NTRA Teleconference “Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships”
Trainer Mr. Jimmy Jerkens
Trainer Mr. Wesley Ward
Owner Mr. Richard Papiese
Jim Mulvihill: Thanks, everyone, for joining us today on this Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup call. This week we’re focusing on the final major weekend of the Breeders’ Cup preps. This is a huge weekend, of course, with Super Saturday at Belmont Park featuring seven graded stakes, including four Grade 1s headed by the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and also opening weekend at Keeneland Racecourse with nine graded stakes from Friday to Sunday, including a Grade 1 on each of those programs. There are 15 Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races to follow in the coming days; eight from Keeneland, four at Belmont, the Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Saturday, and three from Longchamp in Paris where there’s a spectacular card Sunday. Now please note that NBC Sports will be live at Keeneland and Belmont on both Saturday and Sunday from 5 to 6 p.m. Eastern Time.
So clearly this weekend is going to go a long way towards sorting out the contenders for the Breeders’ Cup. Later in this call we’ll be talking to the connections of two defending Breeders’ Cup and Eclipse Award champions: Wesley Ward, the trainer of defending Filly and Mare Sprint winner Judy the Beauty; and Richard Papiese, whose Midwest Thoroughbreds owned last year’s Sprint hero Work All Week.
But first we’re delighted to welcome a trainer with two shots in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Saturday, and that is Jimmy Jerkens. He’s got four-year-olds Wicked Strong as well as Effinex in a field that’s also likely to have Tonalist, Constitution, and Coach Inge.
Jimmy Jerkens, you’re on with Jim Mulvihill in Lexington. Thanks for joining us.
Jimmy Jerkens: Thank you.
Jim Mulvihill: We appreciate your time today. Let’s get to these two in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. They essentially finished the Woodward in tandem last time, third and fourth, but nobody really made up any ground on Liam’s Map. Can you just tell us how that race looks to you in retrospect in regards to your pair?
Jimmy Jerkens: Well, I think the race was probably a little better than it looked on paper. The track was as is on most Saturdays, it looked like they stirred it up a little bit, and after watching the first few dirt races on that Saturday I knew we were in trouble as far as beating Liam’s Map, because he had run against the grain and hung on very well in the race before that. The track on Woodward day had much more of a speed bias than it did the first time he ran. So I thought our two ran better than it looked on paper.
Jim Mulvihill: Yes, I would agree with that. Just tell us about since you’ve been back at Belmont now how they’ve progressed in the last few weeks in the morning?
Jimmy Jerkens: I’m happy with how they’re doing. They both had nice useful works one day apart. So Effinex had a—he worked a little faster in his first work after the Woodward than I wanted so we slowed him down a little bit and worked him a little further and slower the day before yesterday just to make sure he doesn’t get too—his fast works seem to rile him up a little bit. He worked a little too fast before the Woodward and as a result he got a little anxious a couple of minutes before post time and acted bad in the gate. So we’re just hoping that doesn’t happen again because it definitely takes away from his race when he’s not settled, as is the case with most horses.
Jim Mulvihill: Right, right. And Wicked Strong?
Jimmy Jerkens: He’s doing very good. I’m really happy with him. He worked nice the other day on his own very willingly, and he’s holding his flesh good for him and his color looks good and his attitude is good, so, you know, I expect a good race out of him. He’s—I thought he picked it up a little since Saratoga. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking, but I’m a pessimist at heart so any little bad thing I see I magnify it a hundred time over and I haven’t seen anything that—looking at him I haven’t seen anything that hasn’t been pleasing to my eye, so I’m pretty confident.
Jim Mulvihill: Excellent. Well, we’re going to trust your eye and hope that he has picked it up a little bit. Now, Jimmy, if you hold on for a second, I’m going to ask Michelle, the Operator, to check with the media on the line and we’ll see what questions they have for you.
Jimmy Jerkens: Okay.
Danny Brewer: Talk for a moment about Effinex and his Suburban win. What did that tell you about this horse? He seemed to overcome a lot of obstacles in that race.
Jimmy Jerkens: Yes, I mean everybody was getting especially pissed off and giving Tonalist, though a big excuse that he was ridden—he wasn’t ridden right by Johnny; that he moved way too soon. But our horse got the—I could see why Johnny did that because it looked like horses were making big outside moves—premature moves all day and doing very well, so he was just going by what he saw out there on that day. Our horse was moving in tandem with him and he went to the outside and we stayed on the inside and got stuck pretty bad and lost a couple of lengths of momentum right there, so I don’t think we—I think we were at just as big a disadvantage as Tonalist was. I wasn’t, you know, everyone said that we kind of lucked into the win, and I had to disagree with that because he ran hard all the way. He had to recover after being stopped, and ran—got going right away, which horses don’t usually do. A lot of the horses just throw in the towel after that happens, and he got right back into the bit and finished strong and just outgained them.
Danny Brewer: How has he moved forward from there, do you think?
