Road to the Breeders Cup Teleconference for Aug. 20
Road to the Breeders Cup Teleconference for Aug. 20
Jim Mulvihill: Thank you members of the media for joining us on today’s call. We’ve got a slew of important stakes coming up this weekend. Let’s run down them real quick. At Saratoga, Friday’s Ballerina for female sprinters was drawn yesterday. Tomorrow they’ll draw for four major stakes on Saturday – the Grade 2 Ballston Spa for turf females, and then three Grade 1 events: the Test for three year old fillies going 7 furlongs, the Foxwoods King’s Bishops for tree year olds also at seven-eighths, and, of course, the meet’s signature race, the Travers, for three year olds at one and a quarter miles. On Sunday at Saratoga they’ll run the Grade 1 Personal Ensign for older females at a mile and an eighth.
Out west at Del Mar, the graded stakes kick off Saturday with the Del Mar Handicap for older turf horse. Then on Sunday it’s Pacific Classic Day; three graded stakes all for older horses, including the Pat O’Brien for sprinters, the Del Mar Mile on turf, and then the meet’s centerpiece, the Grade 1 $1 million TVG Pacific Classic.
Five of this weekend’s major American stakes for older horses are part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge. That’s what we all know as the Win and You’re In races. That’s the Ballerina, the Del Mar Handicap, the Pat O’Brien, the Personal Ensign, and the Pacific Classic.
Now before we get to today’s guests, a few reminders for you. The Travers and the King’s Bishop will be featured on Saturday’s latest installment of “Summer at Saratoga” on NBC; that’s 4:30 to 6 Eastern. And note that that’s NBC not the NBC Sports Network.
Our friends from the Horse Racing Radio Network will be live at Saratoga all weekend; Friday 5 to 6 p.m., Saturday 4 to 6 p.m., and Sunday 5 to 6 p.m. That’s over the air in Kentucky and elsewhere on Sirius, XM, or online at horseracingradio.net.
Now, without further ado, let’s get to today’s guests; three of the biggest names in thoroughbred racing, and all of them Hall of Fame trainers. Later on we’ll have Shug McGaughey, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner, Orb, and Bill Mott, trainer of the nation’s top older female, Royal Delta. But first, we’ll chat with Bob Baffert, trainer of six time Grade 1 winner, Game On Dude.
Baffert has trained three winners of the Pacific Classic. This weekend he goes for a fourth with two horses, not just Game On Dude, the top older horse in the nation, but also Liaison. Earlier on Sunday’s card he’s going to have two sprinters for the Pat O’Brien. Those are Fed Biz and Drill. And also we’ll be sure to get an update on Paynter, the miracle horse, pointing to the August 31st Woodward at Saratoga.
Bob Baffert, you’re on with Jim Mulvihill in New York. Thanks for joining us.
Bob Baffert: Nice to be on.
Jim Mulvihill: All right. Well, Game On Dude worked yesterday in :59 and 3, and we heard a lot of very positive reports about that move. Can you just tell us your impressions of that work?
Bob Baffert: Yes, he actually worked very well. He’s actually handling the synthetic much better than he has in the past. It’s a little bit, in the mornings a little bit tighter, but he’s been moving really well over it. Maybe he’s getting used to it or whatever, but I just loved the way he went over the track. He galloped out very strong. He’s happy. He looks really healthy right now, and he just couldn’t be doing any better right now. I’m very confident that he’s going to—he’s shooting on a big race, and so we’re just looking forward to it.
Jim Mulvihill: That’s great to hear. Now one of the big stories coming into this race has been Mike Smith, who elected to ride Royal Delta at Saratoga on Sunday. You picked up Joel Rosario for Game On Dude. When you have a veteran professional horse like this, is a new rider any concern at all?
Bob Baffert: Well, with the Mike Smith situation I knew we might have that day, knew it would come. You know, there’s always a woman involved, and it was her. They’ve got to go with the woman, I can’t blame him there. He has more history with that filly, being the champion and all, and I really couldn’t blame—it was really tough on Mike. But it’s one of those things when a new rider jumps on there you’re a little bit—there’s always that, maybe—if they’ll get along, but one thing about Rosario, he’s very good on the lead. This horse, there’s only one way to go. You’re going have to just put him up on the lead and you just can’t worry about anything else, so there’s not going to be a lot of thinking going on there. Just get him out of the gate, put him on the lead and get him to relax as best as you can and you just can’t worry about anything else.
