NTRA Communications National Media Teleconference for March 31

Guests:

Trainer Todd Pletcher

Trainer Bob Baffert

Trainer John Terranova

Jim Mulvihill:                        Welcome, everyone, to this week’s national media teleconference.  We’re here every Tuesday during this span of final Kentucky Derby preps, bringing you the opportunity to hear from the key players on the Triple Crown Trail.  Today we’re thrilled to have the key players so far this spring.  The three trainers we’re about to talk to today account for five of the top 10 horses in the current Road to the Kentucky Derby standings, and could conceivably be responsible for half the horses in the gate come May 2nd.

Now before we get to them, a quick reminder on this weekend’s broadcast schedule.  Saturday’s three Derby preps will be on national television.  The NBC Sports Network will have the Blue Grass, the Wood and the Santa Anita Derby as part of their two hour “Road to the Kentucky Derby” show from 5 to 7 Eastern.  That broadcast will also include a replay of the Ashland, which we know is the major Oaks prep at Keeneland.  TVG, of course, also has live coverage of those races, as does the Horse Racing Radio Network available on Sirius XM and HRRN affiliates, or online at horseracingradio.net.

Now because we have so much to cover today we’re going to get right to our guests.  Later in this call we’ll hear from Bob Baffert and John Terranova, but first we want to welcome in the seven time Eclipse Award winner as the Nation’s Outstanding Trainer, that’s Todd Pletcher.  Todd, as you know, won his first Derby in 2010 with Super Saver.  This year he holds one of the more impressive hands ever seen this close to the race.  Saturday he starts Tampa Bay Derby winner Carpe Diem in the Blue Grass, and 2014 Champagne winner Daredevil in the Wood.  Last Saturday he ran first and fourth in the Florida Derby with Materiality and Itsaknockout, and second in the Louisiana Derby with Stanford.  Then next weekend it looks like Rebel runner-up Madefromlucky will be running in the Arkansas Derby.  So we’ve got a lot to cover.

Todd Pletcher, you’re on with Jim Mulvihill in Lexington.  Thanks for joining us.

Todd Pletcher:                     Thank you, Jim.

Jim Mulvihill:                        Todd, first I just want to say how sorry I was to read the news this morning that Far From Over suffered a condylar fracture and is out of the Wood and off the Derby Trail.  I’m just wondering before we get to the horses that are running this weekend, could you just share with us your thoughts on that development.

Todd Pletcher:                     Well, it’s very disappointing to say the least, but, you know, it’s a very minor fracture.  In fact, the horse was only slightly off.  He’s walking very comfortably.  It was only noticeable at the trot.  We did some x-rays in-house trying to determine what it was.  Couldn’t come up with a full diagnosis doing that so yesterday afternoon we sent him over  yesterday morning, I should say, to Palm Beach Equine for a nuclear scintigraphy which kind of isolated the area where it was, and we found a hairline fracture.  So I don’t want anyone to be concerned that he’s limping around on one leg.  He’s totally comfortable, and it’s a very minor injury and I think his prognosis is very, very good to come back 100%, and just mainly disappointed for the connections.  Everyone was very excited about the way the horse was training, and the Wood at a mile and an eighth seemed like the perfect spot for him, so while we’re disappointed, we’re looking forward to hopefully a fall campaign and a four-year-old campaign with a well-bred horse that’s a May foal that should only improve with time.  So we’ll try to focus on the light at the end of the rainbow.

Jim Mulvihill:                        Right.  Very good.  Well, thank you for that update and we’ll look forward to more from Far From Over in the future.

Now related to that, maybe we can talk about just how difficult it is to get a good horse to the Derby.  I do think it’s worth noting that both of your Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runners are still in position to make the Derby, and most of these horses that we’re talking about ran as two-year-olds except for Materiality.  So what can you tell us after 15 years of doing this about getting a horse from the summer or fall if its two-year-old season all the way to the Kentucky Derby?

Todd Pletcher:                     Well, I think it’s certainly a challenge, and I think it’s well documented that it’s a demanding trail leading to the Kentucky Derby.  I suppose it’s demanding in, you know, in all aspects of the sport, but as trainers, I think we all understand that there’s no way to completely prevent injuries.  What we hope to do is to minimize them.  You know, I think in this particular case we detected something that was pretty minor that had it been missed could’ve turned into something major, so from that standpoint, that’s really what you hope you can do.  But there’s no question, you know, you’re going to see horses on the Trail that are going to be unable to make it for a variety of different reasons, and that’s certainly what makes it so difficult to not only get there, but so difficult to—because you have go through some very demanding prep races in order to get there and then continue to improve as you step into the really big one.  So we’re fortunate that we’ve got some horses that came out of last weekend’s races well and coming into this weekend also in good form, so we’ll hope they remain in that type of form.

Jim Mulvihill:                        Indeed.  Well, just to make sure we’re touching all the right bases here, you have six horses to run in the next two weekends that have Derby points, but then it occurred to me that this time last year a lot of people weren’t even talking about Danza.  So are the six that have Derby points right now, are those the only ones we’re going to see in the races this weekend and then next weekend and at Oaklawn and Keeneland?

Todd Pletcher:                     Yes, that’s correct.  I don’t see anyone jumping into any of these late races just yet.  But, yes, we’ll focus on those for the moment.  Danza was a horse that sort of we weren’t planning last year to run in the Arkansas Derby until only a week or so before, so I won’t say 100%, but unlikely it’s at this stage we’d have anyone else jump into the mix.

Jim Mulvihill:                        Okay, well we want to touch on as many of them as we can, so I’ll start with Carpe Diem before we turn it over to the media.  Second in the Juvenile last year and then gets an extended break before an easy win the Tampa Bay Derby.  What does he need to get out of the Blue Grass after just one race that went perfectly as you would hope?

Todd Pletcher:                     Well, we just hope for a smooth run and another good performance.  You wouldn’t say he had to win in order to go on to the next one.  I think he’s certainly already stamped himself as one of the leaders of the division.  So the horse has trained remarkably well since the Tampa Derby and we’re excited about running him.  We just hope for another Carpe Diem-type performance and have him come out of the race healthy.

Jim Mulvihill:                        Excellent.  What have you had to work on with him these past few months?  I know he’s had a reluctance to load, but is that a serious concern down the road or is that just a minor thing that you live with?

Todd Pletcher:                     Well, I think it comes with the pedigree a little bit.  I mean part of what makes the Storm Cat line very good on the racetrack and very competitive and a fighting type mentality is that they can be a little hot-blooded at times, and I think he gets some of that personality from Giant’s Causeway in that line.  But the interesting thing is we’ve spent quite a bit time schooling him in the mornings and he goes to the gate often in the morning and seldom shows any reluctance to load whatsoever, so it’s sort of one of those things it’s a little bit difficult to correct because he won’t display the problem in the mornings.  Then I think from the excitement of the race, and a lot of these races that he’s running in are starting in front of the—two turn races starting in front of a big crowd and I think that excites him a little bit.  But, you know, it’s a manageable issue and I think the gate crews that know him know how to handle him, but so far it has not affected any of his performances even though he has displayed some of that behavior in the Breeders’ Futurity last year and Tampa Derby this year.  So but based on what we’ve seen in the mornings he’s been so good, I’m hoping that that’ll carry over to Saturday afternoon as well.

