National Media Teleconference (Asmussen, Brown, Baffert)

October 25, 2017 – NTRA National Media Teleconference

Breeders’ Cup Preview

Guest (probable entrant)

  • Trainer Steve Asmussen (Gun Runner, more)
  • Trainer Chad Brown (Lady Eli, Beach Patrol, more)
  • Trainer Bob Baffert (Arrogate, Collected, West Coast, Drefong, more)

Click below to listen to the Teleconference and scroll down to view the transcript.

Jim Gluckson:

Good day everyone.  And welcome to the Breeders’ Cup Pre-Entry Media Teleconference for the 34th Breeders’ Cup World Championships to be held for the first time in Del Mar on 3rd and 4th November.  With us today will be trainers, prominent trainers for this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championship; Steve Asmussen, Chad Brown and Bob Baffert.  We also have with us Tom Robbins, the Chairman of the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors and Secretaries Panel and the Executive Vice President of Racing at Del Mar, for any questions on the fields.

 

Just a few statistical notes before we begin with our first guest.  We have 187 horses pre-entered for this year and we have a record 46 from overseas – 46 horses from overseas have been pre-entered – nine defending champions and seven of our races are oversubscribed with more than 14 horses, or more than 12 in the Turf Sprint.

 

Pre-entry is the first stage of a two-stage entry process.  Payments were due Monday for owners intending to run horses in the Breeders’ Cup.  The second payment will be due on Monday, 30th October, when entry is closed and post positions will be drawn later that day at 15.30 Pacific for all 13 races.

 

Now at this time, we’d like to bring in our first trainer, Steve Asmussen, the trainer here for Gun Runner.  Steve has won five Breeders’ Cup races, including the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic with Curlin.  Steve, good day and welcome.

 

Steve Asmussen:

Thank you.

 

Jim Gluckson:

Steve, we had – yesterday Gun Runner had a six-furlong move up at Santa Anita.  Are you pleased with the work.  Talk about his development since the – all the way back from the Woodward here and your preparation for the classic down here at Del Mar.

 

Steve Asmussen:

Well, preparations went extremely smoothly for him.  The weather has cooperated and very pleased with his work Monday morning.  He came out of it in good order.  And just very excited for the week and a half, ten days to come.

 

Jim Gluckson:

What are the plans as far as coming to Del Mar for perhaps a breeze before the classic?

 

Steve Asmussen:

We will train at Santa Anita on Wednesday and Thursday, ship to Del Mar early Friday and most likely we’ll have a breeze at Del Mar Monday morning.

 

Jim Gluckson:

Very good, very good.  Well, Steve, we have a lot of media on the line here that want to talk to you.  So, let’s turn it over now for questions from the press.

Danny Brewer:

Jim mentioned something about the Woodward – how about if we go back a little bit further with the Foster and then the Whitney?  Three jaw-droppers for this course.  I mean, have you been – has it been surprising for you or, I mean, does he amaze you every time out?  Or just what’s your thoughts on that?

Steve Asmussen:

Well, off of his Clark win last year, we had a little bit of a freshening, went to New Orleans for the winter.  His works early this year indicated we were dealing with a lot more horse than we were the year before, just stronger and faster.  His recovery from everything was a little quicker.  And I felt that from the Razorback on, he has trained like a machine.  And I thought his work Monday at Santa Anita was more of the same and we’re very excited about who he’s developed into.

Danny Brewer:

Just to shift gears, I want to talk about another one of your horses, Snapper Sinclair.  He won at Kentucky Downs.  Is he likely to run in the Juvenile Turf?  And what’s your thoughts on him and the relationship with Jeff Bloom and all that good stuff?

Steve Asmussen:

Well, he’s a very talented horse – two for two on the turf.  And he has continued to develop, multiple entries in the Juvenile Turf, so see if we’re lucky enough to run.

Tom Pedulla:

Yeah, Steve, I think it was after the Whitney you – we had asked you about who should be ranked first, Arrogate or Gun Runner.  And I believe your opinion at the time was you still had proving to do.  Do you still feel that way that, you know, Arrogate’s the horse until you knock him off?

Steve Asmussen:

Well, I know whose side I’m on and I feel very good about where we’re at right now.  What has happened since the World Cup is, you know, surprising to a lot of people.  We’re just trying to get to the Classic in the best shape possible and show at the stakes to prove where Gun Runner is at.

 

Ron Flatter:

Steve, since you’ve established what side you’re on in the debate over Gun Runner versus Arrogate, could you go ahead and make the case for your horse?  He’s not won at a mile and a quarter and he hasn’t raced at Del Mar.  So what gives you confidence that he’ll be able to check both those boxes?

Steve Asmussen:

Just the way that he’s run all year and the way that he has trained.  He [inaudible] and I feel that he’s at a very high level in the way that he’s running, as fast as he’s running.  As far as Del Mar and never running over the racetrack, he has accepted quite a few racetracks.  He has traveled well and, you know, nothing but respect for a deep and quality field in this year’s classic.  And it will be extremely exciting.  But with horseracing, this gives us an opportunity to try to get it done.

Ron Flatter:

And he came back from Dubai very well; it reminds me a bit of Curlin in that respect.  What’s the magic formula or the secret to getting a horse back from Dubai and being able to run well here?