Bryce Miller: Yes, Bob, two quick questions. One, can you talk about that Dullahan’s back in this field? Can you talk about last year’s race and strategically does that change anything, and how do you feel about both horses being, you know, one, two from last year back in this race?
Bob Baffert: Well, I actually saw Dullahan on the track for the first time since last year, and he looked really good on the track today. So I think if those two horses—those are the two horses. I mean Dullahan, he really moves up on synthetic, and the way that he ran last year—I really thought I couldn’t lose last year and he caught us, so he’s basically the horse that worries me the most in the field. He’s beat us before, he likes synthetic, he’s a good horse, and so that’s the horse that I’m afraid of.
Bryce Miller: What—and the second part of that, what—did you have any relationship with owner Jerry Crawford, and trainer Dale Romans? Do you know those guys very well, or Dale, and could you characterize that relationship if there is one?
Bob Baffert: I know Dale really well. You know, the only time I see Dale is when we’re at the big races or whatever. Jerry, I’ve met him. They’re a pretty good group and they’ve had a lot of good luck, but the only time I see those guys is when we meet up against each other.
Danny Brewer: As good as Game On Dude has been throughout his career, does he need this specific classic to kind of validate himself, because this will give him the California Triple Crown? And he’s been here 0 for 2, so does he need this race to validate himself, do you think?
Bob Baffert: Well, I think that—I don’t really know about validation. I think he’s a good horse. He’s a gelding, and when you have an older gelding like this, it’s more of just enjoy your horse and be thankful that a horse like this is in your barn. I really don’t think does he deserve the respect or whatever. I really don’t get caught up in a lot of that. It’s like, you have a good horse, and just enjoy the moment and enjoy your good horse. I mean there’s no sense in having a good horse if you can’t enjoy him running. So I think a lot of people they just get too caught up in all of the—what’s going on and they’re worried about this and that. I worry about so many other horses in my barn, but him I don’t worry about him, because I know he’s down there and he’s happy and healthy and we just enjoy him. I mean it’s a pleasure to train him. He’s a sweet horse. You’d never know he was just that competitive. But he’s the nicest, sweetest horse to be around the barn, but when he gets in that gate he’s a really competitive horse, and he just turns into a different kind of horse. But we’re just really enjoying him.
Danny Brewer: As far as strategy, I mean last year he ran he got caught in the stretch. Anything that you’re changing about him, or does he just need to go out there and be Game On Dude and run his race?
Bob Baffert: Yes, he needs to be Game On Dude. You don’t want to go too fast, but you can’t go too slow either. He likes a faster pace. I think he’s more effective, and especially if there’s a little bit more speed horses in there where he can—he likes to get it on. And you have to let him get it on. If you don’t let him get it on he’s just not the same—he likes to just get out there. And the way he worked yesterday, I mean he showed me no signs- he never took a deep breath, and he is just really doing well right now.
Jennie Rees: Yes, Bob. What’s your jockey situation for Game On Dude beyond this race? Do you have any commitments either with Rosario or Smith for say the next race or the next two?
Bob Baffert: Rosario hopefully we’re going to win the race, and so I’m—I think one race ahead of me. I never get ahead of myself on anything, and so I’m just glad to have Rosario for this race, and I haven’t even thought of where I’m going to run—if I’m going to run Dude again before the Breeders’ Cup or what, so I really don’t know.
Jennie Rees: And when you bought this horse privately, what did you—you know—I guess it’s been, what, two and a half years ago or whatever. What did you think you were buying, and what would’ve been reasonable expectations, and just your thoughts on what he’s turned out to be?
Bob Baffert: For what now? I missed your question.
Jennie Rees: Yes, when you first bought him, the spring of his three year old year I believe, privately.
Bob Baffert: No, no, no, we bought him specifically to run. We were looking for a Kentucky Derby horse.
Jennie Rees: Derby horse, right. So—but did you think he would be kind of morphed into this kind of horse?