Jim Mulvihill:                        Excellent.  Well, we’ve got Todd Pletcher here talking about Carpe Diem and Daredevil and his other Derby prospects, so I’m going to turn it over to Nick and we’ll see what the media has for Mr. Pletcher.

Art Wilson:                           Good afternoon, Todd.  Hey, of all your Derby hopefuls, any in your mind that are maybe flying in under the radar and you think are maybe a little bit underrated with the horses that people are talking about?

Todd Pletcher:                     I can’t say that I would say that.  I think that, you know, they’ve all gotten a fair amount of attention, and, of course, Carpe Diem and Daredevil were Group 1 winners at two so they’ve sort of been on everyone’s radar screen for a little while.  You would’ve certainly said that Materiality was under the radar a bit until three and a half weeks ago when he won the Islamorada and sort of jumped into the mix in a big way when he was able to handle the mile and an eighth in only his second start.  So I don’t know that anyone’s really under the radar and certainly because of the two-year-old status of Carpe Diem and being a Breeders’ Futurity winner and second in the Breeders’ Cup he seems to have been the one that all along has been highest upon everyone’s radar screen.

Art Wilson:                           How about some of the other top three year olds in the country; Baffert’s duo of Dortmund and American Pharoah and some of the others you’ve seen back east?  What are your impressions of them, Todd?

Todd Pletcher:                     I think the West Coast group is very, very strong, and, you know, you couldn’t help but be very, very impressed by American Pharaoh, and, you know, he came back with a big race off the bench and seemed to run every bit as well as he’d been training.  He looks like a super horse.  Dortmund is also undefeated and was flattered by Firing Line’s win in the Sunland Derby, so, you know, I think those three horses look awfully strong for the West Coast.

Danny Brewer:                    The decision to run Carpe Diem at Keeneland, did the switching back to dirt, does that play any factor in that or was he going there because WinStar is so close, and that’s (inaudible)?

Todd Pletcher:                     No, actually I think the decision goes back to the Breeders’ Futurity actually, and there’s no question in my mind that that decision was made at that time because Keeneland had moved to a dirt surface.  I think had it been on a synthetic surface we’d have probably looked for a different option leading up to the Breeders’ Cup.  But once he ran so well in the Breeders’ Futurity, we’ve kind of always felt like that the Blue Grass would be a natural fit for his final prep, and, you know, he’s done nothing along the way to make us think any other way.

Danny Brewer:                    When you saw the Breeders’ Futurity, was it just like whoosh, because I mean that was a heck of a performance?  Did you know then that this horse was what you really thought he could be?

Todd Pletcher:                     Well, you know, we knew the horse from the OBS March sale where WinStar and Stonestreet purchased him, and he would’ve been a high round—high first round draft choice at that point.  He was sort of on everyone’s radar screen, and was the sale topper there, and a great pedigree, beautiful horse, had a sensational breeze at OBS.  So we were well aware of his capabilities early on and he came into Saratoga and trained accordingly for us.  What probably surprised me more than anything was as we were training him the amount of speed that he showed that he had.  You know, normally with a horse of his pedigree you wouldn’t necessarily think you would start them off at five and a half furlongs in their first start, but because of the timing of it and just where he was in his training we decided to run him late in the meet at Saratoga going five and a half, and I think when a horse like him is able to win from the one post in that type of situation and show speed from gate to wire, stamped his quality, and then, you know, to be able to stretch out to a mile and a sixteenth in his second start, you know, it’s pretty exceptional; you don’t see that very often.  So just, you know, with the exception of kind of getting lost a little bit in the far turn and acclimating to the dirt in the Breeders’ Cup, he had a remarkable two-year-old season and then he’s done all the things you’d physically want one to do from two to three, so we kind of—he’s the whole package.

Danny Brewer:                    Last one from me, East versus West, you said that West Coast horses seem strong.  Do you put a lot of stock in the whole East versus West thing?  I know it’s been going on for years.  What’s your thoughts on that?

Todd Pletcher:                     Well, it’s not so much, you know, that it’s an East versus West thing, I think it’s just trying to kind of get a line on the ability levels on both coasts, and you would certainly look at the West Coast and they seem very, very strong.  Of course, any time Bob Baffert has a couple of Kentucky Derby horses you have to give him a lot of respect.  He’s certainly tremendous at getting horses there and having them perform well, so I’ve got a lot of respect for the horses on the West Coast.  I think it’s a very strong group from out there.

Don Jensen:                         Can you explain the achievement in the Tampa Bay Derby how that has led to basically his progress as a racehorse right now?

Todd Pletcher:                     Well, it was the—timing-wise it was the perfect prep for him.  We felt like based on the little bit of freshening he was given at WinStar following the Breeders’ Cup that we were sort of going to land around that March 7 date before he’d be ready.  He wasn’t quite ready for the Fountain of Youth, and we didn’t want to start him off at seven eighths; we wanted to get a two turn race under his belt.  So timing-wise it was just kind of a good fit for him, and I think historically is a great place to prep horses, and safe surface, and we’ve had success there in the past with quite a few horses, but in particular Super Saver made his first start back there and that led to his Kentucky Derby win.  So, it was kind of a no brainer really for us, and, you know, once we got him back in training and kind of saw where he was in his development, we never really considered any other race.

Tom Pedulla:                        Todd, we see the Grade 1 races and sometimes it almost seems like they go to the same group of riders, and then this weekend we have C.C. Lopez riding a long time trying to get his first Grade 1.  What—is it a fine line that separates these riders, and is a lot of it opportunity?

Todd Pletcher:                     Oh, I think 100% it’s opportunity.  You know, I think if you’re a jockey or a trainer, and, you know, a lot of times you’re only as good as the product you’re given, and very similar to being a basketball coach or something like that where you could be terrific at it, but if you don’t have the right athlete, you know, you’re going to have a tough time winning.  So a guy like C.C. Lopez is a veteran rider; he’s won a lot of races.  He’s a very talented jockey, and I think he’s getting the opportunity to display that, you know, when he’s found a quality mount like El Kabeir.

Tom Pedulla:                        Okay, thank you.  If I could do one other follow-up, Todd, you never seem to—the history of the Juvenile winners going on to win the Derby obviously is not good, but yet you never shy away from the Juvenile.  Could you talk about your philosophy there?