 

Steve Asmussen:

Well, I think we went over there with a lot of horse.  He is very healthy minded, been wonderful physically and I think that just pedigree wise, who he is physically, he’s just a stronger, better horse at four than he was at three.

 

Tom Jicha:

I know this isn’t a relay race or anything but you’re going to be in against four or five Bafferts.  Does that concern you at all?

 

Steve Asmussen:

It does, it really does, you know?  You’re just – hopefully they’re all out there trying to win.

 

Tom Jicha:

And will that affect any strategy – or what is your strategy for the race?  Are you just going to let it play as it lays?

Steve Asmussen:

I will – I imagine I’ll suggest to Florent to watch the Shared Belief’s Awesome Again a couple of times.

 

Jim Gluckson:

Steve, this is Jim Gluckson again.  I did want to follow up.  You mentioned Florent a second ago.  Can you just talk to us about how well he has fit the horse this year?

 

Steve Asmussen:

Well, I think Florent deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the horse that Gun Runner has developed into.  Florent’s a quality horseman as well as jockey.  He’s related with the horse extremely well, communicated to us what he was feeling, what he was thinking.  And I think we’ve been on the same page with this horse most likely since, you know, going into the Clark of last year, just what the horse needed when.  And I think that we’ve all been rewarded in a big way by how Gun Runner – who he’s developed into but Florent gets, you know, a lot of credit for it.

 

Jim Gluckson:

All right.  So thank you very much.  Steve, we appreciate the time that you took today to join us, and best of luck to you when you come down here with your horses and have a great day.

 

Steve Asmussen:

Thank you very much.

 

Jim Gluckson:

Excellent.  We’re now set to bring in Chad Brown.  Chad has, in his career, has won eight Breeders’ Cup races.  He has pre-entered 13 horses – that’s just one less than Aidan O’Brien who’s pre-entered 14 – and he joins us today.  Chad, Jim Gluckson here in Del Mar.  Welcome.

 

Chad Brown:

Thank you.  Thanks for having me.

 

Jim Gluckson:

Great.  This has been a tremendous story among all your horses but of course, we’re all very interested in Lady Eli and her great career.  She’s not raced since August, but can you comment on her progress moving towards this year’s Filly & Mare Turf?

 

Chad Brown:

Well, she’s training super, better than ever and I think the time’s helped her in between starts.  She seems to run well fresh.  So she’s very reliable that way.  She’s a good training horse so we feel confident the way we’re bringing her into the race.

 

Jim Gluckson:

Excellent.  Can you comment regarding horses for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf?

 

Chad Brown:

My horses have both done really well, Beach Patrol and Fanciful Angel.  They came out of the Joe Hirsch in good shape.  They seem to be training really, really well.  They’ve had two breezes since the race and both have been impressive.  I think they’ll both appreciate firm ground and they look like they’ll both be good at the distance.  Beach Patrol has now proven and Fanciful Angel was coming out nicely in mile and a half so I don’t think it’ll be a problem for him.  And, you know, I realize it’s going to be the toughest race they’ve ever run in.  But both seem to be real high quality horses.

 

Amy Owens:

Chad, you’ve left Rushing Fall at Keeneland.  What was your plan on – of that?

 

Chad Brown:

Well, Rushing Fall ran so well at Keeneland with just a short turnaround into the Breeders’ Cup.  I didn’t want to put too many long ships into her.  So we left her at Keeneland with one of my assistants and she’s been doing super.  She’ll have her only breeze in between the Jessamine and the Breeders’ Cup within the next couple days, and then she’ll fly out to Del Mar.

 

Art Wilson:

Yeah, Chad.  Can you just touch on the remarkable story of Lady Eli, what she’s meant to you, your barn and the whole sport overall?

 

Chad Brown:

Lady Eli is a very special horse to me and my entire staff and her owners for all she’s overcome, for her incredible talent that she has and so many places she’s brought us together.  So we’re very fond of her obviously.  And I think for the sport, I think it’s been a great story on many fronts about what horses can overcome, about making a lot of people more aware about what laminitis is and the possible treatments now with advanced technology.  And, you know, just really the will to win, I think.  You know, when you come across very rare horses not too often in your life, I know this one has been – I find to be very rare of any of the horses I’ve ever worked around.  I’ve never seen one up close with this much heart and determination.  And I just hope everyone has the opportunity to be close to a horse like this sometime in their lives.

 

Art Wilson:

When she came down with that – the life-threatening situation there, could you have ever dreamed two years ago to be with her now where you are two years later?

 

Chad Brown:

No, no.  And I don’t feel any experts would have given us any sort of positive feeling that this is going to be possible.  So, you know, we just count our blessings every day and we try to look after her the best we can.  And it’s just an amazing story what she’s overcome and where she is now.

 

Danny Brewer:

Winning is cool no matter where it’s at, but when a guy like you that’s based on the East Coast goes West for something like the Breeders’ Cup and can win, is that a little more – does that carry a little more oomph because it’s almost like a road win?  Or do you think about stuff like that?

