Eric Wing: Welcome indeed to this NTRA Communications National Media Teleconference.
Another important weekend on tap as we get closer to the Triple Crown. On Saturday, a pair of Grade 2 events on the dirt: the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs, of course, and out west the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. Also, we’ve got a grass event that has some Kentucky Derby implications, and that would be Sunday’s Grade 3 $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream.
A little bit later in the call we’ll check in with trainer, Eddie Kenneally, who will send out the Sam F. Davis winner, Battle Hardened, in the Tampa Bay Derby. And we’ll also talk to Mike Harrington, who has a pair of very intriguing candidates for the San Felipe in Creative Cause and Empire Way. First up, though, we’ve got with us Dale Romans, who has last year’s Breeders’ Futurity winner, Dullahan, ready to make his three year old debut in Sunday’s Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream. Dale, it’s Eric Wing. How are you today?
Dale Romans: I’m doing well.
Eric Wing: Glad to hear it. Well, Dale, it looks like you’ve chosen the same Palm Beach to Bluegrass path to the Kentucky Derby that worked so well for Paddy O’Prado a couple of years ago. Is this a simple matter of sticking with what’s worked in the past?
Dale Romans: Yes, I think we’re all creatures of habit, and it did work for us with Paddy, and this is a horse who’s proven that he can run on the turf and the synthetics winning the Grade 1 at Keeneland, so it made sense.
Eric Wing: And, Dale, Dullahan is a half brother to Mine That Bird, who was a very lightly made horse and pretty easy on himself; perhaps that helped him get the longer distances. Is that how Dullahan is as well?
Dale Romans: Well, he’s not a big robust horse, but I think he’s a little bigger than Mine That Bird. I’ve seen—I’ve seen a couple of the foals out of the mare, and I thought that he was her best individual. And, you know, he’s just such an easy mover just like Mine That Bird was. He covers a lot of ground, and he’s very easy on himself.
Eric Wing: And before we throw it to the media, Dale, Dullahan wracked up a bunch of graded earnings last year, not just with the Breeders’ Futurity win, but—you know—fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that’s worth $120,000. Does that take some pressure off as a trainer in terms of allowing you to plot the path that you absolutely like the most for a given horse?
Eric Wing: Well, it does, but it’s a different kind of pressure. The last couple of years we were scrambling to get horses into the Derby, and get them into the right races to get enough purse money. It’s a little different type of pressure when you have a horse that’s already banked the money, and now you just have to keep him safe and sound and get your few races in before the big race.
Danny Brewer: Hey, the versatility of Dullahan, is that one of his really strong assets?
Dale Romans: I think it is. And I think this—you know—like Paddy O’Prado, he’s proven he can run on anything. He ran a monster race on the poly at Keeneland, and he’s run some really nice turf races, and his race in the Breeders’ Cup was sneaky good. I don’t know if people picked up on how good it was. I mean he got really squeezed. He shut off in the first turn, was all the way back to last, and showed a big run down the lane on the dirt. So he is very versatile, and that’s a good thing in any horse.
Danny Brewer: Now, you had a lot of success there at Churchill, and him having that good run, is that something that you put a lot of stock in his Breeders’ Cup, do you (inaudible) that is?
Dale Romans: Repeat that one more time. I couldn’t hear the end of it.
Danny Brewer: Did you put a lot of stock in him running good at Churchill in the Juvenile last year?
Dale Romans: Yes. I thought that he proved to me and to the whole ownership group of Donegal that he can run with the best horses in the world on the dirt. You know, so he kind—we were kind of wondering ourselves if he was going to be a poly or turf specialist, but the race he ran in the Breeders’ Cup I thought was as good as any race he’s run, and proved he can run on the dirt.
Danny Brewer: Dale, I appreciate your comment. I wish you the best of luck.
Dale Romans: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from Jennie Rees from Louisville Courier-Journal. Please go ahead.
Jennie Rees: Dale, you’ve called the Juvenile sneaky good. Could you just kind of also comment through the filter of what—you know—Handsome (ph) came back and won, Union Rags just won the—you know—the Fountain of Youth quite impressively, and—you know—we’ll see what Creative Cause does in his next race, but just maybe the competition, and does that come into play at all in your assessment of the race?