Todd Pletcher:                     Well, I think it depends.  I mean there have been situations where we’ve chosen not to go, and most of the time it’s really about the horse and how the horse is doing.  But we’ve felt like over the years that sometimes I think you can’t put all your eggs in the Kentucky Derby basket and you can’t believe in jinxes and streaks and that sort of thing.  If you have a good two-year-old that’s doing well that’s in a position to compete in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile I think that’s what you’re supposed three-year-old do, and who knows six months from then what’s going to happen.  So I think we might see a string where three or four Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners will win the Derby at some point, but it’s—I think it’s real easy to find all of the horses that don’t win the Derby.  There’s a lot of them every year and there’s only one successful formula, so it’s certainly a lot easier to come up with all the stats on the ones that don’t.

Tim Wilkin:                           When the year starts out and you’re starting to sort your horses out and who’s going to go where and such, do you start feeling—putting pressure on yourself to get as many as you can to Churchill on the first Saturday in May?

Todd Pletcher:                     Honestly, no I don’t think about anything along those lines in terms of numbers.  What I generally do is some of these horses you’re developing we’ll start to look at some of the prep races and try to decide which horses might fit which preps, and we’ll try to plan some of those things out a couple of months in advance.  In other situations like Materiality, who won the Islamorada and the Florida Derby, really the Islamorada was not a race that was even on the stakes calendar; it just came out as an Overnight Handicap in the Condition Book.  So it was something that we really weren’t planning on.  When the race was there we decided to take a look at it, and when he—Materiality and Stanford both breezed well we decided that that might be an opportunity for both of them to kind of get a two turn race and put themselves in a position to maybe come back in of the later preps.  So there’s some cases where you plan things out months in advance and it doesn’t work, and there’s other ones that do work out, and there’s other ones that just sort of you’ve got to play it as it comes and see when the horses are telling you they’re ready to do something.

Tim Wilkin:                           What’s the status of Blofeld right now?

Todd Pletcher:                     He’s here at Palm Beach Downs training very well and ready to go for five eighths, so he’s probably in the neighborhood of a month or so away from being ready to run.

Tim Wilkin:                           So I take it you’ll probably be at Keeneland this weekend?

Todd Pletcher:                     I’m thinking so, yes.  I’m still in Florida at the moment.

Ron Flatter:                           Todd, how set are you with riders for the Derby for your six horses?  Javier be on Daredevil, will Luis be on Itsaknockout, and then where does Johnny wind up?

Todd Pletcher:                     I think, you know, a lot of that’ll be clarified after next weekend’s races and probably after the Arkansas Derby then we’ll solidify all those.  So we’ll have to see how Carpe Diem runs and how Daredevil runs and how Madefromlucky runs, and we’ll start making some of those decisions after that.

Ron Flatter:                           To what extent can you tell us who gets what choice and how much you have to say about it?

Todd Pletcher:                     Well, I think most of these situations, for example, if Johnny wins the Bluegrass on Carpe Diem, and he’s three for three on Materiality and he’s ridden Carpe Diem in every one of his starts then, you know, obviously that’s going to be his choice.

Ron Flatter:                           Should we put much stock into which choice he has?  I mean if you were a player, would you say, well, if Johnny took that horse that’s the horse I should be looking at?

Todd Pletcher:                     I’d say historically you should bet on the other one.  But no, those are tough decisions, and decisions that nobody wants to have to make, and they’re not easy ones, and there’s a lot at stake, and, you know, a lot of times there’s not a right or wrong one.  I’m sure he’ll want as much time to sort it out as he can, and, you know, it’s fortunate for a trainer you can run more than one in a race like that and unfortunate for as guy like John Velazquez that he can only—he has to choose one.  So we’ll see.  Like I said, hopefully these horses continue to run well and have those decisions to make which aren’t easy ones.

Ron Flatter:                           Just one other thought on that.  Would Florent be in the mix for Stanford or would you be looking to go with somebody with more Derby experience?

Todd Pletcher:                     Oh, I think he’s definitely in the mix.  I think he’s a very good rider, an up and coming rider, and, again, some of that stuff will be sorted out over the next couple weeks, but he would be in the mix.

David Grening:                     Hi, Todd.  Could you assess—two questions.  Could you assess Daredevil’s Swale, and then secondly, your confidence level on him going a mile and an eighth, and if you’re fortunate enough, a mile and a quarter?

Todd Pletcher:                     Well, I thought his Swale was a very good race.  We didn’t anticipate we were going to have to run as fast as we would’ve had to in order to win the Swale, and I think we had him prepared in a fashion where we hoped he would run well and expected him to run well, but didn’t necessarily think we’d have to run quite that fast to get the job done.  So I thought he ran super and he came out of it well, and he did win at a mile as a two-year-old so that gives us some confidence that he’ll stretch out.  His half brother Albertus Maximus won the Donn Handicap which gives us added confidence.  Certainly the success we had with Verrazano around, you know, two turns in the Wood Memorial and the Haskell gives us confidence that More Than Ready can produce a horse that will do that.  I think he’s very talented.  He’s also fast, and part of his success stretching out is going to depend on, you know, how he settles the first part.  So we’re excited about the opportunity and looking forward to it, and like everyone else, we’re going to be interested to see how he sees out the mile and an eighth.

David Grening:                     HHis ability to harness his speed, have you seen a difference with him in the morning as he’s matured from two to three?

Todd Pletcher:                     Yes, he’s never been a rank horse.  He’s never been a horse that we’ve had to focus a lot on just to get him to slow down in the first part.  He’s a pretty kind horse.  He’s got a good mind like most of the More Than Readys, and he’s a kind horse to train.  But, you know, at the same time he’s got natural speed and we’ll look to use that to his advantage.

Louisa Barton:                     Do you see any of your contenders now for the Derby as potential winners of the Triple Crown, and what do you think it will take to get a horse to do that?

Todd Pletcher:                     Well, you would hope and even that you would have hopes that they could win the Derby then naturally you would hope they could continue the streak.  I think it goes without saying how difficult it is and how demanding it is, and I think especially in today’s world where a lot of guys are, including us, are willing to sit out the Preakness and come into the Belmont with five weeks rest, not only is it hard enough to win the Derby against everyone and then the Preakness against sometimes fresh horses, but then the Belmont with another group of fresh horses.  So it’s demanding to win three races in a row in any situation, but particularly over the course of five weeks at three different tracks.  You know, I’m sure it will be done again; it just takes a super horse to do it.

Louisa Barton:                     Obviously you’ve had a hugely successful career with seven Eclipse Awards, and broken the all-time money record, and a thousand stakes races, and on the way to the Hall of Fame.  As far as the Derby goes, you’ve had some injuries from some pre-race favorites and contenders.  Has the Derby become a really big challenge for you, and how important is it to win that race?