 

Chad Brown:

I don’t really think of it that way but it’s a good question.  I’d say for me individually, I mean, first of all, I’ve never been to Del Mar.  So this would be a first for me.  In years past, we’ve had a lot of success at Santa Anita.

 

Yeah, and we’ve had a lot of success at Santa Anita.  And for me, even though I’m based in New York and I’m born and raised in New York, it always carried – it carried a special something with me on a personal level because I worked out at Santa Anita for quite a time for Bobby Frankel out in Hollywood and Santa Anita.  And I don’t get to go out there too often anymore, unless it’s for the Breeders’ Cup really.  And I used to really – you know, in years past, I really love and enjoy going back and walking around the Breeders’ Cup week, seeing people I haven’t seen in awhile and kind of reminiscing about the times I was back there working with Bobby.  And then to have some success on top of it was a very rewarding ride home and it made me want to really go back again.  Del Mar will be a little different for me.  I’m sure I’ll see a lot of the same faces and such but me not having been there, I’m excited to see it for the first time.

 

Danny Brewer:

To shift gears a little bit, Beach Patrol, he’s been pretty dang good here lately, Arlington Million and then the Joe Hirsch.  What about him and his development under your care?

 

Chad Brown:

Yeah.  He’s been a real pleasant – I guess, surprise might not be the right word to use.  I’ve never been surprised about this horse’s ability.  He has a lot of heart, not a big horse.  Everything we ask him to do, he always does.  I’m not surprised that we gave him another challenge and he’s been successful at it.  But nevertheless, it’s hard to envision he’s another horse, that beginning of the year we’d be here right now going into the Breeders’ Cup in a mile and a half race where he’d be one of the main choices in the race.  And so I’ve just been so thankful for his development.  I’m really proud of this horse.  I think the horse deserves it.  He’s a real hard trying horse.  He’s an overachiever and I’m just hoping to get a good trip in the race.  And I know it’ll be a really tough race, a lot of international horses that are top, top class but he’s one of them.

 

Ron Flatter:

Chad, Aidan’s group in the Filly & Mare Turf will not include Hydrangea.  He’s just got Rhododendron I guess of the ones that came out of France last month or this past month.  How do you regard that move by him or non-move when you look at how Lady Eli fits in, especially since, I guess, I suppose Bolt might be close to the pace?

 

Chad Brown:

Yeah.  I haven’t really had a chance to look at it yet.  You know, obviously I respect whatever he chooses to run, a lot of respect for him and his accomplishments and the outstanding year he’s having.  But I don’t really focus too much on the competition on days like this until, you know, maybe, you know, right up to the final entries are drawn with post positions and such.  I just – I’ve always just taken the approach of just focusing on what I have and trying to bring him in the race – pick the races that I think will fit him and kind of just see who shows up and go from there.  So, you know, whatever he’s doing, I’m sure there’s a good reason behind it and we’re just going to have to play the hand we’re dealt.

 

My biggest cause for concern right now is just that post position draw.  I just want to hopefully obtain as many good post positions for my horses as possible.  Knowing that we’re racing these many horses those days, we’re bound to get some unfortunate post positions.  We’re prepared for that but – and this race in particular, I think, is going to be very important, the post position draw.

 

Ron Flatter:

Is Lady Eli your best chance to win among your 13?  Or if not her, who else do you think are among your best chances?

 

Chad Brown:

Well, I think when you look down the line, she’s probably one of the, you know, be the most favored I’d say of any of horses I have.  Whether that comes down to again, the post and the trip and whatnot, I know that she’s very reliable and I expect her to run well if she get a good post and a clean trip.  And I think she’s got a huge chance to win.  There are several others I think if things go their way, you know, they could potentially win.

 

Tom Pedulla:

Could you talk about the emotions attached to Lady Eli’s final start for you and your staff?

 

Chad Brown:

Well, it will take quite a bit of time to get over that.  And, you know, although I’m optimistic more, you know, grade one fillies will come in the barn, unlikely to be one like her I’d say.  I just understand how rare they are, having worked around a bunch of good ones myself.  So it’ll be tough but, you know, we’re prepared for it.  And, you know, one thing you know training these horses is, you know, their careers are normally not that long and they’re going to come and they’re going to go.  And you should be aware of that when you sign up for a job like this.  So, this is a special situation though and like I said, things will never quite be the same.  But hopefully when the time comes for her to go on to her second career, she lives out a long life and plan on visiting her quite a bit wherever she is.

 

Tad Leonard:

Going back to Lady Eli again, was there a day there when she was suffering laminitis that you didn’t think she’d get through a day?

 

Chad Brown:

There were.

 

Tad Leonard:

When she got ill?

 

Chad Brown:

Yeah, she was, yeah.  There’s a – you know, when a horse is stricken with this illness, there’s – you know, it’s such a crucial time the first, you know, two, three days of it really.  And during that time, we just weren’t sure.  We know the percentages and we weren’t at all thinking about her racing again at that point.  And even months down the road, we weren’t thinking that way.  Just trying to get her to survive and have a really long life of being a broodmare.  And even if we couldn’t breed out of her, just her having a really healthy pain-free life and – but yes, there were some – those first couple days, even the first week, you just – you’re really never out of the woods with this until you’re very, very far down the road.  And we always had our guard up and were prepared to come in one morning and she had taken a turn for the worse but thankfully it never happened.