Jimmy Jerkens: He’s done very well since he came back. Like I said, we—he surprised us on Woodward day. He had done everything right in the paddock and everything until a couple of minutes before and he got—that big crowd kind of got him riled up behind the gate and he acted really bad in the gate and then—and had to be reloaded and then broke really awkward as a result. That was a kind of day or race going against the horses you don’t really want to—even if your intentions aren’t to be close to the pace, you at least want to break with the field. But—and he broke a step or two slow and that certainly didn’t help him any. But I thought he ran very well to continue on to be fourth, beaten only six lengths. But, you know, he’s not just a New York bred, he’s a very good—and he’s a very good open (company) horse and I think people ought to be worried about him on Saturday.
John Pricci: A lot of us have been a little disappointed with Wicked Strong’s campaign so far this year. I was wondering how you felt about it, and, you know, the theories being I guess that, you know, some horses don’t make quite the transition from three to four, or the other side of the coin is that, the three-year-old campaign he had was rather strenuous and maybe that took a little bit of toll. Tell me what you think about Wicked Strong’s season and what has caused it either positive or negatively?
Jimmy Jerkens: Well, you’re right. He did have a tough three-year-old campaign, but I thought stopping him after the Jockey Club, you know, because we thought so, too, we didn’t even consider the Breeders’ Cup. Then we thought we gave him, you know, we gave him a good part of the winter and he just didn’t come back like we had hoped, so for whatever reason I don’t really know. I like how he looks better this last half of this year. I’ve liked how he’s looked physically more than I did earlier in the year. I’m still hopeful that he can give us that one good race that we need out of him. So, you know, he’s relatively lightly raced compared to last year, so we’re hoping he’s got another good one in him.
John Pricci: Okay. I mean, you know, some horses are, you know, spring horses or fall horses and they just get better at different times of the year. Has he shown you any indication that that could be the case? You know, you said that he pleased you coming out of Saratoga. What might have helped him turn the corner?
Jimmy Jerkens: It’s hard to put a finger on why they turn the corner, but I thought he did—I thought he looked better physically and was a little more into his races early in Saratoga, which I thought was a good sign. Up to that point he’d been falling out of the gate any old way he pleased and just wasn’t picking up the bridle, but I thought I saw a kind of renewed interest by his being closer to the pace in his two races in Saratoga than he had been prior. So I think he’s a better horse now than he was a few months ago.
Jennie Rees: Yes, Jimmy. What do you have to see out of both of these horses for them to earn a trip to Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup Classic?
Jimmy Jerkens: Well, they’ll probably have to run better than they ever did, that’s for sure, you know, especially Wicked Strong. He hasn’t really—he hasn’t really come to the fore. Like Effinex has had brilliant races and then he’s had mediocre races in between whereas Wicked’s races have been basically the same, although I think his last two races were a little better and a little more on the upswing than before Saratoga, so we’re just hoping he’s reaching his four-year-old peak at the right time.
Jennie Rees: Yes, I mean the three-year-olds last year looked so strong and the way they finished in the Classic and everything else, and then you look at, you know, Bayern, who, you know, what, 0/5, 0/6 this year and now retired and all that. I mean is it just hard to really know what the campaign from these three-year-olds have taken out of them or is it more complex than that?
Jimmy Jerkens: Yes, no, you never know until you run them back. You know, like it’s like trying to run a horse back close together. They’ll fool you. You know, you’ll think, wow, this horse came out of the race great, he’s eating everything up and feeling good, and then you go run him back in a week or 10 days and he does horrible and you feel like an idiot because you knew you shouldn’t have done I, but they fool you. You know, you just—that’s the way horses are. You can’t really read their minds. They used to show it a lot more. Horses used to show it a lot more in the way they act around the barn, like they’d be sulking in the stall, they’d get off their feet, they’d get off color. Now it seems that recently in later years it’s been—it’s almost as they’re tricking more people because they just don’t seem to be showing the signs they did years ago until you send them over there. I don’t know if Lasix—Lasix has probably a lot more to do with horses’ performance than people think. They don’t—horses don’t always react to Lasix the same way. Sometimes they’ll run good off it, but if the next time they run they’re a little—they’re not hydrated as good as they were the time before that it might be a detriment to them. So, you know, as Lasix as good as it can help horses, I think it can, you know, I think it can do the opposite, and I think that’s why horses’ form these days are a lot more inconsistent than they used to be.
Jennie Rees: Interesting. I know Honor Code’s going in a different race, but your thoughts on Honor Code? I know this is what we do in the media looking ahead more than you guys do, but—to the idea of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Is it a lot more wide open than some people would think with just sort of the big emphasis on the big three in American Pharoah, Honor Code and the mare?