Dale Romans: It does. I think that it was a quality race. There was the—some really good horses. I think it’s a good group of three years olds from what I’ve seen around the country; some pretty impressive performances, and Dullahan showed he can run with them. It was a—like I said, it was a little better race than it looks like on paper. Anybody who watched it up close saw the trouble he got in early and saw the ground he made up on a speed (inaudible)—a little bit of a speed (inaudible) racetrack, so I was impressed with him. I’m impressed with this whole crop. I think it’s a bunch of good three year olds.
Jennie Rees: Now, speaking of the crop, you lost one of the—you know—horses that would’ve been one of the favorites in O’Prado again. The (inaudible) to injury, and then just in the last week and a half we’ve had two of the favorites go by the wayside. Does it make you hold your breath when you show up at the barn in the morning?
Dale Romans: Well, you hold your breath any time you have these top caliber horses like this. I mean they—to lose a horse like O’Prado, again, was a big blow to the stable. Fortunately, he’s going to be back. He’ll be back late summer running again, and it wasn’t career ending. But—you know—you’ve got such a tight window to get a horse to the Triple Crown, that—you know—you can’t have any bumps in the road, and we’ve been very fortunate with Dullahan that he hasn’t had any problems. A little bit of a cough down here for a couple of days, but other than that, there hasn’t been any bumps in the road.
Jennie Rees: Speaking of tight windows, Paddy O’Prado broke his maiden in the Palm Beach I believe it was, and then this horse of course broke it in the Breeders’ Futurity, Battle Hardened broke his in the Sam Davis. What is it like for you when you have horses like this? At a certain point do you just say we can’t wait around on another maiden race, we think they’re good enough; we’ve got to go on with it?
Dale Romans: Well, my personal philosophy, I’ve run quite a few maidens in stakes and it’s been to try to time their big effort. When you see them turning the corner and getting better and they’re training very well, just go ahead and hope that their big effort comes in that stake instead of having to see it in an allowance race and then move on to a stake. And we’ve been lucky—you know—taking that path with some horses.
Jennie Rees: And do you have a sense of—you’ve raced on all three surfaces, which is his best? You talked about versatility, but like Paddy O’Prado ended up being a superior grass horse.
Dale Romans: Yes, Paddy O’Prado I think was a little better on the grass. I think this horse is—personally, I feel like he’s going to be his best on the dirt. I thought—like I say, I thought the race at Churchill was maybe his best race that he’s run, and I think he’s—you know—the grass and the synthetic, we know he likes them both, and they’re going to be easier on him as stepping stones to get to the Derby, and that’s why—another reason for taking those steps. But I think in the long run, his—the dirt is going to be his surface.
Jennie Rees: Final question. I assume you were involved in the purchasing process at some point with this horse
Dale Romans: Yes, Jerry Crawford put the whole team together for Donegal’s purchases at the yearling sale, and there’s a big group of us. And then the final say is always Jerry’s, but we go through and end up with—he does a pedigree analysis, and we’ve got several steps we go through, and this was one of the horses that jumped through every hoop perfectly.
Jennie Rees: Did he jump through an extra hoop because he was a half to a Derby winner? I mean how much more appealing did that make him as a yearling?
Dale Romans: Well, it was very appealing to us and to me, and the fact that we knew the family and we thought that he was probably the best looking yearling that the mare had had. And she’d already had a derby winner and a very productive allowance horse that (inaudible) had, and I thought this was the best of her foals. So that had quite a bit to do with it. If you can get a half to a derby winner, you should try to get it.
Jennie Rees: And this is my really, really final question. What about—you know—no mare has ever had two Kentucky Derby winners. Were those stats made to be broken, or…?
Dale Romans: Seems like it’s time for one to have one.
Jennie Rees: All right. Thanks, Dale.
Dale Romans: All right, okay.
Paul Daley: Yes, Dale. To follow-up on Jennie’s question, the Donegal Racing operation, it seems like it’s out of Ireland with the name Dullahan. Where does the name come from?