Bob Baffert: Well, we were hoping to win the Kentucky Derby when we bought him, because he was a gelding, and we had to give a lot of money for him, and for a gelding it was ridiculous money for him at the time. You know, now it looks like it was a good deal, but… we bought him a week before the Florida Derby, and then we let the trainer run him and he just didn’t run well, so then I brought him back and I ran him in the Derby trial, and he ran—he didn’t run well in the Derby trial, so then I just—so we decided to take a step back, like, you know, maybe we didn’t buy such a great horse after all. And then he won the Lone Star Derby, and that sort of woke him up. We ran him in the Belmont and ran a good fourth. And then he was really getting good and he had a little bit of a setback. He hurt a hind ankle working so he needed some time off; you know, not serious or anything like that, so we just gave him like 60, 90 days off, and since then when he came back he’s just been so solid.
Jennie Rees: And how painful was it watching the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year when, you know, he didn’t show—you know—he didn’t break well, didn’t show his normal speed, and you had to watch for a mile and a quarter; the rest of the race?
Bob Baffert: Well, yes, once he got behind, he broke a little flatfooted and they crossed over on him and it was over, and once I saw him behind there fighting, it was over for him. You feel like, oh, this is going to be just dreadful; you know, and so it’s painful to watch. But, he came out of it fine.
He’s getting older and I’m learning more about him as he gets older, and he’s really a lot different horse than he was a year ago. He’s more—I think he’s really maturing with age and he’s getting more relaxed about everything, and I can tell in his works, he used to get a little keen and now he’s not. He’s relaxing a lot more, so that’s why I think he’s going to be effective this week. Before he used to like to get it on a little bit too early and now he’s starting to relax. And I think Mike Smith has actually taught him a lot. That’s why I hated to lose Mike Smith, because Mike Smith really has his number. He knows what he likes and, what he doesn’t like or whatever, and he knows when to give him a breather and whatever. But it’s just he’s a horse that he’s just getting better, and he’s really happy right now and that’s all you can ask for.
Dick Downey: Bob, I wasn’t in on the first part of the call, but can you tell us what Power Broker’s plans are?
Bob Baffert: I’m preparing him to run in the—it’s the Derby in Louisiana. It’s the—in September.
Jim Mulvihill: The Super Derby.
Dick Downey: The Super Derby.
Bob Baffert: The Super Derby. There we go. I needed some help there; the Super Derby. That’s where he’s headed.
Jon White: Bob, I saw that Flashback got back on the work tab. What can you tell us about his situation?
Bob Baffert: Yes, he just came back. He’s one we just got him back in and he’s been galloping for a month and he just started back working a little three eighths. We’re slowly getting him back for the winter meet and pointing him to the Malibu at Santa Anita.
Jim Mulvihill: All right, Bob. I’ve got a couple follow-ups. We’ll ask you about some of the other horses that we didn’t get any questions on there. Let’s start with Liaison in the Pacific Classic. How has he trained since the San Diego?
Bob Baffert: He actually worked today. He worked very well. And for some reason, he just ran really a flat race. You know, sometimes these horses we run them, and we think going in that they’re going to run a big race and they just don’t show up. And for some reason we never realize they just had a bad off day, you know. So he’s come back and worked well, and he should run very, very well. He’s a good horse. He’s much better than what he showed last time. I think the added distance will help him. They were going pretty fast last time, and I think he just got caught up chasing horses, and sometimes you can’t do that on this racetrack.
One thing about the synthetic track, if your horse is in the bridle you’re fine, but if you’re chasing, they’re just going to get tired and they give up, and that’s what he did. He was done by the half mile pole, and he just didn’t have any horse left. He came back fine and we couldn’t find anything wrong with him. He’s been training well since then, it was one of those off days, that’s all he had.
Jim Mulvihill: Sure. You’ve got two in the Pat O’Brien, Fed Biz and Drill. The seven-eighths is a demanding distance; one that I really enjoy watching. It seems like Drill specializes at seven-eighths. Is that fair to say?
Bob Baffert: Yes, he likes seven-eighths. He’s run some big races this year, but for some reason, he’s just not getting away from the gate like he can. And I’ve worked him from the gate, he breaks well, and he’s been getting off—it takes him a little bit to get going. And so hopefully he’ll not be too far back, because you can’t be really too far back on this track. But he is doing well. And Fed Biz really likes this track and he worked well today, and he really has a liking for this surface, and hopefully we can get something done there also.