 

Remarkable thing about her in this disease is she always improved every single day.  And even if it was subtle, she never took a step backwards and I’ve had horses with it, unfortunately other horses.  And there were ups and downs and some unfortunately crashed fast and some it took a while.  But with her, she just never looked back.  She kept fighting and kept improving.

 

Tad Leonard:

You talked about the medical technology.  What was the key as far as her recovery medication-wise or what was the gist of why she came back [inaudible]?

 

Chad Brown:

 

The team of people that we assembled – yeah, the team of people we assembled led by a podiatrist, Bryan Fraley from Kentucky, really saved her life.  There was another guy, a podiatrist named Bob Agne unfortunately passed away shortly after Lady Eli was on her way to recovery suddenly and unexpectedly.  But those two guys worked together.  Bryan took over and has really been the quarterback of this team.  And just, you know, all the techniques he used and applied to shoeing and gradually changing what she was doing in baby steps and moving forward and trying to graduate her into different types of shoes and reduce medication and such.  And all those things are learned by the expert team of veterinarians and podiatrists that through trial and error and studies and everything we can do to learn more about the disease.  And, you know, if this had happened ten years ago, I’m positive there’s no way she could have made it.

 

Tad Leonard:

And then just one more question for you, you spoke about not being at Del Mar but you obviously have a lot of experience at Santa Anita.  Is the whole East Coast/West Coast thing for the Breeders’ Cup in particular a little overrated?  How do you feel about – because I don’t have the stats in front of me but I think East Coast trainers and horses have done pretty well in the West Coast Breeders’ Cups.  Do you feel like it’s not a big disadvantage?  What do you think?

 

Chad Brown:

I think – I feel like that any time you don’t have to ship to run, you’re at an advantage.  That said, when you look at the results, the results wouldn’t bear that, I don’t think.  So, I personally have no problem with the Breeders’ Cups the year they’re on the West Coast – the years on the West Coast, because we’ve always done well in them, win or lose.  So, in the end of the day, it hasn’t – result-wise, it hasn’t put us at a disadvantage.  But it’d be hard to say that not having to ship anywhere, especially that far, wasn’t a disadvantage – or, you know, was an advantage for you to be able to just stay home.  So, I guess that’s the way I’d answer it.

 

Tad Leonard:

So, can I ask you, what – have you found some keys to East-to-West shipping that you feel like has been helpful through the years [inaudible]?

 

Chad Brown:

Not really.  Yeah, it’s a really good question.  My mentor, Bobby, he was big on just shipping the week of the race.  I don’t do too much shipping for big races; want to get there early and breeze over the track and whatever.  Derby time around Churchill, we have some now – just thinking maybe that track is a little unique.  But other than that, that’d be the only thing.  There’s nothing about the way we prepare to ship or what we do that would be any sort of, you know, special system.  But it’s just, you know, I like training in our home base.  And our home base is Belmont Park [inaudible].  And to me, the most important part of this whole process is those workouts that they’re executed exactly the way we want.  And that’s the biggest thing for me.

 

Tad Leonard:

Have you heard much about Del Mar’s summer meet and kind of trainers, you know, that the track was altered a little bit?  What’s your take on what you’re hearing about Del Mar?

 

Chad Brown:

I haven’t heard too much.  You know, obviously, there are some – this summer, I guess, you know, anywhere you go as a horse trainer, you’re going to find half the people like the track and half of them have an issue with it, I find no matter where I’m going – where I train, where other people train.  And so, I don’t listen too much.  I mean, the guys that are winning like the track and some people that aren’t, they said there’s something wrong with the track.  So that’s always been kind of my feeling about racetracks.  And I don’t know anything about it.

 

I know that I ran some horses there for the first time last December for the turf festival and my horses ran very well.  They all ran on the turf but they did really well.  So, I’m expecting my horses to go over there and barring any bad posts or trips, they’re supposed to go over there and run with no excuse, you know?  If they’re good enough, they’ll get there.

 

John Pricci:

Good afternoon, Chad.  I was wondering, you have had all that experience at Santa Anita and none really at Del Mar except for the times you shipped in on occasion.  Now, Dennis Moore, the track superintendent said he expects the track to be the same this fall as it was this summer.  I don’t know if you had any experience at Del Mar this summer.  But when you were with Bobby at Santa Anita, you know, they had the winter, spring and then the Oak Tree meet.  What I’d like to know is we know at Churchill Downs for instance that the track is notably different from the spring to the fall meet.  At Santa Anita, were they – did they experience that sort of – not radical change but a pronounced change from the fall as opposed to the spring or late winter?

 

Chad Brown:

I wouldn’t know.  I just wouldn’t be the right person to ask about that, unfortunately. I really only go out West pretty much, you know, just for Breeders’ Cup week.  Don’t train much, you know, gallop a little bit, school and run.  And you know –

John Pricci:

Right, well, I was really referring more of the time when you were with Bobby and did you notice, you know, that the horses or the track acted a little differently in the fall at Santa Anita as opposed to the, you know, winter and spring.