Dale Romans: I don’t know the story exactly right, so I might be wrong. The horse is by Even the Score. And from what I’ve been told, Dullahan is a character in Ireland that rode around on his horse with a sword made from a (inaudible) of the country. And so it kind of fit. He was evening the scores and the—Donegal does have Irish roots, and it was a pretty clever name.
Paul Daley: Okay, and…
Dale Romans: (Inaudible) credited to I guess Jerry Crawford.
Paul Daley: Okay. And he was a top seller at Keeneland in 2010 when the sire average was $37,000. What stood out for the connections to be able to—you know—pay that price for it?
Dale Romans: Well, the sire average was high, but I would venture to say that the average for mares that have produced derby winners was low. So—you know—you had a very strong mare, and we liked the cross, the mix were all right, and the stamina and the pedigree. Those were the things that stood out. That’s what we look for when we go to the yearling sale for Donegal.
Paul Daley: Okay, and last question is what did the workout last Saturday of a minute and three at Gulfstream tell you about this race?
Dale Romans: Well, it tells me he’s sharp and he’s ready to go. He’s actually turned the corner from two to three like you want to see a horse do, and he’s doing everything on his own right now. And I think he’s fit and ready. I mean—you know—this race isn’t the end all; we’re not going to squeeze the limit. We want to make sure that he’s peaking the first Saturday in May. But this—I’m expecting a big effort out of him.
Carol Holden: Hi, Dale. Thanks for joining us today. Most trainers seem to work backwards form the Derby with a horse. I was wondering if you did that, and at what point you realized you might have a Derby horse and you started working in that direction?
Dale Romans: Well, we always liked this horse, and everything we buy at the yearling sales we consider a Derby horse until they prove us wrong. This horse kept taking little steps in the right direction in his training and in his races, and then when we decided to run him in the Futurity at Keeneland and he ran such a big race, that’s when we realized that we have a legit contender. We’d already banked enough money, and start working back from there. The Breeders’ Cup was a pretty easy choice, and then really if you look at it, the Palm Beach and the decision—the big decision was just to only have two races before the Derby. And—you know—that was a lot of discussion with Jerry, and we decided that we thought two was enough for him, and that he would be peaking in his third race. And at that point, the Bluegrass and (inaudible) on the track seemed logical, and then took (inaudible) bringing him out in the (inaudible) as far as we could find, and the Palm Beach to me was a logical race to bring him out.
Carol Holden: You as a trainer like most trainers started out with claiming horses and that in your background. You have been very fortunate to step up into the national scene. What are some of the things that you can attribute to the fact that you have been able to make that step forward to the stakes company and that as opposed to some trainers just never seem to get out of the claiming ranks?
Dale Romans: I mean that’s a tough question to answer. You know, you said there’s some great horse trainers out that have trained in claiming horses that don’t get the opportunities that I’ve been fortunate enough to get. And I don’t know why they don’t, and I just feel fortunate to have had the owners come to me and give me the horses that we could develop into stake horses. And—you know—Ken Ramsey was a big part of that. He—when we started together he allowed me to have some really good horses, and gave me the confidence to run them in the big races. And then this—we were successful, and it’s just kind of grown from there. But you’re right, there’s a lot of great horseman trainers out there that aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
Carol Holden: Well, congratulations to you and continued success.
Dale Romans: Thank you.
Jon White: Dale, I wanted to talk to you about News Pending who ran such a good race in the Fountain of Youth. How’s he doing, and tell us your thoughts again on his race in the Fountain of Youth?
Dale Romans: Well, you know, he’s a horse that’s steadily improved also, and—you know—he was a long shot in the Fountain of Youth. I felt like he was going to run big he was just training so well, and I thought—I think that down the road, the further you go with him the better he’s going to be, and that’s why it was important to try to start getting some earnings. Now—you know—there really aren’t any races further than a mile and an eighth until that last group of preps, and then you’re just waiting for one big hit to try to get in. So we decided to give him one shot in the Fountain of Youth and it worked out, and he came out of the race in really good shape, and I think that he could be a contender.
