NTRA Communications National Media Teleconference for October 21
NTRA Communications National Media Teleconference for October 21
NTRA Teleconference “Breeders’ Cup World Championships Pre-Entry Teleconference”
Trainer Mr. Bob Baffert
Trainer Mr. Richard Mandella
Trainer Mr. Kiaran McLauglin
Trainer Mr. Dale Romans
Breeders’ Cup president Mr. Craig Fravel
President and CEO of Keeneland Assocation Mr. Bill Thomason
Operator: Good day, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Pre-Entry Teleconference. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Following the presentation, we will conduct a question and answer session. At that time, participants are asked to press star, one to register for a question. I’d like to remind the speakers when answering your question to please state your name before answering the question. As a reminder, today’s conference is being recorded.
It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Mr. Jim Gluckson. Please go ahead, sir.
Jim Gluckson: Thank you, Michelle, and good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Pre-Entry Teleconference. Today we have our special guests that we’ll be bringing in a little bit in Bob Baffert, Richard Mandella, Kiaran McLaughlin, and Dale Romans. Here in Lexington we have Breeders’ Cup President, Craig Fravel, and President and CEO of Keeneland Association, Mr. Bill Thomason. You’ll be hearing some opening remarks from those two gentlemen and then we’ll get into the call. At this particular time, we will have at the end of the call if you have questions for Craig or Bill we will field them at that particular time. Also here to answers questions if you have them on the field of the races are—is Tom Robbins, who is the Chairman of the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors and Secretaries Panel.
So without further ado, I’d like to have some opening remarks here from Breeders’ Cup President, Craig Fravel.
Craig Fravel: Thanks, Jimmy. I’ll be very brief because I know you guys want to get on to talking to the real stars of the show. Since the horses don’t talk, we’ll let their trainers do that for them. But for those of us here at the Breeders’ Cup, we’re very pleased with the outcome of pre-entries on Monday. We had a total of 200 horses entered; 44 of those Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners, 32 international entries, a very deep group of horses and we’re very grateful for the support of owners and trainers in this country and around the world for their support of the Breeders’ Cup. This promises at this point to be one of the most exciting Breeders’ Cups we’ve ever had, and it’s a great pleasure for the Breeders’ Cup to be bringing that here to Keeneland, which is a very unique and will be an extraordinarily fun venue for the Breeders’ Cup.
So with that, I’d like to just give Bill Thomason a brief opportunity to say hello and then we’ll move on to the trainers. Bill?
Bill Thomason: From Keeneland I’d like to say that we have spent the last 18 months preparing for this very special day. We are proud to be hosting our first Breeders’ Cup, and all of our Guest Service people and our staff from the entire grounds have spent this year making sure that we are going to be providing a very special opportunity for all of our patrons and all of our fans and the people who are going to attend this Breeders’ Cup, and it will—and the community excitement that’s been building for the last year, I think everyone who has a chance to participate in this Breeders’ Cup and to be here is going to have a—be involved in a very special time in our history and in the history of Lexington, so thank you all for being here.
Jim Gluckson: Thank you, Bill, and thank you, Craig. We’re going to bring in our guests right now: Richard Mandella, Kiaran McLaughlin, and Dale Romans. Bob Baffert, who is behind, had some work to do and he is going to join us a little bit later, but right now let’s have Richard and Kiaran and Dale join us on the call
Jim Gluckson: Good afternoon. We’ll just bring in Richard Mandella and Dale Romans and Kiaran McLaughlin. Good afternoon, gentlemen. Jim Gluckson here in Lexington. How are you all today?
Dale Romans: Good.
Kiaran McLaughlin: Great day in Kentucky.
Jim Gluckson: All right. Excellent. Let’s start right away here; a question for each of you. Dale, I’d like to go to you first about your decision with Keen Ice not to race over the 8 week period to prepare him for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. What went into the decision and how has his development been over that period of time since you decided not to have a race in between?
Dale Romans: You know, Jerry Crawford and I with Donegal talked about it for a long time. It’s a little bit different for a three-year-old, the path that we have to take to end up at the Classic. You have to run several times in order to get enough points to get into the Derby and then you have to run in—well, we ran in two Triple Crown races, which were very difficult races back to the Haskell and then back to the Travers, and it just squeezes you a little bit if you’re going to work the Jockey Club or something in there. Our horse is a horse that I’ve never seen tired; that he just has a great engine that just keeps on going, and I felt like we could keep him sharp, keep him fresh; that he had turned the corner at the Haskell and showed us a turn of foot we hadn’t seen, but became mentally a little more aggressive even to the point of arrogant. You know, he brought his A game to the Travers and we just felt like we could maintain that right into the Breeders’ Cup, and so far I haven’t seen any signs of him backing up at all.
Jim Gluckson: Excellent. Also, Dale, I’d like to have you comment on Brody’s Cause, who is an outstanding winner—in winning Claiborne’s Breeders’ Futurity here at Keeneland, and his development?