Jimmy Jerkens: Yes, well I could see Shug running them in the mile race as opposed to this one—I think he thinks he’ll stay fresher just running the mile, and just hoping that he gets a good fast pace to run at in the Classic. I think it’s a good move on Shug’s part to do that. You know, like you say, the rest of us aside of the big three we’re just trying to earn our spot and see if we can—everybody—just get lucky and maybe get a piece of it or, you know, it’s just one of the—it’s a crapshoot at the end of the year. You just hope your horse is sound enough and strong enough at the time. Any horse can win it; anything at the end of the year. You know, a lot of—especially—some fillies will go—some fillies will go off in the fall a lot more than the colts will just because of the—just because of the seasons and everything, Beholder, she still has to prove herself outside of California. I would not go to the Breeders’ Cup because of Beholder, —just because she hasn’t shipped around and done a lot of that, but believe me, it’s plenty tough. We’ve got to be—everybody’s got to be lucky to get a piece of it.
Jennie Rees: Yes. Well, what about American Pharoah? You said you wouldn’t, you know…?
Jimmy Jerkens: Yes, well…
Jennie Rees: You said it’s a reason not to go. I mean he’s never faced an older horse group and he did get beaten his last race.
Jimmy Jerkens: Yes, but —I still wouldn’t hold that against him. He’s still a very good horse. I mean —what he’s done is incredible by today’s standard. So unless he’s gone backwards from the Travers, I think he’s too good a horse for that, I would—I’d still be really scared of him. He’s just too good a horse. So he’s too good a horse to think that he could even go the other way. He could even go the other way a little more and still be tough to beat, that’s how good a horse he is.
Jennie Rees: I mean in your mind is he the horse to beat over say even Honor Code?
So now we’re going to go onto the next guest, Wesley Ward. Wesley has four horses that we know of that are pointing to the opening weekend stakes at Keeneland. Those are the 2014 Eclipse Award winner, Judy the Beauty, going in the Thoroughbred Club of America, that’s a race that she won two years ago; The Great War in the Woodford for turf sprinters; and also we should not be surprised he’s got some talented two-year-olds in Sheikh of Sheikhs and Gaultier . Now we’re going to see if we’ve been able to connect with Wesley Ward. Michelle, any luck getting Wesley Ward on the line?
Jim Mulvihill: Wesley Ward, are you with us?
Wesley Ward: Forever.
Jim Mulvihill: All right. There we go.
Wesley Ward: If I’m not with you I’m against you, so I’m with you.
Jim Mulvihill: All right, well we’re glad to hear it. Thanks for joining us. It’s Jim Mulvihill calling you from the NTRA offices in Lexington, and we’ve got some media assembled on this call as well so we appreciate your time today.
Wesley Ward: Well, thank you very much for having me.
Jim Mulvihill: Yes, of course. You’ve got several in at Keeneland this weekend in the stakes on opening weekend, although I guess the place to start would be with Judy the Beauty. We always are anxious to hear an update on her. She’s been here in Lexington for a couple months now and firing bullets almost on a weekly basis. Can you just tell us how she’s doing and what you expect to see from her on Saturday?
Jim Mulvihill: Yes, and tell us about how she’s been working here in Lexington? I mean on paper the works look spectacular.
Wesley Ward: Yes, well that’s her home track, and, you know, she’s been training there her whole life, and just, you know, I kind of held back and been waiting for this meet to come up and really excited about what’s going to happen here—or hopefully what’s going to happen here this week and also for the Breeders’ Cup.
Jim Mulvihill: Yes, and you say you’ve been holding back, so tell us about her campaign this year. It’s been light, but I would say that’s been by design. Is it safe to assume that?
Wesley Ward: Yes. You know, I, you know, she’s a six-year-old mare. You know, more likely than not with anybody else training her or owning her, more so than training, owning, they would’ve made the decision to retire her. But I made the decision to sort of continue on based on the Breeders’ Cup being at her home track of Keeneland that she’s trained since when she was purchased as a yearling and then trained from a two-year-old until now. So I just kind of feel like I’ve got a home court advantage, and she’s undefeated at Keeneland and hopefully remains that way.
Jim Mulvihill: Very good. Well, Wesley, hold on for a second and we’re going to see what the media has for you. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of questions not only about Judy the Beauty but some of your other stable stars and these two-year-old stakes as well. Michelle?
Danny Brewer: What is it about Keeneland do you think that makes it so attractive for Beauty, because she has been beautiful there. Like you said, she’s been undefeated. Is there something about the surface or the length of the home stretch, or what is it do you think?
Wesley Ward: None of the above. I just think that, you know, she been training there her whole life. So it’s just like when you come home you just feel really comfortable. It’s also like she’s been—like if they played the Chicago Bulls at home with Michael Jordan playing he’d have a huge advantage, as any team does when they play at home. It’s like they’re coming to my horse’s house to play the game. So I just think that’s where we’re at with her and that’s the reason why she’s run so well.
Danny Brewer: Okay, Undrafted, you know, Wes Welker is the owner. You know, they say sometimes like that a dog and the owner kind of have the same characteristics. Do you think that’s the same with the horse and the owner here, because Undrafted is kind of like Welker; gritty, been out there a lot and makes a lot of plays? What’s your thoughts?