Jon White: Is the plan to go on to the Florida Derby?
Dale Romans: That’s most likely what we’ll do, but we’re going to keep our options open and look around the country at all the preps that—and just make sure we pick the right one. But the Florida Derby right now would probably be the top of the list, but I have to talk to Mr. (inaudible) about it, and we’ll make a decision here in the next few days.
Jon White: What is he like physically, and what’s he kind of like personality-wise?
Dale Romans: Well, he’s a big, strong colt, and—you know—we gave $250,000 for him at the two year old sale, and—you know—his sire, Harlan’s Holiday, he’s really getting it done I think, and he’s—this is just a big, pretty, flashy black horse who’s got a very good head on his shoulders. Like all good horses; they’re all smart.
Jon White: You’ve been coming close to the Derby—Kentucky Derby. Just what would it mean for you to win the Kentucky Derby?
Dale Romans: Well, I mean it would be big. And there’s a lot put in—there’s always a lot talked about that I’m from Louisville and grew up right there on the backside of Churchill Downs, and I mean it would be—it would be the highlight of my career. But it would be for any trainer’s career. I don’t care where you come from or where you’re raise, if you’re in the thoroughbred business you want to win the Kentucky Derby, and—you know—it just—it puts you in the history books.
Eric Wing: Dale, Jon asked you about News Pending, I want to ask you about a couple of the other three year olds in your stable just to get an update. Finnegan’s Wake, who was third behind Handsome and My Adonis in the Wood and also Cozzetti, who I know you’ve thought had some potential at some point.
Dale Romans: Well, first of all, Cozzetti, I still think he has potential. I don’t’ think—I think he’s a horse that really hasn’t turned the corner for us yet that’s going to keep improving. Physically and natural ability is all there, he’s just got—it’s just got to click mentally for him. And we’re going to give him another big shot probably Tampa, and see if he can get on the Derby trail. I think Finnegan put himself on the Derby trail last week in New York. I thought it was a big effort out of him. And he’s another colt that just wants to run all day long, and it’s—you know—we’re just now getting to the point where the races are running as far as he wants to run, and I think we’ll probably end up back at the Wood. I’m going to talk to Jerry about it more. We talked about it a little last night, and we may end up back at the Wood to run a mile and an eighth.
Eric Wing: Okay, and so it looks good for Cozzetti running this Saturday at Tampa then?
Dale Romans: Yes.
Eric Wing: Okay. Well, Dale, thank you as always for being with us on these calls; always enjoy having you. And I guess we will wish you the best of luck not just in the Palm Beach with Dullahan, but also Saturday in the Tampa Bay Derby with Cozetti. Thanks again, Dale.
Dale Romans: Thanks for having me.
Eric Wing: That’s trainer Dale Romans. He’ll send out, as we mentioned, Dullahan, in the Palm Beach Stakes. That’s on Sunday, and that’s a stepping stone for that colt to go on to the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. And we also heard that Cozetti will throw his hat into the Tampa Bay Derby ring on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, when he’ll take on the likes of Battle Hardened, and Motor City, and the others.
And speaking of Battle Hardened, our next guest is trainer Eddie Kenneally. Eddie has something in common with Dale Romans in that, like Dullahan, Battle Hardened also broke his maiden in a stakes. Dullahan did so in the Breeders’ Futurity, and Eddie Kenneally did so with Battle Hardened in the Sam F. Davis stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on February 4th, and Battle Hardened will be searching for career win number two in Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby Battle Hardened, certainly on paper one of the horses to beat Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs in the Grade 2 $350,000 guaranteed Tampa Bay Derby.
Eric Wing: Eddie, welcome to the call. It’s Eric Wing in New York. How are you today?
Eddie Kenneally: I’m well, Eric. Thanks very much.
Eric Wing: Our pleasure. Thank you, Eddie. And it’s funny, we were talking earlier to Dale Romans about Dullahan who broke his maiden in the Breeders’ Futurity last year at Keeneland, and it’s always a gutsy move to run a maiden against winners let alone in a stakes. But Battle Hardened is owned by the very successful duo of Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier. Did that make your decision to run him as a maiden in the Sam F. Davis all the tougher in that you’d have to explain it to Mr. Tabor and Mrs. Magnier?
