Jim Mulvihill: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another Road to the Breeders’ Cup National Media Teleconference. We’re now 11 weeks away from the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita on October 31st and November 1st. That might sound like a ways off, but really we’re only going to see two more starts at best from the top horses before then, and it’s only about two months until all the final preps will have been run, so now is when we learn who the real contenders are for all of the Breeders’ Cup races.
Today we’re going to focus on turf racing. Arlington hosts its International Festival on Saturday, highlighted by the 32nd running of the Arlington Million. That card features three Grade 1s, also including the Beverly D. for females and the Secretariat for three-year-olds. The Million and the Beverly D. are Breeders’ Cup challenge “Win and You’re In” propositions, carrying automatic berths, paid entry fees and travel for the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf respectively. The Million, just so everyone knows, is broadcast locally on Chicago’s WGN.
The day after the Million, it’s one of the East Coast’s most prestigious turf stakes, the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga, and that race headlines the national broadcast of “The Jockey Club Tour” on FOX, and that’s Sunday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 1.
Now also note that all of these Grade 1 turf stakes this weekend will be live on satellite radio, Sirius Channel 93 and XM 208. Horse Racing Radio will be at Arlington on Saturday from 4:30 to 7, and “Down the Stretch” is at Saratoga on Sunday from 5 to 6.
There’s a few other Grade 1 events to note this weekend. Saratoga on Saturday, the feature is the Alabama. We’ll be touching on that later in this call. Stopchargingmaria heads the probables for that one. Then on Sunday, the Del Mar Oaks will hopefully be led by multiple Grade 1 winner, Fashion Plate.
One more reminder from our friends at The Jockey Club, last Sunday’s Round Table, the transcripts as well as a video replay and all of the visual aids from the presentation, all of that is now available online at jockeyclub.com.
Now, let’s get to our guests. Later in this call we’re going to have Graham Motion. He’s got starters in three of the Grade 1s this weekend. We’ve got Dale Romans. He runs Finnegans Wake in the Million and O’Prado Ole the next day in the Sword Dancer. And we’ve got Anna Seitz, whose partnership, mostly newcomers to horse ownership, campaigned I’m Already Sexy, who is in the Beverly D.
Before all that, though, we get to start with trainer Malcolm Pierce, who has Up With the Birds trying the Million on Saturday. Let me tell you a little bit about Malcolm before we bring him in. Pierce was born in Ireland. He grew up in Ontario. Started out with show horses before getting involved with racing in the early ’80s. He worked as an assistant of Jim Day for 13 years, and then continued in association with Sam-Son Farm after that. He went out on his own in ’97, and then reconnected with Sam-Son a few years ago. Typically he races at Woodbine, Keeneland and the Fair Grounds. He has 21 graded stakes wins to his credit, and got his first Grade 1 in the Jamaica last fall at Belmont with the horse we’re going to talk about today; that is the 2013 Canadian Horse of the Year, Up With the Birds.
So, Malcolm Pierce, you’re on with Jim Mulvihill in New York. Thanks for joining us.
Malcolm Pierce: Well, thanks for having me.
Jim Mulvihill: All right. Well, it’s our pleasure. Let’s talk about the last race for Up With the Birds. That was in the Nijinsky. Really strong performance. He kind of muscled his way out at the top of the stretch and then just blew past the field fairly effortlessly. What was your impression of, not just that race, but especially his finish that day?
Malcolm Pierce: I was quite impressed with him. I mean there was a very quick pace out front; two horses had hooked up. But, you know, he showed a lot of determination, and like you said, he had to push his way out a little bit and finished very strong. I mean I think the pace helped him look even better, but he seems to be rounding into his form from last fall.
Jim Mulvihill: Was the Million already on your radar before that effort, or was that so impressive that then you thought, well, we have to consider it?
Malcolm Pierce: Yes, no we had a meeting with the owners, and that—the Million became a lot more on our radar. It was on our radar, but it came a lot more of a surer thing to do after that race, because we have a race here the same day called the Sky Classic, and I have another horse called Aldous Snow, so we’re going to try to let him run in that race and we’re going to take Up With the Birds to Chicago.
Jim Mulvihill: Terrific. Well, that Nijinsky was the first win of the year for Up With the Birds. Prior to that, did it take him awhile to come around, or did he have excuses at Keeneland and then in the Dixie at Pimlico?
Malcolm Pierce: Well, probably at Keeneland he needed a race. You know, he missed a little bit more time this winter from his holiday than we had planned on, and, you know, he got back to me a little bit late at the Fair Ground. So the screws weren’t tightened really very well for the first race at Keeneland, so that was kind of a, you know, practice effort, and he got something out of that race. Then he ran a very good race I thought at Pimlico, even though he was only sixth. He wasn’t beaten very far, and he’s just improved all along. So hopefully he can step up another notch to be with Grade 1 horses on Saturday.
Jim Mulvihill: How is he in the mornings? I mean I’m looking at his works on paper and the thing that I find really interesting is that he seems to work pretty fast for it being on the turf with the dogs up. But being a closer like he is, what’s he like in the mornings and how is he training?