Dale Romans: You know, Brody’s just a machine. You know, two years ago, again, Jerry Crawford and I had discussed that we should probably leave our two-year-olds behind, because if they’re as good as we want them to be then nobody’s going to care where they broke their maiden, and if they aren’t that good they can’t win at Saratoga anyways. So we started leaving horses behind and running them at Ellis Park and getting the good experience. If you look at Brody’s chart, it might be one of the worst races any one of my horses ever ran, and I don’t know where that came from. But he came back and ran a huge maiden race at Churchill, and then just—we thought as we would stretch him out he would improve, but we always felt like he was ahead of the curve for his pedigree and ran a great race at Keeneland. It shows he likes the racetrack and has done nothing but show me that he’s going to run his A race come Breeders’ Cup; he and Unbridled Outlaw. Unbridled Outlaw I think is a very talented two-year-old we have in the race also that if you go back and watch the Iroquois, I’ve never had a horse get in trouble so many times and still keep fighting back to hit the board and run third. I was very happy the Selection Committee decided to let him in, and he’ll be a horse to be heard from.
Jim Gluckson: Richard, I wanted to ask you to give us an update on Beholders’ condition, please?
Richard Mandella: Yes, she’s doing very well today. Yesterday morning, the first morning after she got here, she had a temperature and just was suffering what we would call shipping fever. I think it was brought on by the fact she was really tense in the flight. When I walked her off the plane and walked her a little bit and put her in the stall she urinated what seemed like 20 minutes. I’m sure she did not urinate on the plane or I don’t think she drank much water because she drank a bucket right off, and I think that is what kicked, you know, triggered this. Consequently, with a little bit of treatment she’s doing great. Her blood has corrected itself; her temperature has been good since yesterday morning, so I’m thinking I’m probably going to gallop in the morning. So we’ll see how that goes, but I think we’re back to normal.
Jim Gluckson: All right. Richard, knowing that you beat males once with Beholder and a different group of horses here in the class, how does the race set up for her strategically?
Richard Mandella: I haven’t really thought that much about the race; picking it apart. You know, we know it’s full of good horses. I’m more concerned right now just getting here there in the best shape she can be in, and we’ll pick the finer parts apart closer to the race.
Jim Gluckson: Excellent. Thank you. All right, Kiaran, I want to ask you about Frosted and his development here since winning the Pennsylvania Derby in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Thank you for joining us.
Kiaran McLaughlin: Yes, thanks for having me. Frosted has done very well since winning the Pennsylvania Derby. He just seems to be getting better with each race and each day of training. We ran him back three weeks after the Travers, which was unusual for us as a team. We usually like to have a little more time between starts, but he came out of the Travers so well and he just was tearing the barn down and we decided to go ahead and run him. He ran a huge race and he’s come out of this race great, and he’s, you know, worked twice and he’s going to work again Friday morning, and he’s just doing extremely well, so we’re happy to have him, although, you know, we’re ready to go; it’s just a tough race.
Jim Gluckson: Excellent. Also, Kiaran, in the Longines Distaff with Wedding Toast, she was very impressive in winning the Beldame after not having raced since June. Can you comment on her development, please?
Kiaran McLaughlin: She’s doing very well out of her race. She will have her final work tomorrow morning and she’s doing great. Obviously she loves one turn at Belmont. Keeneland happens to be two runs. But she has won two turns before, and she’s just been better this year than last year. She’s gotten better and better. She drifted a little bit as a three-year-old. Now as an older filly she doesn’t drift at all. She’s just training great and running very well and we think that she will run very well on Friday.
Jim Gluckson: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you, gentlemen. At this time, Michelle, let’s open it up to questions now from the media on the line.
Danny Brewer: This is for Richard Mandella. When you look back at the Pacific Classic, you know, time can always lend perspective. Your thoughts on Beholder and that performance; still a jaw dropper or even more of a jaw dropper now?
Richard Mandella: It still is. It’s sort of hard to believe that any horse could run a race like that. You know, I truly expected her to run a great race or I wouldn’t have started her there, but to be honest, when she made that move and just left the colts, I thought, boy, they must’ve stopped battling. But then when I looked at the timer, it wasn’t them stopping it was her running. So nobody was more impressed than I was.
Danny Brewer: Next up for Dale on Keen Ice. The light bulb, is it screwed in tight enough or do you think that you need to screw it in a little bit tighter, because he’s just really taken off and the light bulb seems to be illuminating quite brightly right now?
Dale Romans: Well, you know, he’s a horse that, if you’ve kept up with him and you’ve kept up with his press all year, which you have I know, I’ve said he’s a horse that gets better every day with training. He’s one of the few horses that I’ve had that the more work you do with him, a lot of them can maintain themselves, but he’s one of the few the more work you do the better he gets. We saw him getting better every day since the beginning of the year. But the big leap was in the Haskell and then the big leap to back it up was in the Travers. You’re not going to see those big leaps anymore I don’t think, but we just keep seeing a steady horse that is so happy with what he’s doing; that he’s figured the game out, and just mentally and physically improving daily.
Danny Brewer: Dale, I appreciate it; Richard, appreciate it. You guys, I wish you the best of luck, okay?
Dale Romans: Okay, thank you, Danny.
Debbie Arrington: Hi. Thank you very much for coming on here and congratulations for all you guys getting to this point. This question is for Richard. Richard, you’ve won the Classic before. How does this race shape up to your prior ones and what do you think of this field?