 

Chad Brown:

I see.  I was only there in the winters and then during the center of the year.  You know, even on to the fall, I’d be on the West Coast or I’d be at Keeneland.  I only went back in the winters with him.  So again, unfortunately, I wouldn’t be the right person to ask about that.

 

Bryce Miller:

Maybe a question that’s a half a step off topic, related to the Breeders’ Cups in detail in terms of the races, but how important from an East Coast perspective – there are the hotbeds of horseracing nationally in New York, Florida, Kentucky obviously and California.  How important is a healthy California to the rest of the system, to the rest of those states and the industry as a whole?

 

Chad Brown:

Well, I mean, I’d say it’d be vital.  I mean, I don’t race there.  Obviously, I’m an East Coast guy but I see the whole industry working together with different regions.  You know, when everyone is doing well, the whole industry seems to be doing well.  I’d say if California wasn’t doing well, I’m not sure what would happen.  I mean, I can’t imagine anything would be good out of that.  So, you know, when I do go over there and participate, there’s a lot of prestigious races in the West Coast.  And I just, you know, I’d say that, just from my vantage point, it’s – I don’t have a lot invested in California but I’d see it as, you know, one of the main tellers in the whole industry, as far as different regions working together.

 

Bryce Miller:

Is that something if you’re in the East Coast or if somebody in Florida hears that, you know, Hollywood Park closes or Santa Anita has some small fields or dropped some race days, what’s kind of the ripples across the pond in other parts of the country when you hear that about California?

 

Chad Brown:

When you hear what?

 

Bryce Miller:

When you hear that Hollywood, Park closed or you hear that Santa Anita has dropped some race days or has small fields or any of those things that sound like red flags in another state.  Like when you hear things like that about California, does that matter to you on the coast?  And what are your initial thoughts when you hear that?

 

Chad Brown:

Yeah, I mean, it’s concerning.  That, I’d say, wouldn’t be just strictly with them.  I’d say you hear that in other parts of the country as well.  They might not be as, you know, quite the level of racing maybe at Santa Anita.  But I see other race tracks that I participate on the East Coast that you hear rumblings about, you know, they weren’t able to make a card or they had to cut a couple races off cards or, you know, they’re struggling financially and such.  So anytime you hear that, it’s concerning, you know, not only at the A track, so to speak, but when you see the other tracks as well you hear about because we need everybody doing well, even if it’s in other region or level of racing.  I might not participate.  I am lucky but, you know, there’s still a lot of jobs on the line and horses that need to find their level and such.  So anytime I hear that even outside of California, it’s concerning to me.  I don’t know the solutions but, you know, I’m concerned about it.

 

Robert Kieckhefer:

You know, many of us look at these turf races and the Breeders’ Cup and try to figure out the relative merits of the European horses versus America horses.  And, you know, I look at horses like Fanciful Angel who was running at Chelmsford City in Sandown and then comes to Arlington and we watch him finish a good second, the Arlington Million and then second at the Joe Hirsch.  I’m just wondering, could you give us your thoughts about the relative merits of American horses versus the Europeans this year, looking at horses like Highland Reel and Ulysses against Beach Patrol and Fanciful Angel?

 

Chad Brown:

Well, I have a lot of respect for any of the European horses that ship over.  I mean, I don’t – I wouldn’t think that any connections would come all the way over unless they thought they, you know, had a really good shot and were eligible to get in the race.  So, any time you see European horses show up, especially the couple that you named are exceptional horses, so, you know, they’re scary to run against.  And – but you know, we – American horses in some of these turf races have fared very well.  And you got to pick your spots and hopefully you have an exceptional horse.  I think we have some we’re running on this card.  But, you know, if you want to compete internationally, like we are getting ready to do here in this Breeders’ Cup festival, you know, it’s – you should have a horse that’s says international class really.  And – because normally – because really good horses come from Europe.

 

Robert Kieckhefer:

If I could just follow up briefly with that then, could we have your thoughts on not necessarily this year but ever running a horse from the United States over to Japan or to Hong Kong?

 

Chad Brown:

I’ve never done that so, I just don’t have any experience doing it.  I wouldn’t know.  I mean, in recent years, I wouldn’t be able to tell you an American horse that’s done well doing that or I haven’t really followed it that much.  You know, maybe at some point in time, I’ll, you know, attempt something like that or something but right now, I just – I don’t feel I’d be the right person probably to provide any good information about that.

 

David Grening:

Just wanted to get your thoughts on taking a horse like Good Magic and shipping him cross-country to run against a very accomplished horse like Bolt d’Oro.  How big a task is that?

 

Chad Brown:

 

Well, it’s a tall order.  I mean, this horse has experience at Del Mar, Bolt d’Oro and, you know, bringing a horse who hasn’t broken his maiden yet.  But this horse has only run a couple times but is improving, Good Magic, and has a pedigree to improve with some more distance.  His numbers are improving.  I feel like he’s a horse that’s going to run even better in his third start than he did in the second.  And if that happens, the numbers I’m looking at, that could put him right there.  So, he’s got some things to overcome.  He’s a young horse.  He’s got to ship very far.  He’s got to race over a track he hasn’t been to.  He won’t even have a breeze over it.  So, you know, these are tall orders for a young horse but I’ve always felt this horse has exceptional talent and potential.  And I think the reward is much greater than the risk in this particular situation.