Jim Mulvihill: All right. And we should also mention Book Review in the Ballerina; maybe the best of the West Coast fillies in this division, and had what looks like a great work on paper. What can you tell us about that one?
Bob Baffert: Yes, she’s a filly that seven-eighths is her best distance. Most of her wins come at seven-eighths. She needs a lot of speed and it’s got to set up for her a little bit. She comes from off the pace, so we’re looking forward to her and Bejarano. He’s excited about riding her, it’s a huge race to win, and winning in Saratoga is pretty special.
Jim Mulvihill: It is. Now, last but certainly not least, a lot of people are always interested in Paynter. Not running this weekend, but pointing for the Woodward the following weekend. What can you tell us about how Paynter’s been doing?
Bob Baffert: He’s been doing great. I mean in his last race he could’ve easily won it, and I think he was a little fresh, he didn’t really get tired, but it was a little bit short for him. Since then he has really trained well, and I just love the way he worked today. He’s just getting stronger and better, and he’s just an amazing horse. I mean, what he’s been through from a year ago. He’s running in the Woodward after going to the clinic, it’s a pretty incredible story. And if you look at Paynter, you would never know that he even went through all of that. I mean it’s just an amazing—and it looks like the Woodward’s coming up to be probably the greatest race of the year coming up this summer, so we’re looking forward to it and we’re just going in there. We’ll be prepared and ready. He’s had that race—he’s had two races now, I just hope to have beautiful weather, a fast track, and hope for the best.
Jim Mulvihill: Great. And when does he ship up to Saratoga?
Bob Baffert: He’ll probably ship up a few days before.
Jim Mulvihill: Okay. All right, well, Bob, we really appreciate your time today. It’s nice to have you on the call and we wish you a lot of luck this weekend.
Bob Baffert: Well, thank you. Anytime.
Jim Mulvihill: All right. Bob Baffert. He’s going to start Game On Dude in the Pacific Classic as well as, as is typical, several other runners in graded stakes this weekend.
Now we’ll move on to our next guest, and that is Shug McGaughey, the trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Orb, who is going to be one of the top choices in this Saturday’s Travers Stakes. McGaughey, of course, trained a Belmont winner in Easy Goer. He’s also trained nine Breeders’ Cup winners, including a Hall of Famer in Personal Ensign, and three winners of the Travers, could be four after Saturday. Let’s see if we’ve got Shug McGaughey on the line. Shug, are you with us?
Shug McGaughey: I’m here.
Jim Mulvihill: All right. Thanks for joining us. Let’s get right to Orb. He hasn’t raced since the Belmont, that’s two and a half months ago, but obviously has been working very sharply. How would you describe his fitness level coming into this, especially without a prep race under his belt?
Shug McGaughey: Well, I don’t think fitness will be a problem. I never did really think that coming out of the Belmont when I decided to run him straight into the Travers. I thought I could have him ready to run. He just had a two weeks where he didn’t get ridden, and after that all of his works have been good. The one 10 days ago at Fair Hill where he went :59 and some change, and very good form, and then he had a good half mile work on the training track here yesterday in :47 and some change the right way. So I think the fitness level is not going to be a problem, and just go there, and, you know, hope for the best.
Jim Mulvihill: And as you look at him now that he, you know, spent that time down at Fair Hill and had a lot of the summer to himself, what do you see that’s changed with him, whether it’s physically or mentally? What’s new with Orb?
Shug McGaughey: I think he’s mentally very—I think he’s mentally very sharp right now. Physically, I think he went on the van a horse and he came off the van back up here 10 days ago or so as a man. And he got a lot stronger. He couldn’t be any better than he is, and, you know, I think that all systems are go. I think our little experiment at Fair Hill really worked to his advantage.
Jim Mulvihill: And as we just mentioned, you’ve won three of these Travers Stakes. What can you say about the quality and depth of this year’s field especially relative to so many that you’ve seen over the past few decades?