Richard Mandella: Well, it’s a great field. I mean, for one, it’s got a Triple Crown winner, and we haven’t seen one of those in 30 some years. So it couldn’t get much tougher than that along with the rest of the field that’s very nice. So it’s exciting to be a part of it.
Debbie Arrington: You’ve had Beholder a lot of years now and you’ve been through an awful lot with her. How have you seen her develop over that time and mature, and what sort of personality does she have?
Richard Mandella: She’s very sweet 95% of the time. The other 5 she makes up for it. She’s very aggressive and strong. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. It turns out pretty good.
Debbie Arrington: Does she remind you of any other mares or colts you’ve been around?
Richard Mandella: No, she’s unique in her own. I can’t say she’s similar to anybody I’ve had. I mean I’ve had some very good horses, but her character and personality is just a very special one, and she does bring her—the best of it all to the race and that’s the important thing.
Debbie Arrington: Very good. Best of luck.
Richard Mandella: Thank you.
Louisa Barton: Yes, Richard, thank you all by the way for joining us. I had a chance to interview Gary Stevens yesterday, who, by the way, speaks extremely highly of you, Richard. He commented that he feels that Beholder is one—probably the most intelligent horse that he’s ever had the privilege to ride. What would you comment on that about Beholder?
Richard Mandella: Well, she’s smarter than I am, put it that way. If she was any smarter I’d be in real trouble.
Louisa Barton: He also commented on the benefit of her running style in this particular race, and that, you know, post position might not play that much into it because she can run any way she really needs to run. What would you say about that?
Richard Mandella: She has become a true professional, and I would agree with that. I’ll ask for luck in the race not a particular position.
Louisa Barton: (Inaudible). Then one question I have for Dale. Dale, I just wanted to ask you what your thoughts were about the Travers after the race if you felt that Keen Ice’s win was due to the situation between Frosted and American Pharoah, or if you felt that he had just improved so much that that was the credit for the win in that race?
Dale Romans: Well, if you’re a believer in the numbers then you would say that everyone ran their race, and (inaudible) number, a Beyer number, everything leaped forward. His did not—Pharoah’s did not back up. You know, there’s no bigger fan that I am of American Pharoah, but I think he had his A game. I think that our horse had just—has just matured. Where Pharoah was much more mature than the rest of the crop, our horse has matured and ran the best race of the day. Personally, I think everyone ran their A game. I don’t think Bob Baffert or the Zayat’s would’ve brought American Pharoah into the Travers if they didn’t think he was going to run his best. I think that Frosted did go after him and I thought he showed great determination to hang in there, and when you’re a Triple Crown winner and you have the accomplishments of American Pharoah you do have a bull’s eye on you, and that—but that’s a—that’s endearment; I mean you’ve earned that. But, you know, we’ve seen him put horses away before and keep right on going, and I think that, like Dick said earlier, was it the horses stopping behind him? I feel like our horse was just outrunning. They ran a fast time. All of them ran well. The top three ran super races. It takes nothing away from the Triple Crown winner and his accomplishments; I just think that we were the better horse that day.
Louisa Barton: I agree with you. Thank you all very much and best of luck to all of you.
Dale Romans: Thank you.
Jennie Rees: Yes, this is for Richard. Richard, she was also pre-entered in the Distaff. Are there any circumstances at which you’d run her in the Distaff and not the Classic?
Richard Mandella: You know, I’ve said all along if I didn’t think she was at the top of her game I would not try the Classic. I would go for the more—I’m not sure of the right word, but the race that’s written for her. But my intention is to go to the Classic. But, you know, if I had a feeling that she wasn’t up to par because of the little fever we had, then I might be conservative and go the other way. But I don’t see it. I’m standing here and she’s driving me crazy for a carrot in my hand. I don’t see any signs of what we saw yesterday, and I think she’s going to be fine.
Jennie Rees: This is (inaudible) message that is it the kind of thing you think that she—I mean as great as she is in the Distaff, she maybe wouldn’t have to be 100%? She could be 99% and get the job done versus the colts?
Richard Mandella: That’s what I’m talking about. I mean I think you all know me well enough that if she wasn’t good enough to run I wouldn’t run her.
Jennie Rees: Right.
Richard Mandella: If I’m in the Classic, you’ve got to be at the best of your game. And horses aren’t always there, but, you know, this was early enough I think we’re fine, and I’m not looking for an excuse today.
Jennie Rees: Well, for all those women who have never wanted to pee on airplanes, we can really relate to her I suppose. But she’s only flown three times. Has she had this kind of nervousness before when she shipped for the Oaks and then when she shipped to Belmont or…?
Richard Mandella: She’s excitable. You know, I can’t say that, you know, each one’s been quite, you know, a little bit different. She’s happiest at home. That’s the best I could say. But she’s here and we’re here long enough I think she’ll think this is home pretty quick.
Jennie Rees: Well, it’s very exciting. I have a question for Kiaran. I want to ask you about Cavorting and the Filly & Mare Sprint and her development this year. She came up from Florida, but, you know, a disappointing race and then she’s just been gangbusters since.