Todd Pletcher:                     Oh, it’s a challenge for me and a challenge for everyone, and I can honestly say that it’s a race that I would love to win every year, but it doesn’t encompass our whole year.  It’s one race that we’ve been—we’ve had a lot of success leading up to in the preps, and if you’d have said that at the age of 47 I’d have won a Kentucky Derby I would’ve told you a long time ago that I wouldn’t think that that could happen.  So I’m grateful that it did once, and I’d like to improve on our record and love to win it again, but on May 3 I’ll wake up either way and try to go out and keep doing what we do the rest of the year.

Jim Mulvihill:                        All right, Todd, I just want to thank you for sharing so much great info with us today and taking so much time with the media.  We very much appreciate it.

Todd Pletcher:                     Thank you very much.

Jim Mulvihill:                        All right, thanks to Todd Pletcher.  He has six known legit Kentucky Derby prospects, two of which will run this weekend.

And yet there’s another trainer out there who might be in an even more enviable position heading into the Kentucky Derby, and that’s our next guest.  We’re trying to connect now with Hall of Famer, three time Kentucky Derby winner, and three-time Eclipse Award winner as Outstanding Trainer, Bob Baffert.  He’s got undefeated Dortmund, and the intriguing One Lucky Dane set for Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby, and the following weekend he’ll have two-year-old champion American Pharoah running back in the Arkansas Derby.  Bob, it’s Jim Mulvihill.  I’m calling you from Lexington.  We really appreciate your time today.  We want to get right to this weekend’s races and your Derby prospects, so let’s start really with the inevitable comparison between Dortmund and American Pharoah.  They were the top two in this week’s NTRA Three-Year-Old Poll of the media, and, you know, this common line of thinking that I keep hearing is they’re so close in talent but a lot of the media gave the edge to Dortmund maybe because he has a more appropriate style for the Kentucky Derby.  Is that—is there anything to that?  What do you think of that?

Bob Baffert:                          Well, I think the fact that Dortmund, he’s won five in a row, and he’s already run in Kentucky the way people think—it really doesn’t matter to me.  They’re both outstanding three-year-olds and I just feel so fortunate.  I can’t believe I have two horses like that the same year, you know, as I did with Congaree and Point Given, and they’re just two really solid but they have totally different types of styles.  Dortmund is a taller horse, not by a lot.  I think Pharoah is starting to grow—I can tell he’s starting to grow now.  They’re just two different types of horses and sort of hard to compare them.

Jim Mulvihill:                        Well, okay, I’m sure we’ll have some more questions about American Pharaoh from the media, but now I just want to talk about the Santa Anita Derby since that’s the one that’s at hand here.  So more on Dortmund.  He was—he’s got so much heart it seems.  You know, you look back at the Bob Lewis and he just looked absolutely beat.  So tell me how on earth a horse comes back to win when he’s beaten a length in the stretch like that?

Bob Baffert:                          Yes, it was pretty amazing. He gained so much respect with that run. We were hoping for something like that.  When that horse went by him the first thing in my mind was, wow, boy was I wrong about this horse.  He’s not as good as I thought.  Going in I thought he couldn’t lose, and then when he did that and he came back and won, it made me really appreciate the win so much more, and it makes you feel like, wow, how lucky are we to have a horse like this.  Kaleem Shah, he felt the same way.  You know, going in we were like—it sort of wakes you up, you got a scare.  It was like Kentucky, Notre Dame, you know, it’s like what’s going on here?  This is not supposed to be happening. But it’s fun.  It’s really fun right now to—the excitement of it all, but at the same time we’re trying to keep our excitement to a normal level because I know the disappointment in this game.  I know that uppercut is waiting for you around the corner. When I call Kaleem or Mr. Zayat, I’m sure when they see my phone number calling they hold their breath for a little bit like, oh, I hope it’s not a bad call.  So we do a lot of texting, that way I don’t want to scare them.

Jim Mulvihill:                        Right, right.  Well, you know, I was surprised to hear you say a few seconds ago that American Pharoah is actually gaining on Dortmund in terms of size, because I’ve read these descriptions of Dortmund as an absolute beast of a horse.  You’ve trained these huge horses before like Point Given, can you just talk about these really massive horses and what unique challenges there are with them?

Bob Baffert:                          Well, Point Given was a different type.  Point Given, he was a big horse, he had a bigger, deeper heart and girth.  He was a heavier build. He wasn’t as tall.  This horse is tall; his frame, he’s leggy.  He’s more like a Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky.  He’s just a big, tall thing like that.  He’s sort of a smaller build kind of a horse.  He’s not a big, deep-chested horse, but he’s big, long, and he’s really light on his feet.  He’s quick, but he’s a quicker horse than Point Given.  He has more speed.  In his works I’ve seen where he can get up and go quicker—he’s more agile than Point Given was.

Jim Mulvihill:                        Very interesting.  Well, Bob, I don’t want to take up all the questions.  I’m going to ask Nick, the Operator, to check with the media and see what they have for you. 

Louisa Barton:                     Of your other contenders for the Derby, who do you see as possibly a biggest threat to either Dortmund or American Pharoah at this point?

Bob Baffert:                          I really don’t sort of look at that.  Right now, we’re just concentrating right now on keeping our horses healthy, because if they’re not healthy and on top of their game (inaudible) better losing the Derby, and that’s my main concern is keeping them at that peak level.  They’re really doing well right now.  Dortmund, he’s coming into this race just in perfect form.  American Pharoah, he shipped, had the race, came back, worked fantastic yesterday.  He goes there.  When they start going a mile and an eighth, this is when they start separating themselves; the cream starts separating. What I’ve seen so far, I think Todd Pletcher’s got a really strong hand.  That horse that won the Florida Derby, there’s no telling how good he is.  TCarpe Diem, he looks like he could be any kind.  So overall, a pretty strong group, and American Pharoah, we just don’t know how good he is yet; he hasn’t really been tested.  This race he’ll get tested.  So it’s hard to say, but right now our main concern is just keep them all healthy.

Louisa Barton:                     Certainly.  Is there a strength or weakness that you’d mention about either one of Dortmund or American Pharaoh that could make one finish ahead of the other?

Bob Baffert:                          We don’t know.  We know that Dortmund is probably more battle tested.  He’s been in a fight.  American Pharoah, he’s a different type of horse.  He’s fast, but he does it effortlessly.  He cruises effortlessly.  So I really don’t know.  He hasn’t been in a dog fight, so we don’t know how he’s going to respond, it’s like the final four and we’re in the smaller brackets now where things start to pick up a little bit.  So I think after his next race we’ll know a lot more about him.

Art Wilson:                           You’ve had a ton of success in the Santa Anita Derby particularly.  When you decided to switch over to the thoroughbreds, could you ever have imagined that you were going to be this successful with three-year-olds in the Kentucky Derby and the Santa Anita Derby both?