Shug McGaughey: Well, I think it’s a very solid bunch. I mean with Orb being in there, with Todd’s Verrazano, who has been kind of a favorite horse all year since he broke his maiden this winter at Gulfstream, and really he’s only got one blemish on his record and that was at the Derby, and that could’ve been from the sloppy race track or things just didn’t go their way. And then Palace Malice has gotten good here lately, won the Belmont, and then came back and ran a great race in the Jim Dandy. Both of them are going to be really tough, and I’m sure that Todd’s couple will be good. I mean Wayne’s horse that was second in the Jim Dandy was bold and fast, and he’s got another eighth of a mile that he gets to go this time. I think Moreno will be in front and we’ll see what happens from there. I mean if McPeek says his horse wants a mile and a quarter, you know, what he likes— he just has to prove that, but I think it’s a pretty darn good race.
Danny Brewer: Great. You talked a little bit about some of the other horses that have improved, with Palace Malice and Verrazano. How much better do you think Orb is right now, or do you really know?
Shug McGaughey: Well, I do think he’s much better. As I said, I think that he kind of left me in June as a horse and he kind of came back as a man-horse. He’s got a different look to him. He’s heavier, but I think he’s heavier because he’s put on some muscle weight more than just fat. He’s been really travelling well here and everything. I was going to Fair Hill every weekend, and I think our experiment worked. We won’t know until Saturday afternoon, but I think we’ve got a much better horse today than we had back earlier in the year.
Danny Brewer: To pull off the Derby-Travers double is something that hasn’t happened a whole lot. I think ’07 with Carl and Street Sense was the last time. How big of an achievement would that be for you to pull that kind of double off?
Shug McGaughey: Well, you know, getting him back on track and win the Travers would be a huge thrill, and to have a horse that won the Derby and won the Travers would make it even that much more of a thrill. But, we’re going into this thing with the hope of winning, and you know, we’re kind of getting on with our second half of the year.
Don Jensen: Yes, Shug. Part of the question’s already been answered, but can you talk about the Travers; the atmosphere and what it would be to win this for you a fourth time?
Shug McGaughey: Well, obviously the Travers is a big race, so it would be a big thrill. The Preakness and the Belmont were obviously slight disappointments to us, we’re excited about this week, we’re excited the way our horse is doing, and we’re looking forward to Saturday afternoon. And hopefully we can win the race, and everybody will be talking about Orb again.
Jennie Rees: Yes, Shug. You were so quietly confident before the Derby, and also seemingly quietly confident before the Preakness and the Belmont. But is your confidence sort of the same or is it a little bit different, because you are coming off the layoff and the other horses have, you know, had good looking wins behind them. How is it different going into this race, say, versus going into the Derby?
Shug McGaughey: We have gotten beat twice, so that’ll—that shakes your confidence a little bit, but I also do, Jennie, I think that we’ve got the best horse. And I’m not worried about his fitness level. I know Palace Malice and Verrazano’s prep races were as good as you can walk. The reason I didn’t run him in a prep race is I thought we were going forward fast and I didn’t want to take a chance on taking—running him and maybe knocking him out a little bit and taking a step backward. I think I’m where I want to be, and, I’m just hopeful that on Saturday that we’ve got the best horse.
Jennie Rees: You were saying before the Derby you didn’t want an off track because you wanted no excuses. I’m assuming you feel the same. Are you—I guess the question is are you really looking forward to Verrazano when he’s on the top of his game, you think your horse is on the top of his game, a fast track to where’s there’s no excuses and let’s see who the best horse is?
Shug McGaughey: I think so, Jennie. I mean I’m looking forward to Saturday. I mean I’m no different than anybody else. It would be a lot more fun for me if the race was—if one (inaudible) of the track as it is just from a selfish standpoint. But I’m looking forward to Saturday. I’m looking forward to running against the horses we’re going to run against. I know that Verrazano’s going to be a very formidable foe as probably all the rest of them, but hopefully we can be in the right position at the right time and be able to make a run at him and see what happens.
Jennie Rees: Okay. And final question. The little experiment at Fair Hill, as you said, is that something you’ve done before? You know, have you done that before with horses?