Kiaran McLaughlin: Yes, Cavorting’s—she had two bad races back to back in the Frizette on a sloppy track and then in the Davona Dale at Gulfstream on a funny track that day. Frosted ran poorly that day also, and several other horses did. But since that time she’s trained great and has run outstanding in all three of her races. She’s working weekly and she’s scheduled to work tomorrow morning and then on Monday, and she couldn’t be doing better. But it’s the first time facing older fillies and there’s some tough ones out there, but she’s doing well and we anticipate her running well. Richard is making me feel bad either way. Wedding Toast or Frosted, I have—both of them will face her one way or the other; Beholder. You don’t have to bring that up to me, but, yes, so.
Jennie Rees: Yes, well speaking of Frosted, can you articulate the assignment that Frosted is facing and the other horses are facing in this Classic?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Well, it’s, again, first time for older horses; the older mares and older boys for Frosted. We think that we have had an outstanding three-year-old crop, like Dale said. They all ran their race in the Travers; ran well. Frosted is just, you know, he just is like a throwback horse. He just doesn’t miss a note. He stomps around and wants to strike the hot walker in the morning. He’s happy. He never seems to get tired. The more we do with him the better he does. When we won the Pennsylvania Derby, my brother Neil, who has him up at Greentree said, I don’t know if we’re going to be able to keep him on the ground for the six weeks. But he’s just doing extremely well. It’s a tough, tough race with American Pharoah, and Beholder, Honor Code, Tonalist; Keen Ice beat us already. So it’s a great group of horses, but we feel like we’re up for a big race ourselves.
Jennie Rees: Great. Thanks so much. Oh, one final question. Have you looked up the PPs and looked to see what other speeds in that race that maybe you’ll, you know, settle a little bit more behind the speed this time like the plan was and didn’t happen interest he Travers?
Kiaran McLaughlin: I don’t see a lot of other speed to be honest, but, you know, Beholder could be close to American Pharoah and not, you know, pressing him, but she’s just so naturally a talented filly she could be close. There’s not a lot of—there’s pace like a Liam’s Map or something else. But we will be not too far away also I think that we’ll leave it up to Joel whether we’re second or fifth in early running. You never know, as I found out in the Travers. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen when the gates open.
Jennie Rees: Yes. Thanks so much.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from Art Wilson, Los Angeles Newspaper Group. Please go ahead.
Art Wilson: Yes, this question is for Richard. Richard, Beholder, of course she ran big in the Kentucky Oaks. She had a—she got injured in the race last year at Belmont so you can throw that out, but the fact remains she still hasn’t won outside of California. Does that concern you at all going into the race?
Richard Mandella: Any time you’re running a race like this you’re concerned about everything, so no more than everything else that concerns me. So my only concern right now is just to get her in the best shape I could get her for the race and what happens happens.
Art Wilson: Have you noticed any difference when she shipped for the first time as a three-year-old last year and this year? Have you noticed any difference in her demeanor when she ships?
Richard Mandella: Well, it’s too early to tell. We didn’t get to do anything yesterday, the first morning, because she had a temperature from shipping. Today she’s jumping out of her hide and we’re just getting ready to actually ride her under the stable here this afternoon just to do a little something with her, and then we’re going to gallop her tomorrow morning. I won’t really know how she’s accepting everything for a couple days. But in the Oaks the problem was that the pony that took she didn’t—there wasn’t a familiarity with the two, and I—this time to change that we brought our own pony that takes her every day and the pony boy that handles him. So, you know, we’re trying to surround all our problems and head them off.
Art Wilson: My last question is we all know the great year that American Pharoah has had, but if Beholder should win the Classic she’ll finish the year 6-0. She’d have won two Grade 1 races against the boys. In your mind if she wins that race is she Horse of the Year?
Richard Mandella: Well, she beat a Triple Crown winner. Why wouldn’t you be? I’m just kidding. That’s not for me to decide. That’s for whoever the group is that does it. I’m just here to do the best I can.
Art Wilson: Okay, good. Good luck to all of you.
Richard Mandella: All right, thank you.
Tim Wilkin: Yes, this is for Dale. Dale, do you have a rider yet?
Dale Romans: Well, we’re not locked in, but, you know, we’re going to wait and see what happens with Javier, and—but the backup is Irad Ortiz, which we’ll be very happy to have; two great riders. It’ll be one of those two.
Tim Wilkin: When do you think that’ll be decided?
Dale Romans: You know, I don’t know. A week ago up to the last minute. It’s, you know, we know that we’re going to have one of the two, and so it’s—the pressure’s off of looking for a rider. They’re both, you know, arguably the best two riders in the country right now; the hottest two riders, and we’ll just wait and see how things unfold. You know, every day is a long day for horses and horseracing.
Tim Wilkin: For Kiaran, Kiaran is Frosted scheduled to go out at 9 o’clock on Friday?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Yes, he is.
Tim Wilkin: Are you going to be there for that work?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Yes, I’m going to be there tomorrow for Wedding Toast and Friday for Frosted.
Tim Wilkin: Great, I’ll see you up there. Thanks.