Bob Baffert:                          You know, when I first started thinking about the switch, I had no idea.  I was a little intimidated when I came over here.  I came over here wearing a cowboy hat and my boots, and I was like, wow, you see these big names; greats, Charlie Whitingham.  We didn’t have them and I see all these guys and I was just in awe of them, and it was like, I had a lot of success in the quarter horse world, and I thought, man, I don’t know.  I’m going to give it three years.  If I don’t make a splash within three years, I’m going to head back and I’ll be very comfortable running quarter horses.  But, thanks to the help of Mike Pegram, Hal Earnhardt, my good quarter horse owners, they really have a lot of confidence in me, and they were behind me, and they knew it was going to be—they knew it was going to be a little rough.  I wasn’t going to have instant success. My first couple races it was pretty bad; it was pretty embarrassing.  You know, I ran last, got beat a block, you know.  I remember the first couple times my brothers and a friend of mine came with me to watch my horse run and I claimed the horse, and the third time I had him in I called them up, you guys coming with me, and they said, oh, no, you’re on your own, dude.  Forget it.  We’re not coming.  It was too embarrassing.  It was pretty humble beginnings.  I started with one horse, and then I had two horses, and I built my way up.  So it wasn’t easy—it wasn’t an easy road for me.  I never worked for anybody.  I didn’t work for a thoroughbred trainer.  I didn’t have that experience, so I had to learn by trial and error, which most of it was error, it was really good for me, though, because it really made me work much harder and it’s kept me hungry all these years.

Art Wilson:                           Bob, there seems to be a general consensus among a lot of media members that you kind of really think that American Pharoah is something really special, but then also talking to you today and in other instances you seem to think—in your mind you don’t really know which one yet is better; Pharaoh or Dortmund.  Is that right?

Bob Baffert:                          Well, we’re always hoping—when you win we’re always, oh, I got a—maybe there’s a better one; maybe the other one’s better.  say You that in case this one gets beat, well don’t worry, we’ve got a better one, you know.  They’re two different types of horses.  Dortmund’s just a big, long jumping animal, but Pharoah, he’s a big long jumping horse. Martin works them both and it’s really hard to separate them because they move differently. American Pharoah, he’s brilliant.  The way he moves he does it effortlessly. It’s hard—but they’re nice, very well-mannered horses.  They don’t get hot and they they’re just really quiet, gentle horses.  You can walk up to them, and Pharoah  he’s just a really sweet horse; he’s just really nice.  Dortmund, he can get a little worked up.  He’s a big horse.  I can’t believe how fortunate I have these two, you know, the big guns, in my barn like that.  Plus, and One Lucky Dane, he’s starting to turn the corner a little bit.  I got a little bit behind on him, and I expect a big effort out of him in the Santa Anita Derby.

Ron Flatter:                           Bob, could you talk a little bit about how you scheduled American Pharoah coming off the injury and Dortmund obviously not having to come off the injury, and what went into your thinking picking the races for them and how far you’d space them apart leading up to the Derby?

Bob Baffert:                          Well, on Pharoah I had a setback with him so I was going to give him the time, but actually I had a little setback with Lookin At Lucky I remember, and I set it up the same way.  I said I’m going to do this, run back here, and soI think I can give myself enough time where I can get him ready.  The only reason he came around so quickly is he really didn’t we kept him in  light minimal walking with weights and I kept him up.  He never had to leave the barn, so it wasn’t that serious of an injury; it was just a setback.  So I gave him plenty of time to just let him grow up and mature a little bit, and it really worked out, and now it sure looks like it’s really paying off.  He’s been just marching forward and he came out of the race better than he went in, so I’m really happy with the way he’s coming into the Arkansas Derby.

Ron Flatter:                           Do you wish that maybe up until now he would’ve faced somebody who would’ve really gone out and tried to set the pace on him so that maybe you’d see how he’d look in that kind of a challenge?

Bob Baffert:                          Yes, I leave that up to Victor.  Dortmund, they’re just big, they’re quick, they’re good horses, and as long as they’re comfortable with what they’re doing, it’s fine.  American Pharoah, he does it pretty effortlessly. He can scoot, he doesn’t look like when he’s working—he looks like he’s galloping and he’s going really fast, he can really throw you off a little bit.  They’re two different kinds of styles.  Dortmund, he’s more of a one pace grinder, big long—that’s why that horse will make a move on him and it looks like they’re going to go, I really think a mile and an eighth is going to be better for him- his stride and I’m hoping that he just keeps doing that.  So we’re always just hoping that the next steps you’re moving forward.

Michelle McDonald:            I just wanted to ask you what Dana Barnes means to your organization?  She’s obviously galloped Dortmund in the mornings, and took Secret Circle over to Dubai to win the Golden Shaheen, and she’s ridden so many of your Classic winners and champions in the morning.  How important is she to your barn over the years?

Bob Baffert:                          Well, her and her husband Jimmy, they’re such been a big factor in our success, and they work so hard and they know the drill.  I was so proud of her going over there and she handled everything professionally.  She adapted.  I told her when you go there you need to adapt to what’s happening there.  She’d tell us what’s going on, this and that.  So she adapted to it and that’s what you have to do.  We can only do so much here.  We get them ready.  She went over there and she thought her ideas, what are we looking at?  She explained to us how she felt about it, what the horse likes, whatever, and everything went smooth.  But we went over there and there was never a hiccup, nothing.  He shipped perfectly.  He’s not been known to be a good shipper.  Went over there and shipped great.  Got there, loved the surface, went over the surface really well, stood in the gates perfect, I mean he felt great, so it was all a matter of luck and Victor just put a fantastic ride on him.  Everything—it was just a team effort, and I was so happy for her.  She was so excited.

Michelle McDonald:            Well, I know she talks a lot about how much she thinks of Dortmund, and some of the things that you all have done together to try to settle him down, like she carries the carrots in her pocket and stops to give him some on the way to the track every morning.  How important has she been in his development?

Bob Baffert:                          Oh great.  She gets on him.  She loves to spoil those animals.  Like Game On Dude, he was so spoiled.  But they give these horses a sense we’re working with you, everything’s cool, and it keeps them levelheaded.  It keeps them relaxed.  That’s the main concern is to keep these horses relaxed.  You don’t want them to lose their cool.  I said, Dana, you know she knows the drill,, and if they’re feeling a little bit too fresh then we’ve got to change it up, and, the closer we get to the race there’s not a lot of playing around because they’re getting psyched up.  I was so proud of her.  I was so happy for her and for the team, Watson, Weitman, and Pegram, it’s too bad one of them didn’t go over there.  Karl almost went.  Dubai getting back on dirt, it was really exciting to watch in the races this year, and when you get Chrome and you get all these good horses go over there, I think it was a big boost to get it back on dirt and  see the Americans come back in there.  It was exciting.