Shug McGaughey: I’ve done it with one other horse. I’ve sent Gone Astray down there one time. He’d run at Monmouth Park and went down there from there, and his deal was just to use the hyperbaric chamber. I had been thinking about what I wanted to do with Orb all Belmont week and not before, because I wanted to get him back into more of a Payson Park type of atmosphere. Saratoga came into my mind, but, there’s an awful lot of horses up here in the off season training on one little race track. I didn’t have the turnout (inaudible) therapy facilities that they’ve got at Fair Hill and Bruce Jackson’s situation. So I called Bruce and asked him about it the morning after the Belmont, and he said I think that you’ll see that we’ve had a lot of luck doing that. And so I said, well, let me think about it here for a little while, and I called him back in a couple of hours and he said I think you’ll like the results you see, and I think he was right.
Bob Ehalt: In this week in the NTRA National Poll, they had Verrazano and Palace Malice listed and not Orb. How do you view that, and do you feel that—is that a fair assessor of the pecking order of the three year olds heading into this race?
Shug McGaughey: No, I haven’t seen that, so I don’t know. I mean the Racing Form’s got Orb on top. I mean they’re the now horses, we’ve been gone for awhile. So, you know, I don’t think that that’s a fair assessment, but, you know, that’s their assessment and hopefully we can turn all that around on Saturday.
Mike Hamilton: I was just wondering any updates on Point of Entry, and are you really hoping that he actually could make it back for the Breeders’ Cup?
Shug McGaughey: Yes, we’re definitely hoping, and I do have some updates on him. He galloped this morning for the first time. He’s in Ocala now (inaudible) jogging and we keep our layups and break all the babies down there, the yearlings, and he gets them ready for two year olds. And he’s been going in—he’s had a couple weeks to solve that and then he was walking by hand, and then he’s got a thing called a (inaudible) there where they walk or jog in water and he’s been going in that. He jogged all of last week, and he jogged yesterday and he galloped a mile today. He sent me a video of it this morning, and I was very pleased with what I saw, and I think he’ll come back. He was a fit horse when he hurt himself, so I think he’s going to be the kind of horse that will come around quickly. Whether we get a prep race in time or not, who knows, but, you know, if he says he’s ready, I think I can get him ready to run in the Breeders’ Cup (inaudible).
Jim Mulvihill: Shug, I’ve got a couple of follow-ups for you. Hungry Island is pointing to the Ballston Spa on Saturday. You know, you look at this mare’s form and it’s hard to believe she doesn’t have a Grade 1 win, but she keeps facing some of the best out there and just keeps running into some really world class fillies and mares. What can you say about her going into the race Saturday?
Shug McGaughey: Well, I think she’s doing really well. She’s been training down at Fair Hill. She’s going to come up here on Friday. She worked down there last Saturday and really a nice work with five eighths to the minute. The reason she’s in training this year is to try of win a Grade 1. The Ballston Spa’s and hopefully she’ll make a good account of herself and maybe we can take her to Keeneland and run her in the First Lady, which is a Grade 1, and go from there. But that’s why—she’s been knocking on the door in Grade 1s against like what you said, some of the best grass fillies you could run against in Stephanie’s Kitten and some of the others last year. I think she’ll run a good race. Whether it’s good enough or not, who knows.
Jim Mulvihill: All right. And also want to check in on Boisterous. How’d he come out of the Sword Dancer?
Shug McGaughey: He came out fine. I took him back to the track today and he just jogged to make sure I wasn’t missing something and he jogged fine and he looked fine to me, I just—maybe it was one of those days. He’s run twice at Saratoga in the Sword Dancer and he hasn’t shown up either time, so whether it’s this course or whether it’s up here or what, but I’m going to point him to the Bowling Green back at Belmont and everything being good and see if getting him back at Belmont helps.
Jim Mulvihill: All right. Well, Shug McGaughey, we really appreciate your time today, and throughout the year you’ve been so accommodating with the media throughout all of 2013, and I know everyone on this call appreciates that. So thanks for joining us and best of luck this weekend.
Shug McGaughey: Well, thanks a lot, and thanks for that, too. I appreciate it.
Jim Mulvihill: You got it. All right, Shug McGaughey is going to have Hungry Island in the Ballston Spa, and, of course, Kentucky Derby winner, Orb, in the Travers.
