done with Musical Romance up to this point and we wish you continued success with her Saturday in the Gallant Bloom and beyond. Thanks very much for coming on the call with us.
Bill Kaplan: My pleasure. Thank you, gentlemen.
Eric Wing: Thank you. That’s trainer, Bill Kaplan. He is not just the trainer but the co-owner of Musical Romance that’s been a lucrative proposition in its own right, as she has bank-rolled 1.6 million plus thus far in her career. And Bill and Musical Romance will try to add to that total Saturday in the Grade 2 $200,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap and that race as has been mentioned is a Win & You’re In event for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, the race that Musical Romance won last year at Churchill Downs