Malcolm Pierce: Well, he’s training wonderfully coming into this race, but he only does as much as you ask him for. You know, some of his works that are a little slower I’ll leave the blinkers off and that kind of stuff, but his last work I wanted to get something into him and make sure that he was tight enough for this race. He worked with a horse in company and started behind him and finished up together. But you have to ask him. He’s a little bit lazy in the mornings, which is probably a good thing because he conserves his energy.
Jim Mulvihill: Yes. All right, well, Malcolm, if you’ll hang on for a second, I’m going to give it back to Michelle, and she’s going to check with the media on the line and see if they have questions for you.
Malcolm Pierce: Thank you.
Danny Brewer: Let’s talk for a second about the international flavor of the Arlington Million. Is that one of the things that is attractive for you as a trainer, and do you think that’s going to be good for Up With the Birds, too?
Malcolm Pierce: Oh, definitely. I mean there’s going to be some European flavor there, and, you know, it’s obviously a Grade 1 race; it’s a million dollar purse. You know, it would be a big feather in this horse’s cap, and, you know, might help for his stallion career down the road to win a race like this.
Danny Brewer: If things go the way you want, Breeders’ Cup, is that what’s next on the radar you think for this horse?
Malcolm Pierce: Well, that’s a good possibility, especially if he gets a free ride there; happen to get lucky and win the Arlington Million, because we do have a race here at Woodbine called Canadian International that’s in a couple weeks. He couldn’t do both races. So I guess we’ll just sit down with the owners after the Arlington race and make a decision on his next start. But we take it one at a time even though we have a plan, but sometimes plans get derailed.
Danny Brewer: You mentioned something about he’s a little lazy in the mornings and you’ve got to push him. Is knowing your horse one of the things that been key to you helping him be successful?
Malcolm Pierce: I think it’s key to any training of any horse. You know, I’ve had this horse from the time he probably, you know, in June as a two-year-old, and he’s been with me other than for his little breaks on the farm in the wintertime. You know, I see him day in and day out, and you get to know the horses and their quirks. I don’t worry if he gets outworked by another horse in the morning, because I know he’ll show up in the afternoon.
Danny Brewer: Malcolm, I appreciate your time, and, man, I wish you the best of luck.
Jim Mulvihill: . Malcolm, before we let you go, I’m just wondering if you could talk a little bit about the Samuels and training for an operation that you worked for so long early in your career; what that relationship’s like and just training for Sam-Son.
Malcolm Pierce: Well, they breed very good horses, as you know. They’ve got a top class broodmare band that—and they go to the best stallions money can get to, and, you know, they’re great people to train for. We’ve—we didn’t have a horse for our Woodbine Oaks this year, and we didn’t have a horse for our Queen’s Plate, which are our two biggest—you know—two of our bigger races for three-year-olds here at Woodbine, and, you know, they’re very understanding. They know that happens some years, and they don’t push to run a horse in there just to see their silks go around. So, you know, that’s great. There’s a lot less pressure, you know, and not running—we try to run horses in spots and we try to keep our win average up. But they’re wonderful people and they supply very good horse to train.
Jim Mulvihill: Interesting. I was looking through the list of past Arlington Million winners and it’s really the elite of international horse ownership. I mean this is a race that only seems to be won by the biggest and most prestigious operations, and it seems easy to be able to picture Sam-Son joining that list.
Malcolm Pierce: Well, I’d love it to happen, and we’re sure going to give it our best try on Saturday.
Jim Mulvihill: Excellent. Well, Malcolm, I really appreciate you joining us today, and good luck on Saturday. We’ll see you in Chicago.
Malcolm Pierce: Well, thank you very much, and we’ll be trying our best.
Jim Mulvihill: All right. Thanks so much. That’s Malcolm Pierce. He’s got Up With the Birds in the Arlington Million; last year’s Canadian Horse of the Year.
Now we’ll move on. We’ve got four guests today, so we’re going to try and roll right through them. Moving on now to Graham Motion. We’ll run through the bio real quick before bringing Graham on. Motion was born in England, the son of a Tattersalls bloodstock agent. The family moved to the US in 1980. After college, Graham worked for Jonathan Sheppard, and then spent time in France where he met his wife, Anita, at Chantilly. He came back to the US to work for trainer Bernie Bond, and when Bond died in 1993, Motion went out on his own. He’s had 14 Grade 1 wins going back 10 or 11 years from Film Maker, and Better Talk Now, to his Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup winner, Animal Kingdom. Then to most recently, the UN Stakes winner, Main Sequence, who runs in the Sword Dancer on Saturday. We’re also going to talk about Fortune Pearl in the Alabama, and Can’thelpbelieving in the Secretariat. I also have to mention Graham’s most recent milestone. Last night he was a judge at the Jockey Karaoke Contest, to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund last night. That was in Saratoga Springs.
Graham Motion, it’s Jim Mulvihill in New York. Thanks for being on with us.
Graham Motion: Hi, Jim. I was hoping that’s what we were going to discuss.
Jim Mulvihill: Yes, well, most important things first. So tell us about the karaoke contest last night? How was it?
Graham Motion: The jockeys are terrible singers, but they raised lots of money. It was a great evening.
Jim Mulvihill: You have to tell us who won. I didn’t hear who won.
Graham Motion: It was actually a group of Rajiv Maragh, (inaudible). They did a very good version of “YMCA”.
Jim Mulvihill: Terrific. You actually kind of did the Simon Cowell thing from what I understand.