Eddie Kenneally: Well, we certainly want to do good for all of our clients, as well as Mr. Tabor and the Magniers, and whatnot. And—you know—when you’re dealing with a horse of this caliber, and we feel like he’s got enough ability and quality to get to the Kentucky Derby, and he’s moving forward and improving all the time, and we’re kind of running out of time from a graded stakes earnings point of view if we wanted to take a run at—or look at the Kentucky Derby, so we felt like he’s an improving horse and he’s still a maiden, and he didn’t have any graded stakes earnings, and this was back in the January/February time, and looking at the Sam Davis race, it didn’t look like it was coming up super tough, so we looked at it real close, and we thought we’d take a shot at it. Because the option was to run him in a maiden race at Gulfstream, and we felt like even if he was to win the maiden race at Gulfstream, we still might be playing catch-up if we were trying to get to the Kentucky Derby. So we—at the end of the day, we chose to go to Tampa and run in the Sam Davis, and it worked out well; got the job done, and now we have a little cushion, let’s say.
Eric Wing: That you do. It was obviously a great gamble and a great decision on your part, Eddie. The water gets a little deeper this Saturday with horses like Take Charge Indy, Motor City, Spring Hill Farm among the probables. Is this the race that you think will tell you that you indeed have a Kentucky Derby horse, or might tip off how you might expect to do in Kentucky?
Eddie Kenneally: Definitely. We’ll learn a lot more again about our horse on Saturday, because you’re right, it is a tougher group of horses. But our horse went over there to Tampa from Palm Meadows and handled the surface really well, and sometimes that can be a little difficult shipping into Tampa. So he’s already jumped that hurdle successfully. So now he’s faced with a tougher group of horses for sure, but he’s improving, so I feel like we’re going in the right direction with this horse, and I think he’s ready to go.
Don Jensen: Yes, Eddie, you took Santiva to the Derby last year, and your first Derby horse. Can you compare how Battle Hardened—what stage of his career, how he’s—kind of shapes up with Santiva?
Eddie Kenneally: I can. Well, they’re two totally different horses even though they’re both sons of Giant’s Causeway. Santiva was a graded stakes winner as a two year old at Churchill Downs. He won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. And in his preparation for the Kentucky Derby, his first race he was second and the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. And we opted to run him in the Blue Grass, and—as his final prep for the Derby, and just didn’t have a great trip that day and just things didn’t work out for him. But he did run quite well in the Kentucky Derby, and he was beaten five lengths. He ran respectable actually.
Now, Battle Hardened, of course, a different type of a horse because he’s a bigger, slower maturing horse that hasn’t fully developed or matured yet, and I feel like he’s going to peak some time here in the spring, which would be ideal. So he didn’t really get to anywhere near his best until, let’s say, the 1st of January really. So he was still a maiden as a two year old, even though he did run twice. He was second in a couple of maiden races. So he hasn’t accomplished as much as Santiva had at this time, but I feel like he’s a horse that’s going to continue to improve, and hopefully at the end of the day he’ll have accomplished a lot more.
Don Jensen: Great. Eddie, also—you know—these horses are going to be a little bit tougher this Saturday. How is your confidence level with him compared to Santiva at his stage also?
Eddie Kenneally: I’m real confident with Battle Hardened, because I know this horse is—we haven’t seen the best of him yet. He’s just now starting to—like I said, he’s a big horse, he’s not fully reached his full potential just yet, so I feel like I’m very confident, because I—I have a good feeling about him that he will continue to improve as the races get tougher.
Don Jensen: And, Eddie, one last question. If you can win this race, it pretty much punches your ticket to the Kentucky Derby. Have you thought about that yet?
Eddie Kenneally: I’ve thought about it quite a bit certainly. We know the Tampa Bay Derby is eight weeks before the Kentucky Derby. We know that if he could win the Tampa Bay Derby that we would definitely, as you say, punched our ticket to go to the Derby. Then he’s got to continue to do well in the eight weeks between there and the Kentucky Derby, and most likely run one more time between Tampa and the Kentucky Derby. So we’ve got to look at all of that, but certainly we’ve taken it all into consideration.