Wesley Ward: They’re similar in some ways and not in the other. Like this guy kind of—when he leaves his home base at Keeneland he falls apart, you know. Judy, she thrives everywhere you go. But this particular horse, as soon as he leaves his stall at Keeneland to go run at whatever jurisdiction or track or country that it is, he kind of gets off his speed. So I’ve got to time it to where, you know, he leaves and the race is really close to from the time he ships from Keeneland. But when he’s there and he’s in it with me, you know, when you’re fighting against him, I mean even though he’s a little bugger he’s going to fight like he’s a 240 pound man. You know, he’s a real fighter.
Danny Brewer: Obviously, (inaudible) is at Keeneland and the Turf Sprint is kind of made to order for him, do you feel like?
Wesley Ward: You know, the race is a little short. Five and a half is just a little short for him. But being at his home track, as well as like Judy, it hopefully can make up the difference, and as well as his jockey, Frankie Dettori, is just a magician, and the horses just always seem to be in the right places. And always when he’s on them as far as what he’s rode for me they’ve always raised their game a peg, so I’m hoping that, you know, that the seas part and we’re able to shoot right through and hopefully win.
Frank Angst: If somebody based at Keeneland with this still new—relatively new dirt surface, just what’s your opinion of it and have you seen any quirks in it or biases in terms of race position or rail position, anything like that going into the Breeders’ Cup?
Wesley Ward: No, I think it’s going to be very fair. You know, they’ve had a year to work with it now. You know, when it first got set in there sometime these new tracks they take a little time to adjust to where they get kind of smoothed out. I think it’s going to be very fair. You know, it’s great that the Breeders’ Cup is coming right at the end of the meet where, you know, they’ll have the whole meet to work on it if—or adjust it, as you said. So I don’t think there’ll be any speed biases or closer biases or inside or outside. I think they’ll have it a very level playing field.
Frank Angst: Keeneland’s one of the few tracks that has different finish lines. Is that something you just trust a professional jockey to remember or do you kind of remind him a little bit maybe as you’re saddling? What’s your approach on that?
Wesley Ward: You know, the guys I generally ride are all famous. I mean those are the guys I kind of stick to; the guys that I’ve, you know, rode with and passed before I was a jockey, and now, you know, they’ve been riding for me for years and years as a trainer, so it’s something that it really doesn’t even have to be said.
Jim Mulvihill: I wanted to ask about Green Mask. He ran well off the layoff at Kentucky Downs. But I’m assuming the Turf Sprint would be a goal for Green Mask and he’ll be a little bit sharper two starts off the layoff maybe?
Wesley Ward: Yes. Yes, we gave him a little time, and I always do that when I go to Dubai. It seems to take a little zip out of the horses, so I give them a little extra time to bounce back from it. I had that race at Kentucky Downs planned for him. He—I think he ran a really good race. Unfortunately, the turf was really, really deep and soggy that day and he kind of prefers a track that he can get a hold of and get over real quick. He still ran a big, big race that day and he came out of the race and worked really, really good the other day at Keeneland against The Great War, who is going to be running Saturday…
Jim Mulvihill: Right.
Wesley Ward: And I mean you couldn’t really tell which one was better. So I really look forward to the Breeders’ Cup. I think he’s going to fire a corker.
Jim Mulvihill: Interesting. Well, glad to hear that. I’m wondering if you can just tell us a little bit about the two year olds that you’ll have in the stakes this weekend? I know Sheik of Sheiks there was still some discussion as to which race.
Wesley Ward: Yes, he kind of works like a—or gallops like a grass horse so I just kind of wanted to try him on the grass and see how he moved over it, and he really—I mean he’s got another option, you know, because he loved it. He’s a very good horse, but I mean he—the way he moved over the grass was unbelievable. I’ve had horses in the past that haven’t so much had the breeding for the grass but yet you put them on it and all of a sudden away they go; one being Unfinished Symph. He had no turf breeding whatsoever but the best horse I ever trained early on in my career and he was just narrowly beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and he was pedigreed on both top and bottom were dirt all the way, and as soon as I put him on the grass he just took to it like a fish to water. This guy might be a little bit the same. You know, I think he’d be very tough in either race, and we’ll see how they kind of shake out and I’ll let the owner kind of come in and help with the decision. But as of right now, it looks like we’re going to go Saturday in the Futurity.
Jim Mulvihill: I imagine that part of the—part of that decision would have to be because you have another talented horse in the Turf race already in Gaultier?
Wesley Ward: No, no, no, no.
Jim Mulvihill: No?
Wesley Ward: Gaultier nominated him and I worked him on the grass. He loves the grass already. But I think he’s going to need a little bit more time. He’s coming off the mile race down in Kentucky Downs and he really had a big effort that day; it was kind of a really deep track as well. I generally for the most part like to give my horses well over a month from start to start, and especially a two-year-old that ran his first time going a mile, which I think this guy’s going to need a little more time.