Graham Motion: That’s right. It was a great evening, and I think they raised lots of money.
Jim Mulvihill: Excellent, excellent. Well, all right, enough about that. Let’s talk about horses; that’s why we’re actually on this call. You know, your Saratoga meet has been exceptional. You’re in the top five going into the second half of the season. Tell us why you suppose the barn’s so hot right now? I mean is this just the normal cycle of horses or has something changed in your barn over the last year?
Graham Motion: I don’t think anything’s changed. I mean I felt like we probably had a strong of group going up there as I’ve had before, particularly having two-year-olds to run. You know, I’m usually not that brave about running two-year-olds up there, because it’s so competitive, but I feel like we’ve got a solid group of two-year-olds. Cleveland Sound I thought was very competitive the other day and probably a little unlucky at the Stake. On the turf races we’re very strong, and I, you know, it’s a little frustrating. We started off the first week with plenty of winners, and we’ve had a lot of seconds in the second week, which mostly they’ve run very well. It’s frustrating not to come away with winning some of the head (inaudible).
Jim Mulvihill: Right. Well, you mentioned success on the turf, so let’s talk about Main Sequence going in the Sword Dancer. Last time out in the UN, very impressive, especially first North American start off a layoff. That’s a pretty ambitious spot to pick for a comeback. Are you—you must’ve loved how he was doing going into that race?
Graham Motion: Well, to be honest, it was plan B. I had originally planned to take him to Arlington for one of the prep races for this weekend, but, you know, when he came to me over the winter, he got very sick. He actually got pneumonia off the traveling from England, and I was just a little nervous about shipping him all the way to Chicago for that reason. I thought the United Nations wasn’t coming up a crazy tough race, but when I really looked close at his form, you know, he’s been running against some of the best in Europe, so I thought it was worth taking the chance.
Jim Mulvihill: Then, you know, he had to run hard to get there in the UN. You know, some old school handicappers would maybe fear a regression or a bounce, if you will, under these circumstances. Is that a concern to you?
Graham Motion: Yes, definitely. I mean that’s always a big concern for me. But I would like to think he’s had plenty of time to get over the United Nations. I mean he really has done well. I know we always say that, of course, that they’re doing great, but I feel like he’s done well since the United Nations. I actually think he stood up to the conditions. I really couldn’t have been happier. He’s had several works. He worked through to this weekend. So as much as I—I’m always concerned about the bounce, I feel that he’s coming through it very well.
Jim Mulvihill: Well, that’s very encouraging. Okay and we can’t only talk about Main Sequence here. You’ve also got Fortune Pearl on Saturday in the Alabama; the Delaware Oaks winner. Just give us a little taste of how she’s doing?
Graham Motion: Yes, I mean this filly’s really been a pleasant surprise to me. She just keeps on improving. You know, after she ran in the Black-Eyed Susan, we really pointed to the Delaware Oaks. We trained her at Delaware. I thought she ran a big race that day. Obviously this is a really big step up in competition, but she’s doing great, and I think the distance should be well within her scope, which hopefully it might not be for some of the others.
Danny Brewer: Fortune Pearl, let’s talk about her for just a moment. Is she somewhat of a hidden gem, if you will, in your stable?
Graham Motion: Yes, absolutely. I mean she’s a filly that’s never been (inaudible) in the morning, and that’s why we started doing the training race. She’s just continued to progress. She’s a very—great forward filly to train in the morning; a very nice filly to be around. I’ve had her up at Saratoga for three works with the idea of, you know, I think it’s really important for these horses to train up there over that surface. So, you know, I don’t know for sure how she’s going to fit in this race, but I think she genuinely deserves a shot.
Danny Brewer: Well, she seems to have always been right there. I guess in her seven starts she’s been in the money every time but once. So maybe this is going to be a measuring stick for her to see is she really that class of horse, do you feel?
Graham Motion: Yes, definitely. I think this is a big step. This is, you know, she’s got to run with the big girls, so we’ll find out where we’re at on Saturday.
Paul Mazur: Thank you, Mr. Motion, for taking my question. Why did you end up choosing the Grade 1 Sword Dancer versus the Grade 1 Arlington Million for Main Sequence?
Graham Motion: You know, besides it being my preference, (inaudible) has a horse coming from Europe to run in the Arlington Million, so it just really made sense that we separated them to be honest.
Paul Mazur: Can you also talk a little bit, please, about Can’thelpbelieving who you have in the Grade 1 Secretariat coming up on Arlington Million Day at—in Chicago?
Graham Motion: Yes, I mean this is going to be a big step for him, but he’s a horse that clearly needs the distance. He just won going a mile and three furlongs at Saratoga in an allowance race. The horse he beat that day actually just came back and won since then. So, you know, the form is good, and this is something that Can’thelpbelieving needs. He needs the distance, and there aren’t that many opportunities to do it, so that’s why we’re bringing him to Chicago.
Paul Mazur: Do you think going from an allowance to a Grade 1 is a concern?
Graham Motion: Yes, of course it’s a concern, but you’re somewhat limited as to where you can point longer distance three-year-olds at this stage of the game. So, you know, I’m never afraid to take a shot. One of the biggest races I’ve won in my career has been at long odds, so I’m not one to be afraid to take a shot.