 

Mike Spector:

A quick question about Practical Joke.  You pre-entered as your first preference in the Dirt Mile and second preference in the Sprint.  Can you talk a little bit about that decision to make the first preference the Dirt Mile?

 

Chad Brown:

I just feel like six furlongs is probably going to be too short for this horse.  So, although he is undefeated around one turn and he’s never won around two turns, so it’s quite a dilemma for us with a two-turn mile race.  I really believe a mile is his best distance.  So, he’s going to have to win for the first time around two turns and – but I’d rather have more track to work with, I think, with this horse than two shorter races where he’s running late but doesn’t get there.  So that’s the way I’m leaning, but we haven’t made a final decision yet.

 

Marcus Hersh:

I’m just wondering what your plans are for Annals of Time?  I saw he wasn’t pre-entered in the mile.

 

Chad Brown:

Yeah, good question.  Unfortunately, Annals of Time, after a brilliant work out at Sunday on the Turf Course at Belmont, emerged with an injury.  We’re still doing some further diagnostics on this injury to figure out the ultimate prognosis for him.  So unfortunately, he’s going to be on the shelf for a little while.

 

Kellie Reilly:

Hi, I was just curious to get your thoughts on Grand Jete.  Do you think we’ve really seen the best of her yet over here and especially given her trips the last couple times, I mean, certainly also the trouble she got in the Beverly D.  And I’m not sure too many of us expected her to be leading early in the Flower Bowl.  So just wanted to get your thoughts on Grand Jete and how much scope she has to show more going –

 

Chad Brown:

Yeah.  I agree with you 100%.  These last two trips were not ideal for her and she’s a horse I hold in high regard.  I think she’s improved a ton from where she started the year.  And she’s training particularly well.  She has been unlucky and I think post position for her is key to maybe find some cover early, not too far away, and get her back to her more preferred way of running.  And I believe the mile and eighth distance should suit her just fine.

 

Jim Gluckson:

All right, Chad.  Thanks so much for taking the time today to speak with the media about your horses.  Good luck to you when you get out here and have a very good day.

 

Chad Brown:

 

Thank you.  Take care.  Thanks.

 

Jim Gluckson:

 

Thank you.  Chad Brown, everyone. Bob Baffert, who has pre-entered five horses for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  I just want to make mention about these five horses.  The record for starters in a Breeders’ Cup Classic is three each – Bobby Frankel in 1993 and Bill Mott in 2012 each had three starters in those years.  .  Bob has five horses pre-entered for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  He is shooting for his fourth consecutive Breeders’ Cup Classic.  Bob, welcome.

 

Bob Baffert:

Thanks for having me.

 

Jim Gluckson:

Bob, just quickly, if you could just give us a brief rundown on each of your five pre-entered horses in the classic and how they’re doing.

 

Bob Baffert:

Well, they’re all doing well, otherwise wouldn’t have been pre-entered.  We’re still a couple weeks out.   – they’re doing well, really don’t have a whole lot to say.  I mean, everybody – you know, now that we have the XBTV, everybody you can see their work and everything.  So, there’s really not much I can really say but they’re all doing well.

 

Jim Gluckson:

Yesterday, you were quoted as saying this is one of the toughest classics that you’ve been a part of in several years.  Can you talk about the quality of the competition?

 

Bob Baffert:

What I meant by that it is a pretty deep field, you know?  Beside my four, you’ve got, you know, you’ve got Gun Runner, Arrogate, then my other three horses, you got West Coast, you know, you got Collected who is undefeated this year.  I mean, West Coast probably just missed by a head.  He should be like eight in a row. So, it’s really – it’s going to be – there are some good horses in there.

 

Danny Brewer:

I know that you’ve got a murderer’s row lineup heading into this Breeders’ Cup.  Are you having more fun than a pig in slop right now?

 

 

Bob Baffert:

You need racing luck, good post, break well.  Your jockey has got to be on that day.  There’s so much involved and, you know, and you’re just – right now, I’m just getting them all ready.  I’m hoping that they have – to make sure that when these jockeys are on them, when they ask them and they push the button, the button doesn’t get stopped, you know, they have their horse there.  So that’s what we’re doing right now is just – you know, I’m just preparing them for that – for that big, big day.

 

Art Wilson:

Bob, you’ve had a lot of success at the Breeders’ Cup and this year, you’ve pre-entered the most you’ve ever pre-entered, ten.  Can you just touch on how you feel about this year’s group?  How it stacks up against some of the other top groups you’ve brought to the Breeders’ Cup?

 

Bob Baffert:

Well, I mean, I just feel fortunate that I have had many nice horses. It just happens the way that the chips fall sometimes.  You have these older horses.  I’ve never had so many older horses before.  And so, you know, we got Drefong, the sprinter.  So, he’s coming back.  I’ve been fortunate to have a couple horses, you know, come back in this Breeders’ Cup.  But I think it’s just all – you know, our barn has always been setup to, you know, for the – to play at this level so we’re just fortunate that they’re all healthy and they’re doing well.  And so – and I have the clientele that, you know, work with it, you know, to make this happen.  So, you know, without them, we just can’t make it happen.  So, I give all the credit to the clientele base that I have.