Kiaran McLaughlin: Okay.
Frank Angst: Yes, this question’s for Dale. Dale, you talked about Keen Ice’s mental development. Can you talk about some of the things that you’ve seen in his races or in the mornings that kind of point to that development?
Dale Romans: Well, I see it in the morning that he’s, you know, that he used to just kind of look around and be a gawky seven footer. But now I mean he’s just walking—like Dick said earlier, he’s walking on his back feet down the—or Kiaran, walking on his back feet down the shed row half the time and has become really kind of arrogant; hollering for his food and has—seems to know that he’s the kind of the barn. Then racing, you know, I saw—before we had a horse we thought was like a freight train and he’d just coming, coming, coming and was a victim a little bit of fate. In the Haskell, we saw a horse that had turn of foot and was able to stay along and run with that turn of foot. Then he did the same thing in the Travers. That is a huge difference. In the Travers, if you noticed, we put him in the race a lot closer, and it didn’t take any of his finish kick away, and I think that’ll be very important for this race.
Frank Angst: Then just kind of a general question, I mean after this Classic race, last year we saw the top six finishers were three-year-olds, and all six of those horses came back and raced this year. Only one of them has made it back. Just what does that say about just the challenge of just making a race like this and horse racing in general?
Dale Romans: Well, it’s a tough sport. I mean these horses put a lot of pounds of pressure on each leg and each stride, and then a lot of them when they get to this level, you know, if you go to—if you want to race another year—say if American Pharoah did, was perfectly sound and wanted to run another year, it would take every penny he earned just to pay his insurance, and at that time it becomes a business decision in a lot of cases. I’m 90% sure that you’ll see Keen Ice running back next year, and I think that the trend is going to be more and more towards running as the breeding industry has taken on a lot of changes. But you can’t blame someone that—to retire a horse like American Pharoah that’s going to make so much more money at—in the stallion barn, and if he stays in racing can’t afford to pay his insurance.
Frank Angst: Yes. Thanks, Dale.
Dale Romans: Yes.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from John Pricci, horseraceinsider.com. Please go ahead.
John Pricci: Good afternoon. This question is for Dale. Dale, you referred to Ice’s keen of foot and sustained run in the Haskell; kind of becoming a man, and then he came back and he did it against with more of a tactical performance, and, of course, he was able to kick on. Now there may not be the kind of sprint or California type speed in this race; I mean from the get go nobody quarter horsing or anything. But do you see this as a pace that will be strongly contested, and could he possibly revert in his best interest to kind of drop back a little bit and come with that big brush he has?
Dale Romans: I think he could do either. I think if there’s a, you know, if they go into an unrealistic pace early and we have, like I say, one of the two jockeys riding’s going to be one of the best in the country and they’ll be able to realize that, hey, they’re going too fast, and let him settle and let him make his big run. But he’ll make the big run different I think. It won’t be just chugging along and getting a little bit stronger. By the time I think when the jock calls on him he’ll have acceleration and he’ll start trying to run down the horses in front of him. That’s what we had been waiting to see out of him. We have seen it, and this horse has made drastic changes and is a real man. I mean he’s a big, strong colt and he’s finally put it all together. You know, I think that he’s no longer a victim of pace; that he can—the jock will be able to do whatever he wants with him.
And before I hang up from you, Pricci, I want to say thank you for the articles you’ve written about my friend Rick Dutrow, and if anyone hasn’t read them should go and read and see the challenges Rick has been up against in trying to get his license back and train horses.
John Pricci: Well, thank you, sir. One more from me. Know anything about Gleneagles? You know, any unusual concern about the foreign entrants in there, because he sure does have some, you know, good form going into this race?
Dale Romans: (Inaudible) great handicap for him, so I’m just going to try and take my horse in there the best he could possibly be and let the chips fall where they may.
John Pricci: Well, thank you, and may all of you have a safe journey on Saturday.
Ray Paulick: Hey, guys. Dale, I wanted to ask you about the Keeneland surface. I know that you study form and track services a lot. Do you think the track will come into play? Will horses have an advantage that have been over it; having raced over it, and, you know, how do you think that the shippers will do there?
Dale Romans: Well, you know, personally I’ve had a great meet there and I haven’t had one horse train over it or race over it. So, you know, coming off of Churchill, a lot of horses have run very big, and so I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. I think Keeneland has the track in perfect shape. I know that there have been some catastrophic injuries there that have got people scratching their heads, but I think it’s just an anomaly personally. I mean I’ve talked to every rider that’s been on it and every rider that’s ridden any of my horses over it, and I haven’t had a horse come back off the racetrack with any—it’s the bad racetrack. You’re going to have injuries in this game; that’s just the nature of the game. But bad racetracks you start seeing odd types of injuries. Knock on wood, I have not had a horse come back bad off the racetrack, and the horses are shipped in from Churchill and run extremely well. So I think they’ve got it where it needs to be. I know they’ll get a little weather next week, but it’s supposed to get sunny and hopefully we have a beautiful fast racetrack.