Paul Daley: Yes, Eddie. I saw in a report that Julien Leparoux may be the jockey. Is that so? And also, if it is so, he’s also been—you know—named on Union Rags, and what do you do as far as jockeys are concerned?
Eddie Kenneally: Well, Julien knows the horse, and he is riding him in the Tampa Bay Derby. We—after that we’ll see what happens. We’ll just take one race at a time, but we’re delighted that Julien is available to ride him back in the Tampa Bay Derby after winning the Sam Davis. And as far as Union Rags goes, I mean he’s by far the legitimate leader of the three year old division right now, so at some point perhaps we’ll be looking for a rider. But we’ll just stick with what’s working for right now, and figure it out as we go forward.
Paul Daley: And I know it’s a case of musical chairs—you know—with riders at this time of year, but if things work out and Julien can’t ride, are there any other riders you’re looking at?
Eddie Kenneally: We’ll just find out where we’re racing next after the Tampa Bay Derby, and then we’ll find out who’s available and then we’ll go from there. So we’re not going to—we’re not going to dive in and name any rider at this point, because, frankly, we don’t know where we’re running, and we don’t know who’s available until after the fact. So as it all unfolds, we’ll figure that one out.
Jennie Rees: Yes, Eddie, you mentioned that this was a big horse and it’s going to take some time to hit its best stride. Did it surprise you it took four races just for him to break his maiden? He was close in all of them.
Eddie Kenneally: Yes, perhaps. I mean he was—Jennie, his races were good even though—his first three races were good; the two of them were seconds, and they were both two turn races. He was just a little bit unlucky not to have won in his third start, which was a maiden race at Gulfstream going a mile and an eighth. He was second beaten a head after an extremely wide trip So I felt like he could’ve and was the best—could’ve won that race and was the best horse in the race, but he just didn’t have any luck with the wide trip. So thankfully he redeemed himself and came right back and ran a huge race after that in the Sam Davis. So at the end of the day, it did work out okay, Jennie.
Jennie Rees: Looking at the company he’s kept, too, I mean those are like Indian Ambush, Najar (ph), how do you pronounce it? I mean it looks like he ran into some tough maiden races as well as being unlucky. I’m just saying—you know—that it looks like he’s been keeping good company.
Eddie Kenneally: Yes, and that’s kind of what you run into in the fall at Churchill first off. He ran in a couple of maiden races at Churchill at the fall meet, and typically you run into some nice two year olds in all of those races. And then, of course, the maiden race he ran in at Gulfstream Park, the horse that beat him he’s a pretty nice horse as well. So certainly he kept some good company, and—you know—he’s moved forward with each race, and that’s—I think that’s the key with this horse.
Jennie Rees: What do you think is his best running style? I mean do we know at this point? I mean he was pretty close in the mile and an eighth race at Gulfstream also (inaudible) does well. Do you think he’s just a natural stalker or do you think he’s still to be determined?
Eddie Kenneally: I would think that he’s kind of figured out how—his running style—or what running style he’s going to want to adapt in most races, so I think from this point (inaudible). And the two turn race is where there’s a little pace in the race, I think he’s going to be most comfortable when he’s sitting in the middle of the pack behind—not anywhere close to the (inaudible). If there’s absolutely no pace in the race, he’s got some tactical speed to where he can be relatively close. But I think if there’s legitimate pace in any of the two turn races, I think you’ll find him back in the middle of the pack somewhere, and I think that’s where he’s most comfortable and he’s a horse that doesn’t need to be rushed in the early part of the race. But at least he—that’s how he did it at Tampa. He settled nicely in like fifth—fourth and fifth position, nice little bit off the leaders and then came with a big run. So I’d like to think that that’s going to be his running style.
Jennie Rees: With the high profile defections to injury that we’ve had in the last week and a half, and Dale lost the (inaudible) winner, does it make you hold your breath when you come to the barn in the morning, or is that just a daily occurrence for trainers; you’re always holding your breath?