Paul Daley: Graham, thank you so much for taking the call. I write for the Lowell Sun in Massachusetts, and I’ll be forever grateful when you shipped up to Suffolk. You know, trainers like you and Nick Zito and others, they’ve done so much for racing around the country, and thank you for that. But my question is that, you know, as far as this weekend at Alabama, it’s tough and it gets—yes, I’m going to be up there covering the Travers, and, you know, but it gets shuffled a little bit there. But it looks like a great race, and can you handicap it, and go on from there?
Graham Motion: Well, obviously Todd’s filly is going to be the filly to beat. You know, she is—I think she’s won two in a row now. She beat her fair and square in the Black-Eyed Susan. But I think, you know, my hope is that the mile and a quarter’s going to be a bit of an equalizer, and I—I’m just not sure everyone’s going to want to go that far. I think that with the stamina and my filly’s pedigree there’s a good chance she should handle it.
Paul Daley: Okay. You know, as far as your success this year at Saratoga, you know, every owner and every trainer wants to win there. Can you point your horses for either Belmont or Saratoga, or—because you’re just going to run out of conditions? Can you talk about that?
Graham Motion: I mean we certainly gear our horses to certain meets throughout the year; Keeneland and Saratoga being the ones in particular. You know, you really do point the horses for them. The purses are phenomenal. Like you say, everybody wants to win there, and most of the time, you know, the races are going to fill, which makes it much easier to point horses for, whereas at a lot of the tracks these days, you’re not necessarily going to get the race that you pick out for a horse to fill, which makes training quite difficult. So, you know, I’m extremely fortunate that—to be competitive this year in big races like the Alabama, and I think for any trainer to have a horse running in the Alabama, I mean these are races that have tremendous history behind them. I was lucky enough to win the Whitney at Saratoga several years ago, and those are very special races to be a part of.
Paul Daley: Yes, and as far as the Alabama, the breeding rights.
Graham Motion: Absolutely. You know, I think growing up, you know, you remember the winners of the Alabama, and it’s very thrilling to be part of it.
Jim Mulvihill: Graham, I also wanted to ask about the Lake Placid. Was there a decision on Daring Dancer in that on Saturday?
Graham Motion: I’m leaning against running. It’s just coming back a little quick for my filly. She has an invitation to run in the Queen Elizabeth in October at Keeneland, which is a Grade 1, and would be so important for her if she was able to win a Grade 1. So I’ve tended to race her fairly conservatively, and I think we’ll probably continue along that path.
Jim Mulvihill: Very good. Well, thank you for the information on that. Graham, we’ll let you go. Thank you so much for joining us. Always a pleasure to talk to you and good luck this weekend with all of these Grade 1 entrants you’ve got.
Graham Motion: Happy to do it. Thanks a lot.
Jim Mulvihill: All right, Graham Motion. Always a threat up at Saratoga, but especially this meet. So watch out for Main Sequence in the Sword Dancer and Fortune Pearl in the Alabama, and, of course, in Chicago on Saturday we’ll get to see Can’thelpbelieving.
Now we’ll move on to trainer Dale Romans. If you need a Roman file, I’ll just refer you to the transcript from our July 22nd call. We just had Dale on a few weeks ago to talk about Medal Count, so you can find that on NTRA.com. This Saturday Dale has O’Prado Ole in the Sword Dancer, and then Sunday he’ll be at the Million with Finnegans Wake, who was fourth in that race last year. Both of them are owned by Donegal Racing.
Dale, it’s Jim Mulvihill. Thanks for being with us again.
Dale Romans: Hey, thanks for having me again. What does that bio say? I want to see it myself.
Jim Mulvihill: I’ll e-mail it to you and you can touch it up and send it back to me.
Dale Romans: All right.
Jim Mulvihill: Dale, both of these horses started last time at Arlington, and O’Prado Ole actually ran big and showed that he deserves a chance in these kind of races. So I’m wondering if you can tell us about the conversations that you had with Jerry Crawford and how you came to the decision to split them up as opposed to maybe taking two shots at the Million.
Dale Romans: Well, O’Prado Ole showed that maybe the mile and a half was going to put him over the tipping point where he could start running with the best, and so he—or at least stretch him out a little bit further. I don’t know what distance would be his best at the end of the day, but—and, you know, we went from the two of them getting beat at Churchill, but he was just training so good we gave him a shot at Arlington. He proved it to be a good decision, and Saratoga was pretty much the obvious place to go.
Jim Mulvihill: Right.
Dale Romans: With Finnegan, he’s run well at Arlington every single time he’s run. He was fourth in the Million last year. He ran big in the Secretariat as a three-year-old. Here it came up a short field for a million; it’s just hard to pass up.
Jim Mulvihill: You would think that he was going to break through and get this Grade 1 eventually, right? I mean I don’t—none of us know if Saturday’s the day, but…
Dale Romans: Yes. Jerry and I have talked about it, and, you know, he’s run second in a Grade 1 already, but there’s Grade 1s and there’s Grade 1s. I mean there’s Arlington Million, Travers, Pacific Classic. I mean when you see them on your pedigree, they’re a little more than just an average race, and—or even some other Grade 1s. So you’ve got to take a shot at it. He likes the racetrack; a short field. You know, the race is full of good old class horses, but early on in their game. You really don’t know until you show up and try them.