Ray Paulick: Have you seen any biases or anything at the track. That’s really more I was talking about rather than…
Dale Romans: I haven’t seen biases. I mean, you know, Keeneland biases were always horses winning on a lead was the bias that we all got accustomed to, but, you know, I haven’t seen it. My horse came from dead last and won the Futurity. So what I’ve been watching, I see the best horse wins.
Ray Paulick: Perfect, thanks.
Liz O’Connell: Hi. I have a question for—about the two colts. First for Kiaran, how much size has Frosted put on this year and how tall is he?
Kiaran McLaughlin: How much size?
Liz O’Connell: Yes, how much weight? Has he put on weight? Has he gained weight? Has he gained height?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Yes, we don’t measure them or weigh them that often, but he has never been as large as he is right now. He’s put on weight since the Pennsylvania Derby. He’s matured, he’s a beautiful horse, and we’re very happy with him.
Liz O’Connell: Kind of the end of the year growth spurt for the colt?
Kiaran McLaughlin: Well, he just looks fabulous. He just couldn’t be doing better. So, you know, he hasn’t taken any of his races hard. He came out of the Travers great when we thought it might be a difficult race on him, and he came out of it great and just kept going, and he—that’s why we’re working him often and pretty fast because we’re trying to keep his weight in good check or good order. He’s really doing well. He couldn’t be doing better.
Liz O’Connell: Great. Awesome, thank you. For Dale, same question. How big is your—you keep alluding to he’s become a man. How big is Keen Ice, and, you know, has—same—he’s put on weight and so on?
Dale Romans: I’m like Kiaran; I don’t measure or weigh my horses very often. But I tell you, he’s gotten big enough he could get over the screen and grab me this morning. He is—he has just really grown. He’s a completely mature horse right now. If I had to guess, he’s probably 62 and—he’s big and strong and very durable and sound. You know, not only is he a great racehorse, I mean hopefully he’s going to produce babies that look and act just like him, and—because it has a major positive impact on the breed in the future.
Liz O’Connell: Great. Okay, well thank you very much.
Geoffrey Riddle: Hi. I’ve got a question for Richard Mandella. I understand that Beholder was stabled beside American Pharoah in California. Can you just tell me what that was like, because Bob Baffert has said that he’s watched Beholder grow and get bigger and stronger? I mean what were your impressions of American Pharoah during this time?
Richard Mandella: A beautiful horse. He’s often on the walking ring when I walk through Bob’s barn. I do that to try and learn Derby lessons, but he hasn’t offered much. But the horse has grown into a beautiful horse. He’s a very kind, smart horse, and he’s a pleasure to watch.
Geoffrey Riddle: I’ve also got a question for Kiaran McLaughlin. When Frosted was beaten by Keen Ice and American Pharoah in the Travers, what did—did you fear that that might be sort of him done for the season? I mean how—were you at all surprised how well he ran last time?
Kiaran McLaughlin: No. You know, we lost our jockey 30 minutes or an hour before the Travers, and Jose Lezcano did what he thought was the right thing to do taking on American Pharoah. But Joel Rosario had worked the horse several times, he rode him several times, and we were disappointed to have to switch riders at the last minute. I got excited at the quarter pole when he was head and held with American Pharoah, and then he got beat two inches of quarter lengths or three lengths and finished third, and came out of it great and we weren’t disappointed at all. He just came on strong, and that’s why we ran him back in three weeks. We don’t do that that often, but he was just doing so well that we were happy to run him back. We weren’t surprised. Obviously we were the favorite there, and it was a big race at Parks, and he’s continued to do well since, so we were very pleased not surprised.
Geoffrey Riddle: Have you had a horse who’s a better constitution before?
Kiaran McLaughlin: One other one would’ve been Invasor. Invasor was just unbelievable and every time you let him over there you didn’t think he would get beat and he didn’t, and he seemed to never get tired either. So it takes a special horse like that to be able to do what we’ve done.
Geoffrey Riddle: Thank you.
Jim Gluckson: . We’re going to bring in—Bob Baffert now I think is going to be able to come on the call here; just give us a minute, and he will—we’re trying to get a hold of him to come on.
Bob, good afternoon. Jim Gluckson in Lexington with Craig Fravel and Bill Thomason. How are you this afternoon?
Bob Baffert: Fine, thank you.
Jim Gluckson: Very good. Well, we want to know your feelings going into the Classic here with American Pharoah facing older horses for the first time, the challenges that he would face, and your emotions in knowing this will be the last time that he will race?
Bob Baffert: Well, we’re—the emotions really—we—haven’t really gone through our minds yet. We’re just—right now we’re just so focused on having him ready and getting him ready for the big race that it probably won’t hit me until we get there.
Jim Gluckson: All right. Well, we have a lot of media on the line here for you, Bob, and for the other gentlemen on the call with Kiaran McLaughlin, Dale Romans, and Richard Mandella. Let’s have some questions now for Bob Baffert, please.
Operator: Thank you. As a reminder, ladies and gentlemen, if you do have a question, please press star, one at this time.
Our first question comes from Louisa Barton of NBC Sports. Please go ahead.