And now we’re going to move on to our final guest of the call, and that is trainer Bill Mott, who has Royal Delta running in the Personal Ensign on Sunday at Saratoga. Bill Mott has trained a Belmont winner, nine Breeders’ Cup winners, six Eclipse Award winners, including two time Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic winner and two time champion Royal Delta, the heavy favorite for Sunday’s Personal Ensign. And keep in mind, he’s also pointing Flat Out to the Woodward the following weekend, so we’ll touch on that as well.
Bill Mott, you’re with Jim Mulvihill in New York. Welcome to the call.
Bill Mott: Yes, thank you for having me.
Jim Mulvihill: Of course. We appreciate you being here. Royal Delta is following essentially the exact same trail as she did last year. Last time out she won the Delaware Handicap so easily. You don’t see many 10 plus length winners in any Grade 1 stakes. Is it possible that she’s better at five than she was last year at four?
Bill Mott: Well, she could be. She’s bigger, stronger, more mature, and, she stayed together and seems very healthy, so I’m hoping that the last race is an indication of good things to come. Hopefully she can maintain that form throughout the end of the year.
Jim Mulvihill: And, you know, we were talking earlier with Bob Baffert about Mike Smith giving up the mount on perhaps the best older male in the country to ride Royal Delta. That’s a vote of confidence you have to be pleased about.
Bill Mott: Well, yes. Obviously, I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision and I hope for, everybody’s sake, and in particular Mike, I hope it works out for him. I hope she comes back and runs a good race and can get the job done, and, you know, that’ll justify his decision.
Mike Hamilton: I was just wondering about Ron the Greek and Flat Out for next week. If they keep running well, would you bring them both back to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the fall?
Bill Mott: You know, I don’t think we’ve determined that. I think they’d have to be in very good form for us to do that. Last year, of course, Flat Out had won the Jockey Club and was—it was really a Win and You’re In for both horses; neither horse had come up with any nomination fees to get in. And I think if that would be the case I think we would be more encouraged to bring him out, but I think we’ll have to scrutinize the situation a little more carefully if they don’t win one of those races. I’m sure their last race preceding the Breeders’ Cup would have to be a very good effort for us to want to come out and try it again.
Mike Hamilton: I was just asking about Royal Delta, if she continues in good form would you consider the Classic for her instead of the Distaff?
Bill Mott: She’ll be nominated for the Classic. I’m sure if she gets to that point of the year where she’s doing very well; we’ll probably nominate her for both races the same as we did last year. Of course, I was always a little bit on the conservative side and I opted to keep her with her same group last year, but that’s a decision that would have to come from between the owners and myself, but I would probably lean more towards keeping her with fillies and mares.
Danny Brewer: What kind of class does Royal Delta have? I mean when you look at her record and what she’s done, is she maybe the classiest horse that you’ve ever had?
Bill Mott: Well, that would be hard—that would be difficult to say. I’ve had some very nice horses. I’ve had some very classy horses in the past. Of course, you know, I’ve had Cigar and Paradise Creek and a number of good fillies, but she’d have to rank right up there with them. I would certainly say that, she’s been very consistent and very durable. I think anytime that you’re a two-time Eclipse champion and have won two Breeders’ Cups, I’d say that’s a lot about any horse. But as far as the actual class that you can see in her when you’re around her, it drips off of her. Just to look at her and watch her and watch her train, she’s very special.
Danny Brewer: After the Fleur de Lis there may have been some questions about, you know, is—has her time come and gone. Were you especially proud of the way she responded in her last race?
Bill Mott: We were obviously very disappointed in the Kentucky race, and a little confused by it. We did take her off of Lasix after that. I just felt like it probably wasn’t doing her any favors, and it seemed like maybe it was working against us a little bit. She’ll run without Lasix when she runs in the Personal Ensign.
Danny Brewer: Okay, last one from here. The two time Ladies Classic champ, is the Breeders’ Cup Classic in your sights for this year?
Bill Mott: You know, we talked about that last year about doing it last year and then coming into this year we spoke about it, but that would be really something that would have to be determined. That’ll be determined probably that week leading up to the race I would imagine. I think we’ll be nominated for both races and not make a decision on that right now.
Jennie Rees: You are a proponent of having Lasix available for horses with bleeding problems, so I think that’s really interesting when she did show up without Lasix. Can you elaborate on that? What made you think that it wasn’t helping her and might’ve been hurting her, and have you had any other horses have that kind of experience?