Jim Mulvihill: Okay, excellent. Well, we’re happy to hear that Sheikh of Sheikhs is doing so well and we’ll look forward to seeing him and all of these great horses this weekend and also further down in the Breeders’ Cup. So, Wesley, I just want to thank you for your time today and we’ll look forward to seeing you soon.
Wesley Ward: Thank you very much.
Jim Mulvihill: All right, Wesley Ward, trainer of Judy the Beauty and several other stakes caliber horses that we’re going to get to see on the opening weekend at Keeneland.
Now we get to move on to the final guest of this call and that is Richard Papiese of Midwest Thoroughbreds. Richard and his wife Karen have about 350 horses at any given time under the Midwest Thoroughbreds banner. Since 2003 they’ve won nearly 2,300 races, including 167 this year to date, which puts them on track to be the nation’s leading owner by wins for the sixth straight year. Their two stable stars are both Illinois-breds: Breeders’ Cup Sprint Champion Work All Week, and Arlington Million hero The Pizza Man. Both of them are entered at Keeneland this weekend; The Pizza Man in the Shadwell Turf Mile, and Work All Week in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix.
Richard, it’s Jim Mulvihill at NTRA headquarters in Lexington. Thanks for being here.
Richard Papiese: It’s a pleasure.
Jim Mulvihill: We’re so glad to have you on to talk about these two horses, especially as popular as they are. So maybe you could just start by telling us what it’s like for you right now getting to the end of the year and owning two such massively talented and—massively talented horses, but also them both being home-breds of yours?
Richard Papiese: It’s hard to describe. I mean it’s great. Obviously it would be great for anybody. Yes, I don’t know if I could put words—that words can describe it. I mean to win the Arlington Million and to win the Breeders’ Cup last year and to be in a position to have a shot to do that again this year, it’s all good; just tickled.
Jim Mulvihill: Excellent.
Richard Papiese: It’s the only way to describe it.
Jim Mulvihill: Yes, yes. Well, you know, knowing that both of these horses have bigger goals here for the end of the year, be it the Breeders’ Cup or Japan, what are you hoping to see this weekend at Keeneland? I mean are these races preps for the bigger goals? Tell me what you hope to get out of these races this weekend?
Richard Papiese: I mean you go into every race trying to win the race because obviously you want to do what’s best for the horse and come out of there. The biggest thing is for the horse to come out of the race good, everyone to be safe, but beyond that you want to go to post and try to win the race. So obviously there’ll be more emphasis for Work All Week, not to shrug the Shadwell, that would be incredible, but I mean he’s in the position where he may need this race to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup. We’re not sure, but you don’t know how it’s going to shake out. We might as well—the best thing is, you know, you actually control your own destiny here. If you win the race you’re in the Breeders’ Cup. If he’s okay, you’re going. On the other hand, The Pizza Man is already in the Breeders’ Cup. It would be nice to win the Shadwell and we think we could even though it’s a cut back and people are going to think that, gee, why are we running him a mile. Well, he holds the track record at Arlington for a mile. People forget when he was a young horse that’s what he ran.
Jim Mulvihill: Yes.
Richard Papiese: So he can go anywhere from a mile to forever. So it really doesn’t matter. I mean he’ll be just fine even though it’s a stellar group I’m sure. I haven’t seen it, but I’m sure it’ll be a stellar group tomorrow when they draw, and the whole objective is to get a race over this course and have targets to run at and hopefully get the job done.
Jennie Rees: Yes, Rich, how do (inaudible) geldings and those who were not nominated as babies to the Breeders’ Cup, and I’m wondering if you’ve changed your philosophy at all in either of those things with the success of these horses?
Richard Papiese: Yes, that’ll be more up to Jim Shank (phon). I mean he’ll—he basically takes care of all the blood stock right now and we’re buying more than breeding. We had a pretty good Keeneland sale. It’ll be up to him. He’ll make those decisions and we won’t hesitate to supplement him when we have to, but, yes, no, more horses will be nominated. When you take a look back, I mean we had so many home-breds, I can’t really fault the farm or anyone else. It’s one of those things where they were very unsure as far as who is going to be where when they’re moving along that young, so I’ll take the—I’ll fully take the blame for that for them not being supplemented earlier. So, yes, we’ll be supplementing more horses. We will be supplementing the horses that we do feel belong earlier; definitely.
Jennie Rees: I see. And the fact that obviously these were Illinois-breds and now you’ve pretty much pulled out of Chicago, will you reevaluate who you foal in Illinois or is that part of, like you were saying, you’re starting to line them up?