Eddie Kenneally: Yes, I mean we’re very much aware of how fragile these horses can be, and it’s happened to all of us with some quality horses over the years, and it’s part of it. But sometimes there’s only so much you can do to protect the horses. You still have to take them out to the track every day and train them, and try to do the best you can, and try to manage them as best you can, and oftentimes it’s just you get lucky and they stay sound, and you get unlucky and they don’t.
So we’ve been there before. We had a horse called Saratoga Sinner win the Holy Bull at Gulfstream a couple of years ago, and he had a fracture in his knee the following morning. So we’ve seen it both ways. So hopefully this horse is sound, so hopefully he’ll continue to be that way.
Jennie Rees: And what are his best attributes when you think ahead that makes sense? What do you particularly like about this horse?
Eddie Kenneally: Well, he’s got a great mental attitude, and he doesn’t get frustrated or upset with change or different circumstances that might occur. He seems to handle himself very professionally with whatever situation might come up. So that’s a big quality with a racehorse, and the ones with the good minds like this horse tend to end up being the better horses at the end of the day. So just his basic mental attitude is one of his best qualities. And his pedigree also says that there—he’s a tough horse that will improve, so that’s a great quality to have as well. The Giant’s Causeways tend to get better as they get more seasoning and more experience.
Danny Brewer: Hey, the continuing improvement this horse has showed, is that one of his greatest attributes you feel?
Eddie Kenneally: Absolutely, yes. He’s just a horse that we feel hasn’t peaked at all yet and certainly that is quality. I mean if I’m right, he’s—if he’s good right now, who knows how good he could be in two or three or four or six month’s time. So certainly that is—that’s definitely a quality.
Danny Brewer: Now as far as his maturity goes, that’s something that you’ve touched on also. What are you looking for in the Tampa Bay? Are you looking for baby steps or big strides?
Eddie Kenneally: Well, obviously he’s going to have to improve to win the race, certainly, and we feel—you know—the timing of the race is good, he’s had five weeks since the prep at the Sam Davis race. So certainly we feel that he needs to improve to win the Tampa Bay Derby, but we think he may have improved enough to where he’s going to be right there with these better horses on Saturday.
Danny Brewer: You talked about his mentality. Does he like to be challenged, do you think?
Eddie Kenneally: Well, I think he does. I mean I think he’s a horse that does try hard, and I think he’s a competitive horse, and he is a competitive horse, and I think—you know—he just didn’t win his first couple of races because he was just a little bit immature and not quite ready for it, but not because he wasn’t competitive or anything, it’s just that he just wasn’t quite ready or mature enough yet. But certainly I think now he is and I think he’ll give a big effort on Saturday again.
John Cherwa: You talked earlier about—you know—holding your breath every time you go to the barn, and—you know—with all your high profile horses. Is the stress greater because they’re young three year olds, or—and—you know—getting ready as possible Derby horses, or do you feel that about all your horses?
Eddie Kenneally: I think that all categories are susceptible to injuries. I think the two year olds, the three year olds, even the older horses, I think you just—at some point, it’s unfortunate, but at some point almost all of them are going to come up with some sort of an injury. Whether it be a minor injury or a career-ending injury, they’re athletes, and they will all eventually come up with some sort of an ailment or an injury, and—you know—our job is to try to prevent it and try to minimize the amounts of injuries that these horses sustain. But certainly I don’t think there’s any one category that you worry more about. I think we worry about all of them.
John Cherwa: Is there a point in—when you’re training a horse, whether they’re two, three or four where you’ve sort of intuitively found they’re just sounder—more sound than they might be at another time in their career?
Eddie Kenneally: Well, certainly I think as they mature and they develop they tend to be sounder. I think the young horses are more susceptible to injury certainly, but certain pedigrees as well, and certain confirmation types need more time to fully develop. So certainly the younger horses tend to be even more susceptible to injury, but they all, as I said earlier, they all can potentially come up with an injury at any time. But I suppose the young horses, the two year olds, would probably be the most vulnerable.