Danny Brewer:                    Talk about Silver Charm for just a minute.  I’m going to go visit him on Saturday morning.  He was kind of the one that put you on the national map.  Can you—have you got any fond recollections of him?

Bob Baffert:                          Silver Charm, he’ll always be one of my all-time favorites.  He was such a fighter, I knew when I led him up there, he was just going to give me everything every time, and that’s really tough on a horse.  He came about, and I just had Cavonnier just got beat a nose in the Derby the year before, and I just bought Silver Charm that week and he was in the barn there, and I really think things happen for a reason, just fate or whatever, and then to come back the next year in his race in the Santa Anita Derby was incredible the way he fought back and he almost won that race, I knew in the Derby when that horse came up to him, I thought here we go again, I’m going to get beat right on the wire, and for some reason I knew that Silver Charm, he’s not going to let that happen, and he didn’t.  He fought,  and he just dug in and he was tough.  He was just a tough, tough horse.  He didn’t want to win by a lot, but he was a true competitor.  This Dortmund reminds me a lot of him.  He digs in like he does, and that’s something you can’t measure that when you buy them.  Like any great athlete you don’t know until they get in that situation.

Danny Brewer:                    Bob, what about this year with Pharoah and Dortmund, does it remind you some of the (inaudible) in ’98 when you won it with Real Quiet, and you seemed to be loaded that year, or do you really even—can you even compare from year to year with your kind of horse you have?

Bob Baffert:                          No, every horse that I’ve had, they’re all different.  They’re all different types of horses.  I’ve gone there loaded.  I went with Point Given and Congaree, and the setup for the race the pace was ridiculous, and it was just bad luck, and we didn’t get it done and the other two races they were like nothing for him, so it was pretty disappointing.  So I know the disappointment, so I don’t dare get too ahead of myself.  The owners they can dream in Technicolor.  I dream in black and white.  I keep it the same.  Everybody around me at my barn, Jimmy, Dana, everybody, we’re going to go in like we’re 10 to 1.  We don’t take nothing for granted; just go in there and stick to your game plan and hope it happens.

David Grening:                     .  I just wanted to jump off the Trail for a second and ask about Lord Nelson if he’s still coming for the Bay Shore, what makes this race a good race for him if he is, and just your thoughts on him one turn versus two?

Bob Baffert:                          Yes, we decided after that last race he was training (inaudible) well, and he just doesn’t have the same kick going two turns that he does one turn, so that’s why we decided to come to Bay Shore.  I think right now I’ll keep him one turn.  I think he can go a mile and a sixteenth—a mile and an eighth in one turn, he’s more explosive when he goes one turn. He’s doing great right now.  He’s coming into that race sharp.  He ships out tomorrow, hopefully we’ll get a good draw and I expect a big effort out of him.

David Grening:                     Who’s going to ride him?

Bob Baffert:                          Rosario.

David Grening:                     Thanks and best of luck.

Donna Brothers:                 I just have a question.  Have you had any temptation to work American Pharoah and Dortmund together in the morning just to sort of put them head to head and see what comes up?

Bob Baffert:                          No, not at all.  I don’t dare do that.  But I did buy a new pony that you are going to love to ride.  I bought him especially for you.  Smoky, you’re going to love this dude.  He’s the quietest.  You’ll love him.  So he’s coming to Kentucky, so be ready.

Jim Mulvihill:                        All right, Bob, we’re going to let you go, but we really appreciate your time today.  You’ve been very generous, and as always, we love having you on.  Good luck on Saturday and with all of your talented three-year-olds.

Bob Baffert:                          Thank you.  I just hope we can keep it going.

Jim Mulvihill:                        As do we.  We always love having you involved in the Triple Crown of course.

Bob Baffert:                          Anytime.

Jim Mulvihill:                        All right.  Thanks to Bob Baffert.  You know, we spend so much time trying to size up American Pharoah versus Dortmund, but I think as Danny Brewer was trying to allude to, don’t forget that in ’98 Bob was basically watching Indian Charlie all the way into the stretch when his so-called other horse came galloping by.  So sometimes you just don’t know.

Now we’re going to bring in our final guest of this call, and that is John Terranova II.  He’s got El Kabeir in the Wood on Saturday at Aqueduct.  A little bit about John’s background.  He grew up going to the New York tracks with his father, a horse owner.  He went to Boston College to study business, but after two and a half years of that took a leave of absence to work at the track and never went back.  He started out working for one of his dad’s trainers, Dominic Imperio, and in 1993 went out on his own.  He’s won nearly 400 races, including Grade 1s with Laragh, Negligee, and Lilacs and Lace.  This Saturday we’ll see El Kabeir in the Wood.

John, you’re on with Jim Mulvihill in Lexington.  Thanks for coming on with us.

John Terranova:                 Hi, Jim.  Thank you for having me.

Jim Mulvihill:                        Absolutely.  Well, there’s a lot to like about El Kabeir.  He’s posting some very strong works in the mornings.  Can you just tell us about how he’s been training and what we can expect to see out of him this Saturday?

John Terranova:                 Yes, well he’s been training great.  You know, he hasn’t had a hiccup fortunately throughout his early career so far, and he just keeps finding more every time and coming back off these races really well, and we’ve—he’s allowed us to target each one so far this winter.

Jim Mulvihill:                        All right, and let’s talk about the Gotham, because that was pretty impressive.  He came from I think more than 12 lengths out of it, which I don’t think anybody saw coming.  So what kind of advantage is it now knowing that you’ve got a horse that has won on the lead, has won stalking, and now closing as well?  How does that make you feel not only for this race but down the road?

John Terranova:                 You know, it’s great.  He’s really matured and developed mentally as well as physically, and he’s just done everything right for us and impressed us more and more each race, and found a new dimension obviously last time, so that was quite nice to see that he was able to do that.  We’ve been working with him and we’ve got a great crew; great exercise rider with Simon Harris, and my wife Tonya and I we work together.  So, you know, they’ve all done a great job with him, and he’s just an extraordinary horse.

Jim Mulvihill:                        That new dimension that you said, it was great to see.  How much of that was by design and how much of it was just something that happened when the leaders got out as fast as they did?

John Terranova:                 Well, we’ve been working with him in the mornings to relax and close into some horses and sit off horses and everything, and he’s allowed us to do that.  You know, as I said before, my rider, Simon, he’s done a great job with him, and he’s such a talented colt that’s matured mentally as well as physically and he’s allowed us to do that.  He’s development from two to three has been pretty amazing.  A lot of the horses, they don’t—that look spectacular at two, sometimes they don’t go on at three and move forward, and he certainly has.  So it’s—it did come as a bit of a surprise, you know, in the Gotham.  We thought we’d be a lot closer.  Obviously the pace was strong, but he switched off pretty nice for C.C., and, you know, luckily we’ve got a veteran seasoned jock there that knew what he had underneath him and didn’t panic and he just allowed him to get comfortable and, you know, he had plenty of horse when needed.