Richard Papiese: We’re down to a handful of mares that are in Kentucky right now. I want to say we have three solid mares out of a broodmare band of about 40 something when we started, and, again, Jim Shank is over there and he makes those decisions. We do talk, but I mean it’s—when we empower somebody—when we—it wouldn’t make any sense for him not to be empowered to make those decisions if we’ve given him the ability to do that. So we’ll sit down. We’re trying to look—as we buy better horses now, we’re trying to look for some fillies that are going to have some residual value as foundation mares later on.
Jennie Rees: Sometimes in the (inaudible) you’ve won (inaudible), and I think since 2010 you’ve been either first or second in the country. But there’s—obviously there is an emphasis on quality. Was there sort of the seminal moment when you said, you know, winning all these races—having all these horses and winning all these races is great but maybe there’s something else we want to do?
Richard Papiese: Yes, no, it gets to the point—(inaudible) love the business, love the industry, and that—it just gets to the point where you have—you’re responsible, and I feel you’re responsible for everything that goes through your barn. So when it’s time to retire all these horses and find other jobs for them, it’s a full time commitment there, and we want to do everything the right way and we always have, and it got to the point where it’s just overwhelming. We’re active in the company that we own so it’s like a second job, which I love to have it, but at the same time there’s only so many hours in the day. I don’t feel like an action junkie where I have to have something or we have to have something happening constantly. The emphasis has been on quality for a little bit. It just takes, as I told everybody the last year and change, it’s going to take awhile. I mean we’re not turning around a jet ski; we’re turning a barge. But we are true to our word. We are doing that. I mean it will happen. You will see it hopefully, you know, with the right folks that are calling the shots and things will be good. And I believe they will. I believe we have the right people.
Jennie Rees: Well, the last four years you’ve been I think I want to say runner-up for the Eclipse Award as Owner, and three of those years the Ramseys beat you. Now we know Mr. Ramsey’s very goal-oriented and really keeps a lot of score (phon) boards and things like that. Are you that goal-oriented? I mean is that something that you would really put an emphasis on trying to be the Eclipse Owner?
Richard Papiese: No, I’m not worried about winning awards. I’m worried about winning races and doing things the right way. If we do that, the awards kind of come by the way from that. But it’s really not important. I don’t mean to demean the award. To me a personal award doesn’t mean a whole lot, but for the horse, yes, I am big on that. I love to see the horses win awards and things like that because they deserve them, whoever they are, if they’re ours or whoevers’. But for us to be Owner of the Year, I could—I know it’s going to sound crazy, but I really don’t care about that.
Jennie Rees: Last question from me, but these two horses when they were babies, I mean what sort of expectations would you have had, say, you know, if you (inaudible)?
Richard Papiese: Well, there still were high expectations when they—there were high expectations when they both came to the track. We had so many horses at the farm we were following, and I believe horses got shuffled and they didn’t get to the track early if you take a look at when they started. But, you know, the first time Roger that he ran The Pizza Man, and he ran—let me think—the first time he ran Work All Week, first of all, he ran the horse on the grass long if I recall, and he was like—he was out of Danzig’s mare so we believed that he could sprint on the grass. He was green and he looked like he had grass pedigree with City Zip to do anything. So after that when we put him sprinting on dirt, I—when they worked him in the morning they knew he was something special. It was kind of the same thing with The Pizza Man. We knew he had something, it was just going to take a long time for him to mature and we had to be very patient. It’s kind of odd because Jim Miller worked for us for part of the year, and he made a statement that was kind of funny. There were three-year-olds and he said The Pizza Man’s going to win the Arlington Million and Work All Week’s going to win the Breeders’ Cup. Well, he was just time in front of himself; that was all. The horses need to tell you when they need to be where they—when they’re going to be what they are.
Jennie Rees: Yes.
Richard Papiese: But as far as (inaudible), he deserves that comment I just made. I mean he saw that right away that these were special horses, and when the guys got off the horses they said the same thing. The folks that were working them in the morning they said, man, especially Work All Week at that time it was like—he was like—it was like Shaq playing with eighth graders.
Jennie Rees: Well, great. Well, thank you so much.
Richard Papiese: Thank you.
Richard Papiese: Sorry to sound nervous. I’m not really good at this Q&A thing.
Jim Mulvihill: So far so good.
Richard Papiese: I’m trying. I’ll do my best I can for you. That’s all I can do.
Jim Mulvihill: Well, hey, you’re doing a lot better than you’re trainer. I mean the times I’ve talked to Roger Brueggemann, it’s hard to get anything out of him. So maybe you could tell us a little bit about Roger?
Richard Papiese: I don’t think he means anything by it. I mean Roger’s whole commitment is to the horses. I mean he’s all about the horses and he doesn’t like to take away from them, and you’ll notice that when we’re watching a race or whatever and we’ll try to find a quiet place to watch the race. We’ll celebrate a little bit if we—if we’re victorious, and then time to worry about what’s going on next. I mean that’s how he’s put together.
Jim Mulvihill: Yes, yes.
Richard Papiese: He’s pretty simple, not a whole lot of words; very humble. Not obstinate or anything, just very humble and to himself.