Bill Mott: Well, I think it happens occasionally. I think Lasix can offset the balance—the electrolyte balance in their system and I think it can adversely affect them at times, and it can actually—in some horses I think it can cause the diaphragm to go into spasms, and, consequently they don’t get their air properly. And we just thought that it was a possibility that that’s what had happened to her in the Fleur de Lis, and so we opted to take her off Lasix. She’s never been a horse that’s been a known bleeder or a horse that’s had to have Lasix, and I think it’s an individual case with each individual horse, and for her, we just talked it out, and as long as we don’t feel the need for it, I’m going to probably continue on that path with her. And like I say, I guess it’s everybody’s choice if they want to run on Lasix or not, and we just chose not to run her on it.
Jennie Rees: Do you hold your breath at all, like for the Delaware Handicap, quarter deep track, or (inaudible) to make that call; to make that decision to take her off the Lasix, or…?
Bill Mott: Did I hold my breath…?
Jennie Rees: Did you hold your breath, yes, just, you know…?
Bill Mott: That she would bleed?
Jennie Rees: Well, maybe. You know, horses bleed. I’m just curious.
Bill Mott: No, no, she’s never bled.
Jennie Rees: You didn’t see it as a gamble at all?
Bill Mott: No, I didn’t. Not with her. I mean she’s never had a shot of Lasix to breeze or we never used it on her in the morning, and I thought it was kind of an unnecessary tool that we were carrying around, and just felt like we—in her individual case, we didn’t need it. I can’t speak for anybody else. Whatever they want to do with their horses is fine; I just felt in her case I didn’t think it was necessary. Maybe I’ll look back after a race in the future and say, well, maybe we should’ve had it, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case.
Jennie Rees: Yes, sure. But you just thought she ran too bad for her standards for the way she looked and the way she was training before the Fleur de Lis, you were looking for an explanation and thought maybe this is—maybe this is it?
Bill Mott: I think she indicated to us after the race that she was uncomfortable because of it.
Jennie Rees: How awkward is it for you to try to do something with her that hadn’t been done before; maybe be the first (inaudible) well, I’m wrong because I’m forgetting that good French filly, I’m going to say the first filly or first (inaudible), but to try to do something with her that very few horses have done, whether it be winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff three years in a row, or, you know, winning two Distaff’s and then the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Is that in consideration for the (inaudible) mark in history?
Bill Mott: I’d like to join Goldikova and I think that would put us in pretty good company. I think she was pretty well highly thought of, and I think any horse that can do that—obviously it’s a huge challenge and we know how difficult it is to win one Breeders’ Cup, so I guess to try to win three is particularly difficult. I think if things continue to go well, we’re up for the challenge and we want to give her that opportunity.
Dick Downey: Bill, can you tell us about any of your two year olds that you might be pointing towards stakes races that are coming up September, October?
Bill Mott: We’ve got one colt that we, a new acquisition for the stable, and his name is Long On Value, and we will probably plan on running him in the Hopeful. He’s just recently acquired by one of my owners, and he would be the only one coming up here in Saratoga.
Dick Downey: But do you think he’ll run (inaudible) next in New York?
Bill Mott: That’s been undetermined yet.
Jim Mulvihill: Bill, the only other follow-up I have for you is if you could just give us an update on some of your three year old fillies; Close Hatches and Emollient are the ones that come to mind.
Bill Mott: Sure. Emollient is being pointed for the Garden City Stakes at Belmont, which is a Grade 1 mile and an eighth on the turf, and if she does well there she’ll run in the Spinster this fall at Keeneland. And Close Hatches breezed this morning and she’ll run in the Cotillion at Parx.
Jim Mulvihill: Excellent. Well, I really appreciate all your time this morning, and we all wish you the best of luck this weekend. Thanks for joining us.
Bill Mott: Okay. Thank you.
Jim Mulvihill: All right. Thank you to Bill Mott, and thanks once again to Bob Baffert and Shug McGaughey for joining us on this Hall of Fame call today. We’ll be back next week to preview closing weekend at Saratoga, that’s with the Woodward and the Forego, and we’ll also talk about juvenile stakes both at Saratoga and Del Mar.