 

Art Wilson:

Right.  And going up against Bolt d’Oro in the juvenile with Solomini, you know, you have a tall order there.  What has been your early impressions of Bolt d’Oro, Bob?

 

Bob Baffert:

I think he’s definitely the horse to beat.  I’m very impressed with all his races. I’ve been watching here in the mornings.  He looks fantastic.  So, you know, we’re doing well.  There’s a big gap there we need to close, and there are some nice horses in there.  I think Dale Romans’ horses, they look great out here.  So, you know, the juvenile colt race you got to get lucky but the cream always rises to the top in these big races, just like last year.

 

Bryce Miller:

Hey, Bob.  Just with the classic getting closer – I know we talked earlier – but Jim had mentioned that the record for entries in the classic was three and you’ve got five at this point.  What – as it does get closer, what’s it like to try to juggle and manage and prepare that many horses for that level of a race?

 

Bob Baffert

Right now, it looks like I’m going to run four in there.  But I – it’s not a – we’re used to running more than one or, you know, two horses in a race.  It just happens to fall that way.  But there’s really no juggling.  We just get them ready and we’d load them up and whoever, you know, may the best horse win.  My clients, they’re used to running or have multiple entries or whatever.  There’s no juggling really.

 

A lot of people have asked me, well, how do you handle all the owners?  Well, the owners, they’re just happy to have a horse at that level.  Like we saw what Collected did, you know?  He came up and, you know, he beat Arrogate. All you do is get them ready and hope that they run their best race of their life because they have to bring their A game.  And my job is to prepare them, get them ready and after that,– we’ll just see what happens.

 

John Pricci:

Good afternoon, Bob.  This was something I had asked of Chad and I’d like to ask you since you have more experience with Del Mar.  Now, I know the track this year is different than the track was last year.  So, if you would, can you talk a little bit about how the Del Mar of summer was perhaps different than the Del Mar of fall last year?  And since Mr. Morris said that the track when it opens for the Breeders’ Cup meet will be similar or the same as it was this summer.  Is that good news and bad news for Arrogate?

 

Bob Baffert:

I just don’t know.  We don’t know, I know they’ve made some changes.  I know for the Breeders’ Cup, they’ve put a whole new surface in there at the beginning and at the end.  I think after the Pacific Classic, I noticed it started changing, like it started setting up.  I think it just wasn’t setup for the early part of the meet.  It was just – it was really deep and like there was not really a bottom.  It just went in deep.

 

I’m not going to use that as an excuse for Arrogate.  I think he’ll handle this fine.  I mean, Pacific Class, he actually ran a pretty good race there, you know?  But I’m not going to use that as an excuse.  I think he just wasn’t bringing it and I think now, he looks great.  Collected, he really liked it but I think Collected, he did win by 16 lengths that one time before here at Santa Anita. He’s a really good horse. They’re just good horses.

 

There are some tough horses in there and they’ve worked well over it. They’ve never run over it.  So, it can be a tricky track though.  Del Mar can be – I’ve seen horses moved up running at Del Mar and others they don’t run well.  But I’ve – a lot of the good horses, they’ve all run well over it so I’m not even thinking about that.  I’m not even thinking about the track surface right now.

 

John Pricci:

Okay, so then last West – at the summer meet, you said as the meeting progressed, the track got tighter.  You would then maybe expect that the track would, you know, sort of open that way, rather than get tighter as the meeting progresses since there’s not a lot of racing days between the meet opening and Breeders’ Cup day.  So are you anticipating or are you hoping for a tighter surface for Arrogate [inaudible].

 

Bob Baffert:

Dennis Moore, he’s a good track man. He wants a good safe track and at the same time, consistent.  So, I think it’ll be fine.

 

Frank Angst:

For the second year in a row, Drefong is entering the sprint off a long layoff, training up very nicely, it looks like.  What are some of the reasons that that is a good approach for that horse?

 

Bob Baffert:

After wintertime, I just gave him that break because these sprinters, it’s tough on them through the whole year.  But he’s always done better,  We had a lot of rain.  I just really couldn’t train him like I wanted to and so I freshened him up.  I could tell, he just wasn’t really responding to training.  So, we just backed off on him and brought him back.  And, you know, the whole thing was to run him in the Bing Crosby and then come back and run him in the Sprint Championship here and then run him in the Breeders’ Cup.

 

But when he unfortunately made that left-hand turn into the gap, that sort of threw the plans.  But you know, sometimes they don’t work out.  Since then I could have probably run him here but I just thought, well, I’ll just run him fresh.  You know, he went in fresh.  He did it last year.  I mean, he looks good, like he’s training well.  He’s happy so that’s all you can ask for right now.

 

Larry Stumes:

Before you won three straight classics, you had been like O for 24 in races at a mile or longer with horses older than two.  Did you change anything?  Have you changed any – your approach going into the classics or – the classic, or is it just a matter of you have the horse – you had the horse the last three years?