Jim Mulvihill:                        You mentioned C.C.  Let’s talk more about him.  Not exactly a household name, especially when it comes to the Derby Trail and the Triple Crown.  So you’ve already made the decision to stick with him for this week, but just talk about him as a rider and the confidence that you’re putting into him with this final Derby prep?

John Terranova:                 Well, I think we’ve seen him around for many years,  up here in New York as well as other tracks.  But he’s ridden for us from time to time in the past, and it just so happened by fate he ended up on him in the Jerome.  Obviously that was a successful race for him.  Came back in the Withers; we thought the race was strong as well.  The owners, the Zayat family and ourselves, we were fine leaving C.C. aboard.  They seemed to have developed a little rapport together and he got to know him, and, you know, it was nice, you know, having a, like I said, a seasoned rider given the different situations that may come up in these big races that just keeps his cool, and he’s seen a lot, so it was a natural fit and it worked out well.

Ron Flatter:                           John, just looking at trying to gauge the pace in all these races, a horse like American Pharaoh that likes to lead has never really been pressed hard; a horse like yours can go either way.  Are you keeping an eye on the pace in all these races or how do you look at that in terms of your horse that’s either for the Wood or even looking ahead to the Derby?

John Terranova:                 Yes, obviously in a lot of these races I think there’s going to be some fast horses that are frontrunners that we’re going to face, and obviously we’ve got the advantage when the gates open to use his versatility to whatever the race calls for.  We were able to see that last time, so it’s a nice position to be in, and depending on how things unfold, the first few jumps out of the gate and where everybody lands, that’s a nice advantage for us to have.  And we’ve seen him before on the lead win and be successful, we’ve seen him coming from well off of it or laying pretty close, so I think he’s in a position now, and like I said, as far as his mental maturity and development have come a long way, he’s going to be pretty versatile in all these races leading into them and seeing how they shape up.

Ron Flatter:                           Do you think given the history with speed horses in the Derby, I mean only one of—War Emblem’s the only one to wire it in the last 26 years.  Do you think it’s just a case where, you know, trainers say just don’t be on the lead?  Do you not want the lead?

John Terranova:                 I think we’d have to play it as each race will come.  You know, like I said, he’s been successful, and he is a fast horse, when needed, but he’s also now shown the ability to rate and come from well off the pace if the early pace is strong in these races.  So, you know, I’m going to leave that up to C.C. and how these races develop when the gates open, but I’m pretty happy that we’re in a position to be sitting to do pretty much anything that the race may call for, and just hope we have a strong enough horse at the end to be finishing well whether it be either on the pace or coming from well off of it.

Danny Brewer:                    The versatility of this horse,that is something that makes him more dangerous.  Is that something that you’ve worked on between races or is it something where his light bulb has just come on?

John Terranova:                 You know, a little bit of both.  We have been working on it, but obviously you can only get them to do what they’re willing to do.  He has matured and grown up a lot, and we have worked with him relaxing behind horses in the morning, throughout the winter.  So we don’t know what we’re ever going to see in the afternoons no matter what we do in the morning for some of these horses, but he’s just been one that’s cooperated and developed more and more the right way, and, you know, love to have that dimension where he can—that versatility where he can show different dimensions and be successful at it.

Danny Brewer:                    I know there’s no perfect game plan, but do you think having more races under his saddle is a benefit, because I know some of these horses have only been two or three times, and he’s been out twice that; seven or eight times?  So do you think that’s an advantage for him as far as seasoning is concerned?

John Terranova:                 I would think so, yes.  I mean he’s had eight races under him so far.  He’s been battle tested, and like I said, he’s won from different places throughout the race, and, whether it’s wiring the field or coming from off the pace now, and been successful at it, so I think it’s a big advantage to have that seasoning under him, not only that fitness foundation but just that mental foundation as well, so I think it helps him tremendously.  He’s a very sound, talented horse that’s allowed us to run him this many times leading into these races, so I think it’s an edge.

Danny Brewer:                    A thoroughbred in action is certainly a thing of beauty, but he’s really pretty, I mean his coat and all that stuff.  Is he as good looking a horse as you’ve ever had?

John Terranova:                 I’d say he’s, he’s a very good looking horse.  He’s not a tremendously big horse, but he’s developed now and he’s really muscled out in his hind quarters and the shoulders and everything, and physically he’s continued to put on size and muscle as he’s grown up into a three-year-old, and he’s a gorgeous animal.  Yes, he’s real athletic, very well balanced, very well made colt, and continues to get better looking.

Tom Pedulla:                        Yes, John, could you take us—take us into how C.C. got this mount in the first place?

John Terranova:                 Sure, Tom.  We had entered him into the Jerome and actually Calvin Borel, he had ridden for us in Kentucky in the Jockey Club and he’d been successful and so we thought we’d keep him on; had intended on bringing him up to New York.  Unfortunately, Calvin had a death in the family that week and the races had already been drawn.  We were kind of limited in our choices of riders at that time couple days before leading into the race.  So,  it just came down to a choice of a few different riders that were available, and, after discussions with the Zayat family and ourselves, C.C. was available, and he’s been riding the inner track in New York through the winter at Aqueduct so we called upon him, and happy for everybody that it’s worked out.

Tom Pedulla:                        Did he have certain qualities that you thought he fit this horse well?

John Terranova:                 Well, he’s an older seasoned rider.  You know, he’s been in a lot of situations, and obviously being a pick-up mount and having one of the favorites, and he was the favorite I believe that day, as a rider we thought, that he wasn’t going to kind of get nervous or whatnot, not that, you would say many of them would, but he was just one of the few choices that we had that we thought we’d go with as a last minute pick-up mount.  Obviously he had been riding the inner track and has known it very well, so it just seemed like the natural choice at the time.

Tom Pedulla:                        Okay, and then just lastly for me if I may, have you gotten calls from agents from more established riders just seeing if there’s any opening there?

John Terranova:                 You know, from time to time they—a few have asked, but I think it was stated, well in the press and everything by the Zayat family and everything that C.C. was going to retain the mount, especially in his last couple races.  At first we were going race to race, just hoping we’d have success and keep moving in the right direction.  So Mr. Zayat and Justin and his family they were pleased with everything, and as were we with how they got along and obviously ran well in these last three preps, in New York, so there was no real question about changing riders or changing anything at that point, and here we are and we’re happy to have C.C. aboard.

Louisa Barton:                     In the Gotham, El Kabeir had to change tactics, and he waited really patiently for C.C. and made a couple of really good moves, and he seemed to handle the change really well.  Do you think it would—those kind of tactics could help him to be the favorite in the Derby?