Danny Brewer: Hey, Richard. For whatever it’s worth, I think you’re doing great, man. Shaq versus eighth graders, hey man, that’s a good one right there. So that’s a very good (inaudible).
Richard Papiese: Well, I sure didn’t mean any disrespect to any of the other horses, it was just that he was kind of a beast when he was young. He just did it so effortlessly and everyone that got on him said that it was—they felt like they were going for the ride of their life in the morning.
Danny Brewer: Right, exactly. Hey, talk for a moment about Florent Geroux and what he’s done and what you think of that kid?
Richard Papiese: Well, I think the world of him. I mean we’ve been with him since he started and when he came to Chicago. I mean we were on him the first call-in . You know, we—obviously you go through some changes in your life where you’re apart for a little while for whatever the reasons are, but Florent’s like part of our family—well, I shouldn’t say like, Florent’s part of our family. If you ask him he’ll tell you the same thing. We’ll have conversations a couple times a week and they don’t necessarily have to be out racing all the time. You know, I’m glad to see things are going well for him, not just in our camp, all over. I mean he’s—he was just waiting to happen. I always told (inaudible) as soon as—and I told Doug the same thing, when his mind catches up with his body, look out, because he has the skill sets already. He has ice water in his veins. It was just a question of the reactions will come eventually. And they’re here. You know, he’s one of the—he’s got to be one of the top jockeys in the country right now if not the hottest jockey.
Danny Brewer: The Pizza Man, you know, he seemed to always deliver. He had—won five of the first six then had a five race winning streak; on a three race winning streak right now. Do you think he may be a little bit underappreciated across the board?
Richard Papiese: I don’t know.
Danny Brewer: What’s your thoughts?
Richard Papiese: I don’t know about that. I don’t buy into any of that. The thing is he’s honest. Florent will tell you, you know, the last two races he had probably moved him a little bit too early; you know, with the longer stretches. We felt like we could’ve won either one of those races, but it is what it is. It’s racing. The time before that, the first ship into Woodbine, he really didn’t appreciate the shipping. It was all new to him and he freaked out and he didn’t eat for five days—for four or five days before the race. He ate a little snack the night before he started to settle down. So we led a horse over—there was physically nothing wrong with him, but, you know, thinking back, Roger and I spoke, we weren’t sure if we would—under those conditions if we’d run the horse again. I mean he was carrying plenty of horse flesh, he looked great, but, you know, if you imagine you’re going to run a marathon and you haven’t eaten for four days, what do you think is going to happen? Probably not good things. So we like to go back and reevaluate, because we like to believe that—not just like to believe, we do do the right things for the horses no matter what, and it felt like that maybe we were asking too much out of him that day, you know, when he didn’t ship well.
So we changed procedures when he went back to Woodbine. We sent him there over a week early and he did finally settle in so he was okay for the race, and then we felt we moved a little early. But, you know, we might have a tired horse by the end of the year. You know, he (inaudible) another when he went to Del Mar, and it maybe was a little bit too much for him at that time.
But he’s learned to ship better right now, but part of the reason for running him in the Shadwell, I really—not I, but Roger and I spoke and we talked about why take the chance on shipping him to Belmont or to (inaudible) we looked at. We didn’t want to train him for the race because he really needs to run. He’s jonesing to run. So it’s one of those things he could hurt himself just waiting for the Breeders’ Cup. I mean you’ve got to run. The thought of running a mile and a half race if we were to go to Belmont, then running another mile and a half race, and then running another mile and a half race in Japan, I thought that was asking a whole lot of the horse. Right now he’s been only slightly raced for the year. We talked it over and we came back with the Shadwell. We kept coming back to it. There were three of us that really went through it. It was a combination of Roger and myself and with Florent we talked it through and we felt like, you know, he was good for a mile anyway and he’ll get more out of this race than he would going somewhere else.
Danny Brewer: You mentioned his proficiency at the mile distance. Depending on what happens in the Shadwell, could he maybe be a Breeders’ Cup Miler instead of the Turf Race on Breeders’ Cup day?
Richard Papiese: I wouldn’t totally rule it out, but I would say at this point we’d be looking to the mile and a half race. It kind of suits him a little bit better. It would depend on how the races come up. Hopefully we’re talking about he has those options. I mean if everything—if the stars align that would be just great, but I would say probably a good excuse to run a rematch with Kitten’s Joy—or the Kitten’s Joy horse called Big Blue Kitten and all the other great horses.
Eric Mitchell: Hi, Richard. I would also agree you’re doing a good job, so thank you for taking the time to talk with us today.
Richard Papiese: It’s my pleasure.
Eric Mitchell: My question, you had mentioned that early on you kind of had—you had expected The Pizza Man was going to take some time to develop and mature. Was that just what you expected out of the family or was it just something in just how he was developing and how he was going through training that you knew he was just going to need a little extra time?