 

Bob Baffert:

I think other than Silver Charm, he was the horse – he ran second.  It was a really – that was a really tough Classic and he sort of went out and followed Swain.  It was a weird – you know, I thought we could have won that one.  But the other years, I wasn’t really armed like I was – those were good horses.  Bayern was coming off a big win.  He just won the Parx Derby in track-record time beating California Chrome, came back, you know, ran well again.  I haven’t won it with a slow horse.  I win it with really good horses so.

 

But I think through the years, just experience dealing with everything, I think I’ve gotten a little better at it.  And so, years ago, after the Gulfstream Breeders’ Cup, to me, it was a disaster for me.  I sort of, rethink the way I prepare them.  Sometimes you got to have something left for the fall but I think I’ve become a better manager.  The older you get, you just get better at it, I guess.  I don’t know.  But I did win it with some really good horses. American Pharaoh, you don’t get them better than that.  Arrogate last year, you know, we ran the Travers, came back – you know, they’re great horses so.  But a lot of it is the horses, you know, got me there.

 

And they could go a mile and a quarter.  The mile and a quarter is the big – the other ones, they really didn’t want a mile and a quarter.

 

 

Ron Flatter:

Bob, looking at the sprint with Drefong and the – and also, I guess the Dirt Mile with Mor Spirit, do you regard them as better chances to win their races than maybe Arrogate in the classic?

 

Bob Baffert:

Well, I don’t.  I think, you just need luck.  I mean, I’m not a handicapper, I think Mor Spirit, he hasn’t run since the Met Mile event.  Iif he runs that race back, you know, it’s pretty incredible.  You know, he’s going to be hard to get beat but – after he ran that big race, it sort of took a lot out of him.  It’s taken him a long time to come around.  So, I would love to put a prep race into him but I didn’t get a chance to. He’s never run at Del Mar.  This summer, I worked him there a few times.  He struggled with that track earlier but now, he’s doing much better.  He’s doing well.  But he’s coming off a layoff that long, he’s got his work cut out for him.

 

Ron Flatter:

And the fact that horses haven’t – weren’t able to get on the track until this week at Del Mar, how much of an inconvenience was that?

 

Bob Baffert:

Well, I mean, it would have been nice to be out there if they could have opened it three weeks before or whatever.  But I don’t make those calls.  As a horseman, we just have to deal with what we have.  So, I’m just treating it like I’m just shipping in.  Instead of getting on a plane, I’m getting on a van. So that’s all you can do.  The track, it will be fine.

 

Tad Leonard:

I wanted to ask you about East Coast/West Coast.  Do you ever feel like you’re at a disadvantage at all when you’ve got to ship to the East?  And in the Breeders’ Cups that you’ve been in, do you feel like the West Coast Breeders’ Cups have been much of an advantage for West Coast trainers and horses?

 

Bob Baffert:

I don’t really think so.  I think the caliber of horse.  I’ve never really thought of it that way.  I’ve never felt, we’ve shipped and won right off the plane, Saratoga.  They’ve come here.  They’ve won.  You know, you have to – you need a good horse but you have to run this race.  So, it’s just at the end of the day, with all the information you get now,  you used to just go with the Beyer figures.  Now, there are sheets and there’s all – there are so many different information that you can get now.  It gives trainers an idea of where you stand.  I mean, you go in knowing like I have no chance in here so why even, you know?

 

So, but on paper, like if I’m Solomini in the juvenile, it looks like we really, really step it up, you know?   These Breeders’ Cup races, you’ve got traffic, you’ve got to break well,  you’re hoping maybe to get lucky and your horse is moving forward maybe, you know?  But those other races like the Classics and the Sprints, those are pretty cut and dried.  You see who the good horses are.  There’s always like five top horses.

 

Tad Leonard:

And just to follow up, you know, like almost I think over half the races were over-prescribed or oversubscribed.  Is that a reflection of where the Breeders’ Cup is right now?  And, you know, there’s so much talk about the lack of horses in pool sometimes but is that a good indication for the industry that so many of these races are so popular?

 

Bob Baffert:

Well, the Breeders’ Cup races are very exciting.  It’s an exciting two days.  The atmosphere is great.  And especially when you have it in the West Coast, you know you’re going to be guaranteed good weather.  And that’s so important.  When you go somewhere else and it’s rainy and sloppy and cold, it sort of – it takes it out of it so.

 

You know, there’s nothing like the Breeders’ Cup in the West Coast.  You know, they’re going to come, the Europeans, they come, everybody.  So, it’s exciting.  You see the best horses, the best jockeys, the best trainers.  They come from everywhere.

 

So, I think you see a lot of excitement.  The horses are bringing in more money.  Races like the Pegasus,, big races like that are getting people involved.  I think it’s very important we have these big money races because that’s what gets people involved in racing.  Like seeing those big purses – it’s great.  It’s better – the bigger the pots, the better the racing.

 

Jim Gluckson:

Bob, thanks so much for joining us today.  And good luck to all your horses when you get down here at Del Mar.  Thanks very much.

Bob Baffert:

Thank you.

Jim Gluckson:

Bob Baffert, everyone.  Thank you to our guests today, Bob Baffert, Chad Brown and Steve Asmussen for joining us, for coming to Del Mar.  We look forward to seeing you.

2017-10-26T16:12:55+00:00 October 26th, 2017|Categories: News & Media, Teleconferences|Tags: , , , , |
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