Louisa Barton: Yes, Bob, I wanted to ask you just a couple of things about Pharoah. One is normally during a Triple Crown series and a continuation of an excellent career like Pharoah has, you normally see a horse lose weight, maybe not stay quite as fit, and sometimes even see them, you know, not in the same kind of condition that they were before the Triple Crown races. We’ve noticed in videos and social media that Pharoah looks better than ever; that he’s maintaining his weight. He looks absolutely fantastic and most recently I think looks better than he’s ever looked. What do you attribute that to? Is it feed, is it supplementation, is it just your amazing staff, or what do you attribute that to?
Bob Baffert: Well, I think attribute a lot of it to the horse himself is—here’s what they used to call in the olden days he’s hickory. That’s Pharoah. He’s been able to withstand so much; you know, the racing, shipping, and he just keeps his head in the feed bucket. Like we all say, what a big thing it is to—he licks his tub clean. I think that’s the most important thing in racehorses. And so—but he has the demeanor. He’s a very kind horse. He’s—I weigh him—I keep weighing him. I just weighed him this morning and he weighed 1,190 pounds. He’s got (inaudible) weighs about 1,190. But he’s a lean—he’s just a lean mean fighting machine, and he’s just not a horse that carries any extra weight. So we—when I see him going the other way on me I’ll just back off on him. I have a great staff and we watch him really carefully. If I see he’s getting whatever—like after Saratoga you could tell it was taking its toll on him, but it took him 30 days to pop back up. But one thing I’ve noticed about him is that when I really start really getting after him and start working him, he likes that. He thrives on work. So I think he’s just a different (inaudible).
Louisa Barton: One more question. What do you see as the biggest obstacle, if any, in the upcoming Classic? Is it the trip across country that concerns you or what would you say is your biggest concern, if you have any?
Bob Baffert: Well, he still has to breeze one more time. Everything looks great. You know, I think we’re all on pins and needles, all the trainers, just like when you hear the news about Beholder when she gets there and had a little stress or whatever. But, you know, we—we’re never safe. That’s why I have three stents in my heart and we’re constantly just—they’re like children. They can get cut or they can do something. We’re never safe until we put that saddle on him.
I just worry about focusing on having him really ready and make sure that he really feels great. He’s has to be doing really well for me to lead him up there. That’s the thing about since he’s won the Belmont, you know, we always said—Mr. Zayat said do not, you know, if you see that he’s not, you know, he’s not—he’s gone over the—you know—go over (inaudible) we’re not going to run him anymore, so and I think that we could easily have just called it quits a while ago after the Triple Crown. But I think it’s very sportsmanly to keep going, and I’m glad they did because he’s just—he’s fun to be around and it’s just an honor to be around a horse like him. So he—but my focus right now with everybody on our staff is that horse make sure that he, you know, we’ve got him on a program here to get him there so he runs his big race. Once we enter I think that the draw is very important. I think then you have stuff that’s not—we have nothing—it’s out of my hands. So stuff like that I can’t worry about stuff like that. But I think the draw and the trip or the race, you know, the pace, everything is—you never know. You know, there’s some crazy things going on in the Breeders’ Cup like we saw last year. But all I know is you just get him up there and lead the best horse up there you can get him ready, and when the gates come open it’s a tough race; it’s just they run hard from the word go. So right now I feel confident that he’s—I have him at that level where he’s going to run a big race.
Louisa Barton: Thank you, Bob, very much and really impressed with what you’ve done this year. You and Jimmy and the staff have done a phenomenal job. Best of luck to you.
Bob Baffert: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from Debbie Arrington of Sacramento Bee. Please go ahead.
Debbie Arrington: Hi, Bob, and thanks a lot for coming on here, and congratulations again for getting to this point. You know, a lot has been said, you know, about American Pharoah and he’s definitely a horse for history. How do you want this horse to be remembered? What do you want his legacy to be?
Bob Baffert: I never really get caught up in the legacy, I think your legacy is that he’s a Triple Crown winner. I think it’s about as much legacy as you can carry. To me winning the Breeders’ Cup, it would be like icing; like an added. But I think just what he went through and the thrill that he gave everybody watching him in those races, I think that’s his legacy, 37 years Triple Crown winner, and waiting that long and finally nobody knew for sure if it would ever happen again. We’ve seen really good horses just falter there at the end. So I think his legacy has been made. It’s a Pharoah tour; you know, you get to see him run and watch him, get close to him and watch him perform. Just like I think him and then Beholder, she’s another one, her legacy is she’s a champion and she’s so competitive and she’s tough and she’s getting better and better. There really is some really good horses in there. It’s going to be tough. But that’s what the Breeders’ Cup’s supposed to be; it’s supposed to be tough.
Debbie Arrington: What do you think about this field for the Classic?
Bob Baffert: I think it’s very competitive. A friend of mine was telling me the numbers, and it’s like you’re going to have to run your best race. You can’t come with a B race. You’re going to have to really come with your A game. You’re going to have to get the trip. You know, the trip is so important; the break, the trip. You know, you can be doing great but if you don’t get that, I remember Game On Dude, I could never get the trip I wanted and he just—he was (inaudible). So I know going in how tough and difficult it is, and I’ve been lucky, you know, like fire and ice that he got out there and just ran the race of his life. I could never get him to run that race again, but, you know, he did it on the right day. But you just need to run the biggest race on the right day.