Jim Mulvihill: Sure, and, you know, despite the fact that he’s only got two wins over the past two years, he shows up in most of these races. I mean he just hasn’t been able to get the wins, but he runs every time for the most part.
Dale Romans: He does. He runs hard almost every time if he gets—and he’s a horse that’s kind of a victim of how the race sets up sometimes. If he gets the right trip and somebody gets stopped or they stub their toe, Finnegan is going to be right there. I was glad for him to get that breakthrough win at Arlington last time. The Classic’s a nice race to have on his resume. Jerry owns his mother; he owns his (inaudible). It’s always a big deal to get that graded stake winner.
Jim Mulvihill: Very cool.
Dale Romans: He’s only won a couple of times in his life, but he’s made $700,000 grinding it out with some of the best horses in the country.
Jim Mulvihill: Right. That would work for me. I saw Ryan Moore’s name. How did that come to pass?
Dale Romans: Nothing other than Espinoza wasn’t coming and we’re sitting around the table in time for pre-entries talking about who was available, and when the best—one of the top five jockeys in the world is sitting there available, you use him.
Jim Mulvihill: Yes, absolutely. All right, well, Dale, hang on and we’re going to check and see what other questions the media has for you.
Danny Brewer: So talk about Finnegans Wake for just a moment. Typical Dale Romans horse; a flat warrior. He goes to battle. He isn’t scared. So is this his time, you think? Like you said, I mean he won the Arlington Handicap last out, so maybe is this his time?
Dale Romans: If things go his way, this horse is going to run really big on Saturday. He has as good of works as he’s ever had on Sunday. The Arlington Classic I hope was the breakthrough that he—we were looking for in him. He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with at a price. We know it’s going to be at a price and we know things have to go his way, but he couldn’t be doing better. He couldn’t come into the race any better, and I feel really good about him.
Danny Brewer: Talk about the relationship that you have with Finnegans Wake. We’ve talked about some of your other horses. Talk about knowing this horse and the relationship that you and he have.
Dale Romans: Well, you know, he’s a neat, neat horse. He’s just—he’s not a great pedigree, and you could pick him apart on confirmation and looks, but he’s just a big old lug that’s—never has a problem that Tammy gallops—has galloped every day since he was a two-year-old; breezes him almost every breeze. I’ve known him since—I’ve got a picture on my phone of him two days old at the farm Jerry Crawford said, who do you want to breed the mare to, and I picked maybe what’s turned out to be one of the worst sires of all time in North America, but he was a good race horse and he gave me a good horse.
Danny Brewer: Now talk about how in the past you’ve done this. I know you’ll set another race up with a previous race, so is (inaudible) been something that’s important for all these horses where you maybe run today but actually you’re thinking down the road? Does that ever happen with some of your horses?
Dale Romans: Well, yes, it happens. It happens all the time. You can use a race as a training tool. You want to win them all, but I know I’ve entered a lot of horses I think that probably are up against it and have to get a little lucky to win, so you use that race as more of a training tool. But you don’t use the Arlington Million to prep for anything. I mean this is as high as it gets. This is the pinnacle of racing in America. In my opinion it’s one of the—to me it’s the greatest turf race in America. I just have always been a big fan since John Henry and The Bart hit the wire together. I still say The Bart won. But it was a race I always wanted to win. Little Mike got me there and now I want to win it twice, and I’d love to do it with Finnegan and Jerry Crawford.
Danny Brewer: So now that you’ve gotten a taste of it, you want more of that pie, right; more of that Arlington Million pie?
Dale Romans: That’s the problem with this game. The more you get the more you want. You have to keep going back for that high. When you’ve won races like the Arlington Million and Preakness, you just want to go back and do it again and again and again. That’s the great thing about this game.
Jim Mulvihill: Dale, can we just get an update on a couple of your other stars that we’ve talked about before? Maybe first tell us if Silver Max came out of the Fourstardave all right?
Dale Romans: He did come out. He came out of the race in good shape. I really don’t have an excuse, and I’ve quit trying to look for one. We’re just going to train on; draw a line through the race. Like I said in a couple of interviews, I left there, you know, very disappointed, but as the night went on I started thinking how silly that is. Here’s a horse that’s given me 12 wins and $2 million—a $20,000 yearling. He doesn’t owe me anything. So if he decided to have a bad day, he’s earned it. We’ll regroup, train on him a little more, and find a spot to run him.
Jim Mulvihill: Absolutely. How about Medal Count?
Dale Romans: You know, that was one of the strangest races I’ve ever been involved in, and—the Haskell that day, and he came out of the race in good shape. He’s actually going to work tomorrow, so we’ll see how he breezes tomorrow. He came back good. He’s doing good, and if he breezes well we’ll start looking for a place to run him; probably on the turf.
Jim Mulvihill: Great. Well, that’s good news, too. Well, Dale, thank you for joining us once again. Always a good time talking to you, and we wish you luck this weekend. We’ll see you in Chicago.
Dale Romans: Thank you. Hopefully we’re talking again soon. That means we’re going in the right races.
Jim Mulvihill: Exactly. All right, thanks very much. That’s Dale Romans.