John Terranova:                 Well, I don’t know about the Derby, but certainly we’ll see what happens this weekend.  It is nice to have a horse that is able to adjust given what the pace calls for, and be able to relax and rate behind horses, take dirt and still have the same kind of finishing kick.  I think it’s going to be to a great advantage of his to be versatile given the dynamics of these races and how they’re going to change and from race to race from what we’re going to see.  He’s not a so-called one dimensional horse.  He’s able to win from many different—using different tactics, you know, whatever the race may or may not call for.

Louisa Barton:                     That certainly plays into the three races, absolutely, because they’re so different, and he does seem to be able to do whatever is called for.  So good luck this weekend.

John Terranova:                 Thank you, Louisa.

Jennie Rees:                        Yes, John, when you brought him to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Jockey Club, if somebody would have told you you’d be in the position you are with him today, would you have been surprised?

John Terranova:                 Yes, at that point we had shipped to Kentucky and we had talked it over with the Zayat family and we had thought let’s ship him; let’s see how he does on the road, and we’ll give him a test around two turns.  You know, obviously it came over the Churchill surface so that was in the back of our minds, too, getting a run over that track.  After that race he obviously proved he can handle the two turns as well as he held on wire to wire in that race.  We did go into that race thinking we were a little bit not as cranked as maybe we could’ve had him at that point, and he certainly proved to me right then and there that he was something really special.  I mean we knew he had talent, but for him to be able to go in there knowing how we brought him up to the race and thinking we could’ve had him a little bit tighter for that spot, and also shipping all that way for the first time, that really impressed all of us as well, and right then and there he answered a lot of questions for us.  So we were pretty pleased after that.  You know, we had said to ourselves, if he just can’t handle the distance or doesn’t really run well in this race and handling the two turns, we can always freshen him up and cut him back to the one turn for this year and start off that way.  But, you know, certainly that proved to us right then and there that he’s got a little something extra special there that we can continue on, and, you know, hopefully we’ll get there all the way.  Even the fact that he can relax and finish, that even bodes well for I think the distance that he’s going to be facing coming up.

Jennie Rees:                        Do you think he gets enough credit or do you think there’s some people that still say, okay, but you know what, it was winter racing at Aqueduct and let’s see it when he goes against these horses that have—were prepping in warmer climates, or do you think he does get the respect he deserves?

John Terranova:                 I think maybe around New York he has so far, and I know people like him, and they’re all facing different levels of horses and we don’t know who’s going to be left at the end of the day going into the Derby or whatnot or even, you know, the Wood this weekend.  I mean he’s done everything right each time, you almost don’t want him to do too much too early or show too much too early, but I mean I think his natural progression has just led us to have more and more confidence in him from race to race, and just seeing him physically and mentally as he’s trained and how much stronger he’s gotten I think, there’s a lot more to come down the road.

Jim Mulvihill:                        All right, John, just a couple more that I’m curious about personally.  You know, this is one of the first horses you’ve trained for the Zayats, and they, you know, could’ve sent this horse to anybody, including your friend Bob Baffert.  So can you tell us about training for them and how El Kabeir came to you in the first place?

John Terranova:                 Well, we’ve known the Zayat family for many years.  You know, obviously we’ve taken care of Bob’s horses, and that includes many of the Zayat horses that have come east over the years.  So we had known the family for quite awhile, and we’d always had a good rapport with them, and they always were happy to be around our barn and we’ve had some good success in New York with some of Bob’s horses.  I think they were looking for somebody in New York at the time.  They had a group of two year olds to send there and they gave us a call and we didn’t hesitate.  That was a nice phone call to get, and obviously we’d known they’ve got great enthusiasm for the game; they’re committed and seem to have some very talented horses around the country year in and year out, so naturally we were very pleased and fortunate and thankful that they asked us to take a group of two-year-olds.

Jim Mulvihill:                        Very good.  Scat Daddy, you know, he came into the Kentucky Derby with what looked like a big chance after winning the Florida Derby, but that didn’t go so well for him.  So what kind of sense do you have for how El Kabeir will handle a mile and an eighth and then hopefully a mile and a quarter a month later?

John Terranova:                 Well, it’s hard to know, once we get to the mile and a quarter about any of them pretty much I think at this point, but certainly he’s answered the questions, the two turns and a mile and a sixteenth he’s had no problem with, so a mile and an eighth, given the fact that he’s learned to relax and he’s gotten stronger mentally, physically and he’s had all this seasoning into him, you know, we’re fairly confident he’s ready to run a good race and so far he’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him and continues to move in the right direction and move forward and get stronger.  As far as the distance goes,  so far I don’t see any issues or anything standing in his way at this point as far as he’s given his races and the way he’s trained.  So we’re really looking forward to it and trying to stretch him out a little bit more, and certainly I couldn’t ask for him to be doing any better at this point going into a race like this.

Jim Mulvihill:                        Excellent.  Then, you know, when he wins the Gotham as easily as he does, I suppose you watched him gallop out after the wire.  What did that tell you?

John Terranova:                 I think it was fine.  I mean he had plenty more.  Like I said, I think he made a couple of moves in that race and was down inside and had to take a lot of dirt, and certainly won with pretty much authority.  I know people are saying it wasn’t the strongest field, but I just think the way he did it, the track throughout the winter I think it was maybe a little bit on the demanding side; it was a little bit we that day, he had to overcome that, and given the fact, and even over a really fast surface like we had a Saratoga last summer he ran tremendously fast.  So he’s, numbers-wise and everything, they really don’t concern me, it’s almost the way he did it.  Like I said, he came out of the race really well, seemed to be a lot more—he bounced out of the race immediately, you know, pulling out and in the days following, so I think when called upon he’s going to have more there.

Jim Mulvihill:                        Excellent.  Well, John, it’s a very exciting time and he’s a very exiting horse.  We wish you luck on Saturday.

John Terranova:                 Thanks so much.

Jim Mulvihill:                        All right, thanks very much to John Terranova, and that’ll do it for this Road to the Triple Crown teleconference.  Thanks, everybody, for your patience going a little bit over today.  I do want to remind everybody that if you’re in Kentucky, please consider joining us tomorrow night at Keeneland for a spring meet handicapping preview in the sales pavilion.  That’s presented by The Louisville Courier-Journal and Jennie Rees is hosting that panel.  You can buy tickets at Keeneland.com or at the door, and it’s only $10 for a reception and the seminar afterwards.

Once again, thanks to John Terranova, Bob Baffert, and the real Toddster, Todd Pletcher.  As always, look for the audio file of this call later today at Ntra.com.  The transcript will be in the same spot tomorrow.  I want to thank Joan Lawrence for lining up these incredible guests today as she does every week.  If there’s any way that we can help any of you with your coverage of this weekend’s races just let us know.  Now I’ll send it back to Nick.  Thanks, everyone.

2016-12-14T16:09:46+00:00 March 31st, 2015|Categories: Teleconferences|
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