Debbie Arrington: Best of luck.
Bob Baffert: Thanks.
Bob Ehalt: Bob, when you consider all of the pressure involved in owning and raising a Triple Crown winner, what do you feel are the qualities and the desire that’s allowed him to handle all of this?
Bob Baffert: You know, as we all know, everybody in the industry, he’s a little bit hyper; he gets excited easily. He’s such a competitor and he just loves the game, he loves the sport, and he has a great passion. So when you have somebody that has a lot of passion, it really makes my job a lot easier. They’re passionate (inaudible) that he wants to play at the very top level. So it makes my job easier because; if you own a football team, he’d want to get the good recruits; he wants to win the Super Bowl every year. So I think that’s what he brings to the table, and his son Justin, —we have a mutual respect for each other, and so we get along and we discuss things. If they have ideas they’ll tell me and we’ll go over it. When he calls me, when I see his number, it doesn’t——some trainers when people call us we get a stomachache when we see a certain number, you know, (inaudible) that way. We have a good relationship.
Bob Ehalt: Okay. Last year you won the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a three-year-old in Bayern. How would you compare how American Pharoah as a three-year-old is coming up to this race compared to what you saw last year in Bayern?
Bob Baffert: Well, I mean Bayern coming in he was coming off of some really big efforts. He had just won—he had just put the track record and beat California Chrome in Pennsylvania and that was a really impressive race. He came back and trained really well. You know, he had that window that he had run really well in the Haskell. I took him up to Saratoga to try to, you know, I tried to go—I tried to sneak one in there because the Saratoga race it’s just a very, you know, it’s just a little, you know, you like to—we felt like he could just run the table. I was hoping to dethrone California Chrome for Champion Three Year Old, and so—but it didn’t work out, he didn’t run well, and so, you know, we—it’s—when you win the Derby and the Preakness it’s sort of tough to dethrone him. But it was fun.
It was really—it was great for Kaleem Shah who has really put a lot of time and effort and money in the sport, and that’s why, you know, he wanted to—he’s got the passion and wants to be at that level, and to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic was—it was something. I hadn’t won it yet, so it was like missing, but it’s just, you know, you’re always hoping that you’re going to win it, but to win it last year it was really—it was very satisfying for me. But to me when I go to the Breeders’ Cup races, it’s a different vibe than the Derby; it’s just different. This is for the breeders, for the owners, we get to see all these jockeys and trainers, they all get together for a couple days. So its fun watching the European horses come in there. My favorite part is just watching the Europeans come in and the way they do it, trying to watch the way they do it, and you see these famous faces that you’ve seen in Europe and wow, there’s you know John Gosden, Sir Michael Stoute; you know, a lot of surnames show up.
Bob Ehalt: Bob, like you had mentioned how—with Bayern you had him ready to run the race of his life. Is that the same kind of feeling you’re getting from American Pharoah?
Bob Baffert: Yes, we’re—I’m preparing him the best I can, but I know I go into this—I’m going in—the timing was a little bit different, but I think he needed the full 60 days to recoup from the Travers. So I feel that he’s just, you know, after watching him work—his last couple works is something that I had to see, you know, from him. You know, I don’t want to lead him up there unless I know he’s going to really give me a big effort. So I owe it to him to have him really ready so, you know, otherwise I would never lead him up there.
Bob Ehalt: Great. Thank you, Bob. Good luck in the race.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from Ellen Hilts-Gossett of Small Time Production. Please go ahead.
Ellen Hilts-Gossett: Yes, Bob, I’m wondering just how difficult you feel it will be for American Pharoah to become the first winner of the Grand Slam against such a quality field, and what do you believe his biggest threat to achieving that unique status will be?
Bob Baffert: Well, I mean the name Grand Slam, I don’t know, I think we sort of made that up as we went along. But it’s going to be difficult. Any time when you’re at this level, everything has to go smooth. You have to ship well; you have to train well when you get there. Your horse has to break well, and he has to get in a nice rhythm. Everything has to—there’s so many little things involved. All I can do is get him ready as much as I can and then he has to do the rest of it. A lot of these horses you just have to depend on their heart to get you that little extra bit, so that’s when the horses really come in.
Ellen Hilts-Gossett: Well, do you think that going at it again being the only Grand Slam Triple Crown Breeders’ Cup winner will affect his status as stallion?
Bob Baffert: Oh, I don’t think it will affect his status—the thing about Pharoah is whether he won the Triple Crown or not is that he’s already shown what a brilliant racehorse he is. I’ve never had a horse that competed at this level for so long. And the way he’s shipped across, they just cannot sustain that like he can. We could’ve retired him, you know, after the Triple Crown. His status is at—it takes a brilliant, special racehorse that stands up to the Classic. It’s very demanding; the preps, everything, he’s just, like I said, he’s hickory. He’s already shown it. I just hope I get one more like him in my lifetime.
Ellen Hilts-Gossett: Well, the best of luck to you winning the Classic.
Bob Baffert: Thank you.
Operator: There are no further questions at this time.
Jim Gluckson: Thank you, everyone. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. Have a good afternoon.
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