Now we’ll roll into our fourth and final guest, and that is Anna Seitz. Anna handles marketing and client relations for Fasig-Tipton. She’s a Kentucky native. Her family owns and operates Brookdale Farm. Prior to joining Fasig-Tipton she spent three years with Todd Pletcher’s administrative team. Last year she generated a lot of buzz when her all female syndicate called It’s All about the Girls, they had the popular graded stakes winner, I’m Already Sexy—I’m sorry, that’s the one we’re talking about today. We’re going to talk about It’s Already Sexy, and we’ve got Anna Seitz here. Anna, Jim Mulvihill in New York talking to you. Thanks for joining us.
Anna Seitz: Thanks, Jim. Thanks for having me. How are you doing?
Jim Mulvihill: I’m doing great. It’s always fun to get a chance to talk to all these interesting folks, including yourself. Before we get into your horse and your owners, I actually wanted to start asking you about Wayne Catalano. I’m sure you’ve been in touch with him, so before we get into everything else, maybe you could just give us a quick update on Wayne.
Anna Seitz: Absolutely. I spoke to him yesterday afternoon, and it was the best that I’ve heard him since this whole—since he got sick. He actually told me yesterday that he gets to leave to go home from the hospital today, so that is great news. He sounded like himself. He was more energetic sounding. He sounded, you know, he’s just always joking around and happy and that’s how he sounded yesterday for the first time, so it was really promising to hear him just in good spirits. He said he still doesn’t have a lot of energy, and, of course he said I’m going to the barn on Wednesday. I said, you’re crazy, Wayne, you can’t, but he just—he wants to be there so bad that it’s just killing him to be away from it. So all signs are looking good. He is recovering now every day better. He’s been doing a lot of physical therapy and his rehab has been going really well, so thank God he’s through the worst of it now and we just have to keep him from working too hard so he doesn’t get sick again. That’s my only concern.
Jim Mulvihill: That is great news just to hear that he’s coming home. When you have a horse going—pointed towards a Grade 1 race and your trainer’s in the hospital, I mean how has the barn been working? I have seen it’s still a seamless operation even under those circumstances.
Anna Seitz: You wouldn’t—no one looking in from the outside would even have noticed that he wasn’t there. I mean obviously he’s such a big personality and such a big part of it, but he’s trained his assistants so well to know what to do that it was just it was like clockwork. They all just stepped into the role and they all helped each other. They call it their, you know, Fernando is his main assistant. He’s at the Arlington Racetrack and he is just fantastic. So he helped the other assistants. Calamity’s at Monmouth and he kind of called her and he actually went and visited with her. He called me all the time and he kept trying to talk to me about my filly. And hopefully all of the owners are kind of the same way as we were, and we just said, this horse does not matter right now. We don’t need to worry about her. As long as she’s alive and well, I’m fine with that. You just—I just want Wayne to get better, and he just—they’re so dedicated to their job. They just continued to win races and they just did such an awesome job while he was gone it gave me even more confidence to know that—I always knew I had the right trainer. But then to see how great his assistants were in a crisis like that, and how much they love Wayne was like the best. It was very special to like see how much they really love him as a person and it was really nice to kind of see how they stepped in and were pulling for him and just to work so hard for him and to do so well while he was absent. So I know they’re happy to get him back and be able to talk to him every day now.
Jim Mulvihill: No, I’m sure, and that’s not surprising. I think everybody loves Wayne. Well, let’s talk about the filly now. You know, how is she doing? I mean what are you hearing from Wayne’s team? How is she training and how is she coming into this very tough
Anna Seitz: She’s great. She breezed—she’s doing really well. She breezed a beautiful five eighths. Obviously I’m up in Saratoga for our sale. I’m going home today, but I couldn’t go, but she had a really, really nice turf breeze. Florent Geroux was on her again, who’s won on her all these times in Arlington, and he said I didn’t even ask her, she just did it in 59 (ph) flat on her own, because we’re always trying to get him to slow her down a little. He said, that’s just what she does. I didn’t even—I sat completely still and I tried to hold her, and she just does what she does. So all systems are saying she’s doing really well. Florent and Fernando said she looks fantastic, and I think she’s coming into really peak form right now. This is obviously a really tough race. It’s been—this has been hard for me, because managing a syndicate for Hit the Board Stables, and, you know, you want to put them where they belong, but she just loves Arlington so much, and even though there are really, really nice fillies coming, kind of like, you know, Fernando and Wayne say sometimes you’ve just got to take a chance and you’ve just got to go have some fun and see what happens, so I think we’re going to go for it. I think they draw here in just a couple hours, so hopefully we get a good post position.
Jim Mulvihill: Excellent. Well, that’s all very encouraging news. Now let’s talk about your ownership syndicates. I mean you’ve done quite a bit here in the last couple of years to raise the profile of horse ownership, and we’ve talked before about It’s All About the Girls, and now we get to talk about Hit the Board, who is—these are all new owners. So tell me how these—how this group got together?
Anna Seitz: Well, we bought—I’ve always wanted to own race horses, because my whole family is in the horse business, but obviously I couldn’t afford to do it by myself. I always wanted to help the industry get new owners, and I thought, you know what, I can do this in a way that can be—just be fun. That’s my whole motto is to make it really fun and to make it educational, and to not take ourselves too seriously. So I raised a little bit of money and I called Bob Feld, who is our bloodstock agent and a great friend of mine, and I just said, I think I have $20,000. Do you think you can buy me a horse? So he came to the October sale when she was a yearling and he picked out about 10 or 20 horses, and I tried to buy one on the first day and I got outbid, and I cried because I said I’m never going to own a horse, because I loved this horse. Then the very next day this beautiful (inaudible) filly like she comes into the ring and I loved her, and we vetted her and we got really lucky. It’s kind of funny. My husband and I realized afterwards that we were bidding against each other, so we might’ve gotten her for $18,000 but we bid against each other so we had to pay $20,000. So like we’re rookies going into this just trying to make it.