Richard Papiese: Well, to be more specific about how we do things, we talk about how the horses tell us what’s time and where to be and all that, and it looks like we’re running him soft. We’re not. They’re kind of telling us. You can see that he needed to—he was always a big horse. He was a lean horse, though. He needed to put on some horse flesh. If you take a look at him this year, he’s filled out a lot more. The—it wasn’t about the light bulb going on; the light bulb was always on. It was more about getting him to grow into himself. He’s there right now (inaudible) on course and he’s happy and he’s going about his business. I think because of the way Roger does things has a lot to do with the way he is and where he’s at right now. If we push him too early, I don’t think we’re anywhere.
Eric Mitchell: I don’t think there’s any question that he has really stepped up his game significantly this year, and that you attribute to just his body and his mind all catching up and kind of hitting their peak at the same time?
Richard Papiese: Well, yes, and they did a great job. We—I mean, again, we kind of were done conventional. We gave him quite a bit of time off. But the thing was Roger was at Oaklawn and we’d have lost a lot of training with him anyway, so we felt that it was better to give him extra time. He had a big layoff as did Work All Week, and The Pizza Man prospered more from the workout—I’m sorry, from the layoff more than Work All Week. Work All Week wants to run all the time. The Pizza Man was just chilling. He’s got a different personality. He actually enjoyed his time on the farm. He came back—Carlos Gonzalez who runs the farm did an excellent job of getting him ready, and Roger said that he—it was kudos to Carlos he never came back like that before, you know, when he’d given him time. Not that Work All Week didn’t come back great, it was just The Pizza Man really came back great.
Eric Mitchell: One more question. You know, obviously…
Richard Papiese: Sure.
Eric Mitchell: You guys have a lot invested in the Illinois program, and a lot of what we’re seeing going on in Illinois is not very encouraging. Do you have any observations on the state of racing in Illinois right now?
Richard Papiese: I’m kind of sick, to be honest with you. I mean I grew up on the south side of Chicago. The first race track that I ever went to was the old Washington Park. I almost got hit by a hook and ladder coming from my aunt and uncle’s apartment complex in Homewood the day that Washington burnt down. A lot of ties. The first race ever—that we ever ran was the Arlington back in 2001. It’s just—I don’t know what to say. I don’t see anything going the right way, though. I don’t see the people that need to get involve getting involved. It’s not about the horsemen right now it’s about the politicians, and I think they have—they feel like they have more important things to do. It’s a shame.
Eric Mitchell: All right.
Richard Papiese: I wish we were—I wish could be—I’m sorry.
Eric Mitchell: Yes, I’m sure you wish you had a lot more positive things to say.
Richard Papiese: Yes, I wish I could tell you it’s going to be great here. I want it to be. I’ve got friends here. I started with all these people 15 or 16 years ago and it sickens me to see them in this position more than me. I’m able to move around and do things I want even though I’d rather have a string at home. If Roger didn’t want to leave–nobody wants to leave where you home is. So we’ll just think good thoughts and pray and hopefully things will be okay or get better.
Jim Mulvihill: Okay, Richard, just one follow-up for you. You had said before that the Japan Cup was a possibility for The Pizza Man assuming he maintains his form through the Breeders’ Cup. Is that something you all are still thinking about?
Richard Papiese: Well, he’s actually in the Japan Cup. I mean he was—basically we cut the deal the day after the—the day of the Arlington Million after the race. But however, how he’s performing and how he comes back, it doesn’t matter if they want him or not, if he’s not right he’s not going. If he’s sound, and he is 100% sound right now and he’s happy and everything’s going well, if he feels like running he’s going. But if for any reason anything changes then obviously he wouldn’t be going to Japan. The horse comes first, what an honor (Japan Cup).
Jim Mulvihill: Can you just tell us what an honor (inaudible) about that spot, but I mean beyond the money?
Richard Papiese: Well, the money’s great, but you know what, the idea of representing the United States, I mean while it’s very heavy it’s also what an honor when you think about it. I mean to go over there and represent all the horsemen and to represent the country, it’s just very special to do that.
Jim Mulvihill: Indeed. Well, Richard, thanks for your time today. Will we see you at Keeneland this weekend?
Richard Papiese: Absolutely. We’ll be there on both days.
Jim Mulvihill: Very good. Well, thanks again for the time. Really great stuff and we’ll look forward to seeing you at Keeneland.
Richard Papiese: Thank you. Thank you very much. I hope you all have a great day.
Jim Mulvihill: Absolutely. So there you have it, Richard Papiese of Midwest Thoroughbreds telling us that The Pizza Man is jonesing to run this weekend, and we’ll look forward to seeing that. Our thanks once again also to Jimmy Jerkens and Wesley Ward. We’ll be back in a few weeks for our annual Breeders’ Cup Preview call. That’s on Pre-entry Day, October 21, which is a Wednesday. With that, I’m going to send it back to our Operator, Michelle. Thanks, everyone.