So we bought the horse, and afterwards I started calling all my friends that I knew who had said, I live in Lexington Kentucky or I live here or I live in New York and I want to own a horse, but I’m scared. How do I do it? So I called all those people and I said, you want to own a piece of this little filly; she’s really pretty? A lot of people brought in other people and that’s how it all formed. So we had about—I think about 18 people to start, and we had a party where we all went out and drinking beer and they named her and we designed the silks, and it’s just been—we do it all kind of together as a group. We always have—when she runs on big days we always have what I call Redneck champagne brunches where we go to the barn in the morning and we drink champagne right of the bottle and we eat breakfast sandwiches and hang out with her. We just try to make it fun, because usually the afternoons are, you know, you don’t usually get a really good horse your first time, so we tried to make sure that we enjoy the whole experience of horse ownership. They ask me lots of questions, and I try to introduce them to good people in the industry. Some of them actually have gone on to claim horses and buy mares and they’re breeding now, and that’s what I wanted to happen. I’m happy when they go on to do more, because I don’t really have time to do a ton of these, so I want them to feel confident enough that they have enough knowledge and experience that they could go on and hook up with other good people and do more, and it seems to be working..
Then I launched It’s All About the Girls, which is 40 women, and Catalano trains for us. That one was a—we’ve had a blast; like these women are fantastic. We actually have a two-year-old that’s about to start next Saturday at Monmouth Park who is doing really, really well. So the women, they’re great. They’re—they love—they’re engaged in the process, but they also kind of let me do my thing and they don’t really question, and it’s really, really fun. I’m hoping I’m helping the industry by bringing new people in, and hopefully they continue to go on and want to own horses or at least bet on them or go to the races. That makes me feel like I’ve done my part for the sport.
Jim Mulvihill: Right. Well, yes, I’d say you’re doing quite a bit for the industry. It’s interesting because you make it sound so easy just calling up people and bringing new owners into the game, but we know as an industry that it’s really not easy. So what do you think—what is it about your partnerships, you talked a lot about the fun, but what separates, say, your program that has made it so easy to attract people who maybe didn’t know what they were getting into?
Anna Seitz: I don’t think—I’m pretty much an open book. I don’t—I try not to make it intimidating. I don’t know, there’s a lot of great partnerships out there, but obviously having a good horse puts everybody on the map. I think they just love the fact that they can call me any time, and they text me, and we all get together and they can go by the barn. Also, I should say, most of the beauty of it is having a horse with Wayne Catalano, because he is fantastic. He lets people come by the barn. He takes selfies with my filly and sends it out to people. He always is happy. He hugs everybody, and he’s so—he’s such a great trainer for new people. It’s been a lot of fun having a horse, but I think he’s made it a big part. He’s such like a—he’s so funny and he goes out with us and he goes dancing and they have a good relationship with him as well. I really believe that that’s a big part of it. Our whole team I think is fun and I think people like—they feel involved, because the mornings are just as much fun as the afternoons. Watching her train is just as exciting as, you know, going in the afternoon. I don’t know, I think it’s just a mix of things of I just really try to keep it light, so hopefully I’m doing my part.
Jim Mulvihill: Yes, well, it—I mean you’ve got a full time job. You mentioned you’re up in Saratoga and you’ve been there for the sales. You know, is this something you think you can take further? I mean do you hope to—I know you said you don’t have a lot of time to devote to it, but do you think this is something you can grow?
Anna Seitz: I have a lot of people asking me when can I get in? When are you buying another horse? It’s hard, because I am so busy with my job. I love working at Fasig-Tipton and I travel a ton for Fasig-Tipton. It actually works out like a lot of times I have horses where I have to go for the sales anyway so I can pop in and see them, you know, and that kind of thing. But it’s hard. My husband’s a huge help. He does all of the bookkeeping. He helps me keep track of all the stuff on that end. But if I took it further, I probably would just have to hire somebody and just have them trying to oversee a lot of the details. But I feel like if I don’t take it further and those people don’t get in, then, you know, might be turning away the next big owner that 10 years down the road is owning a whole bunch of horses by themselves and putting a lot of money into the sport. So I don’t want to turn anybody away, but at the same time I don’t want to be so thin that I just can’t be doing everything in the best way possible. But for now it seems to be working. And I love the Fasig-Tipton October sale. That’s where I got I’m Already Sexy. That’s where I got a Congrats filly that we (inaudible), so we got four (inaudible). So I always tell everybody we’re going to shop the October sale and maybe we’ll just buy two or three. I can’t say no, so basically, yes, it’ll probably continue to grow. Against all odds, I think it will.
Jim Mulvihill: Yes, right. Are many of your partners going to be in Chicago this weekend? Will we see them there?
Anna Seitz: They are. There’s a big group of us heading up. Yes, I think there’s probably going to be 10 or 15 of us going, and we’ll have a good time at the barn in the morning, and then we usually try and do a fun dinner afterwards and just enjoy Chicago. Mr. Duchossois does such an awesome job. Every time we’ve run there, even though we’ve never run in a race like this, he still makes an effort to come and shake my hand and shake the partners’ hand, and they show us like the best hospitality. Arlington just lays out the red carpet. It seems like I’m Already Sexy is a hero at Arlington and people love her there, so I’m excited to go back with her; Arlington does such a nice job putting on Million Day. So we got lucky and she won the Hatoof on this day last year, and it was fun. Even though it wasn’t a graded stake they treated us really well. We got to drink champagne and the owners felt really special, so we’ll be back.
Jim Mulvihill: They do a great job at Arlington, and hopefully you’ll get a chance to shake Mr. D’s hand not only when you get there, but perhaps in the winner’s circle after the Beverly D.
Anna Seitz: I just wanted to mention one little thing. On Saturday Florent Geroux —his pants are going to have a little pink B on the side of his legs. One of our partners—it’s kind of a sad story, but they have a three-year-old daughter that was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor and her name is Bennett. They’ve been through a lot right now, and we’re trying to just get everybody that’s following I’m Already Sexy to take a little minute to say a prayer for Bennett because she’s going through a really hard time. I know the parents are really struggling, but we just want everybody to kind of think of her. You know, we’re stressing about this horse and this race, but then we know that our partners are going through—obviously Wayne’s been sick and now the Lesters have been dealing with this big struggle, so we’re definitely pulling for them and their beautiful little daughter and praying, and we hope that everybody can take a minute just to think of them on Saturday, because that’s a little more important to us than a horse race. So I just wanted to tell the Lesters that we’re really thinking of them, and hopefully the filly will run well for her.
Jim Mulvihill: Well, thank you. That’s a beautiful gesture. That’s Bennett Lester?
Anna Seitz: Bennett Lester and her parents are Billy and Katie Anne Lester. They’re in our group; in our partnership, yes.
Jim Mulvihill: All right, all right. Well, thank you, again, Anna, and…
Paul Mazur: Thank you for taking my question, Ms. Seitz. What do you think of—I understand with Mr. Catalano in the hospital it’s a tough question to possibly answer, but have you sketched a small plan for your breakthrough winning I’m Already Sexy?
Anna Seitz: That’s a great question. We haven’t because I just felt like it wasn’t appropriate to bring it up. The Wayne trains anyway, he always takes it one race at a time, so I guess we’re just going to kind of see how this Saturday goes, and if we should be mapping it out after that then we’ll talk to him next week. I felt like I just didn’t know how to bring it up, and honestly, I just feel like she’ll tell us on Saturday kind of what she wants to do and we’ll go from there. So it’s probably not the best managing job, but I feel like, Wayne, he’ll tell us what he wants to do.
Paul Mazur: Understood. Good luck with I’m Already Sexy on Saturday in Arlington.
Anna Seitz: Thanks, Paul. Thank you and we’ll see you there.
d McNamara: Hi, Anna. Thanks for coming on. I always wondered why people who were extremely successful and are horse owners, they always say that when they see one of their horses take the lead in the stretch, it’s their biggest thrill; much bigger than, you know, being successful in business or whatever. Can you talk about that a little bit; that rush?
Anna Seitz: Absolutely. I don’t know if you saw the video, but when I watched the Modesty, —I couldn’t go because I was at our horse sale, and someone recorded me watching I’m Already Sexy at the top of the stretch, and I went absolutely crazy. I was screaming and jumping in a restaurant. It’s the best feeling in the world. Like it is the thrill of just—I don’t know how to explain it. The emotions that come over you to see a horse that just lays it all out there and to see her beat those other 13 fillies was probably one of the greatest moments of my entire life. My heart starts racing and I get emotional thinking about it. I was the same way when she broke her maiden. It’s just the best thrill, and I think that’s why people are attracted to this sport, and it is better than—when we have a great horse sale at Fasig-Tipton it’s exciting, but when she won that Modesty and I went crazy and that video went viral all over the Internet, it shows there’s nothing in the world that can give you the thrill of winning a horse race. It doesn’t matter what kind of race it is, just winning one is the best.
Ed McNamara: It seems to me it must be something hardwired into our DNA from, you know, millions of years ago that maybe it’s like when you see your horse winning it means like the horse you were riding on a million years ago escaped from the saber-toothed tiger or something. I don’t know. There just seems to be something very magical in the there that I’ve (cross talking).
Anna Seitz: I know. I can’t explain it either. There’s no theory, but, man, it makes you act like crazy people, and I sure did in the Modesty. I attacked everybody in the bar, and then I almost fainted, and then I almost threw up. It’s just that feeling of, I don’t know what. I had nothing to do with it; it was all her, but I felt like I was right there with her and she did it for us. So, you’re right, 100%.
Ed McNamara: All right, well, thank you. I’ll try to find that video. All right, good luck on Saturday.
Anna Seitz: Thank you so much.
Jim Mulvihill: All right, just for the record, for anybody who wants to go see that video, it is on YouTube, and you just can search for The Thrill of Victory is the title that it has on YouTube. It is really fun to watch, and, Anna, I think it demonstrates a lot of what you’ve been talking about today. Thanks again for joining us and good luck in Chicago.
Anna Seitz: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.