Eric Wing: Okay. Eddie, before we say goodbye, correct me if I’m wrong, but I just don’t recall in the last few years seeing you train horses very often if at all for Michael Tabor or the Magniers, and now I believe you have—you know—more than Battle Hardened for them. How many do you have for Tabor and the Magniers now approximately, and how did this professional relationship come about? I imagine it’s something that any trainer would like to have.
Eddie Kenneally: Well, certainly it would be, and at the moment, we’ve one horse for John Magnier and Michael Tabor, and this is the very horse I’ve had for Mr. Tabor. We’ve had other horses in the past that John Magnier was involved in the ownership of, but actually this is the very first one that we’ve had for Mr. Tabor. And, yes, we’re delighted to have them on board. They’ve had a lot of success in the business, and hopefully we’ll continue to train some more horses for them in the future.
Eric Wing: Yes, indeed. Well, Eddie Kenneally, thank you very much for spending part of your Tuesday with us. And it goes without saying, we wish you and your team the best of luck on Saturday in Tampa with Battle Hardened.
Eddie Kenneally: Well, thanks so much, and I appreciate it.
Eric Wing: Thank you. That’s Eddie Kenneally. He trains the winner of the Sam F. Davis Stakes, Battle Hardened, and he’ll be looking for two in a row Saturday when he faces Motor City, Take Charge Indy, and a host of others in the Tampa Bay Derby, a Grade 2 $350,000 race, again, on Saturday.
And that brings us to our third and final guest today, who will also have some action in Grade 2 stakes for the three year olds, but he on the West Coast, that’s trainer Mike Harrington, who has at least one and perhaps two horses ready to go Saturday in the San Felipe Stakes. He’s got Empire Way, who’s a half brother to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Royal Delta, and he’s also got Creative Cause, who worked a bullet four furlongs in 46 and two fifth seconds this morning at Hollywood.
And, Mike Harrington joins us now. Mike, it’s Eric Wing in New York. Welcome to the call.
Mike Harrington: Well, thank you.
Eric Wing: Mike, as I just mentioned, I know Creative Cause worked this morning, a bullet at that. Have you decided whether you’re going to run both horses in the San Felipe?
Mike Harrington: Yes, as of now, I’m going to run them both. Yes, they enter tomorrow, so.
Eric Wing: Okay, they enter tomorrow. And how much was that decision of yours affected by yesterday’s news that Out of Bounds had been injured?
Mike Harrington: Well, I was very sorry to hear he was injured. It really didn’t affect me because the timing—I didn’t want to run my two horses together, but the timing is such that I’m almost forced to do that, but. So I was going to run them even if Out of Bounds was in there, but I’m very sorry for those people that he’s injured.
Eric Wing: And, Mike, both of your horses have been ridden in—well, exclusively in the case of Empire Way and the last three times with Creative Cause, both horses have been ridden by Joel Rosario (ph). Have you decided who’s going to ride who?
Mike Harrington: Rosario will ride Creative Cause, and I’m not sure on the other horse yet, but Rosario will definitely ride Creative Cause.
Eric Wing: Okay, well no doubt your cell phone will be ringing very shortly then. Mike, Creative Cause and Empire Way, kind of two interesting but different horses. Creative Cause has been speedy and precocious from the get go it seems, Empire Way, a half to Royal Delta, has been more of a late bloomer. Have they forced you to use almost a left brain, right brain approach to training them? Is there much difference to how you train these two at this point in time?
Mike Harrington: Oh, yes, there’s definitely a difference. Not to correct you, but he actually is a full brother to Royal Delta.
Eric Wing: Full brother, thank you.
Mike Harrington: But anyway, yes, they’re different horses. Creative Cause is precocious; likes to train. Empire Way, he’s more—a little more laid back. He’s a later bloomer, so I don’t do as much with him. And so I definitely train them differently, yes.
Marc Doche: Hi, Mike, Marc Doche from Bleacher Report. Considering this is your first pair of serious Kentucky Derby contenders, how are you handling juggling two campaigns at the same time?
Mike Harrington: I’m sorry, but I had a really hard time hearing you. Could you repeat that?
Marc Doche: Yes, the question was considering these are your first pair of contenders on the Kentucky Derby trail, serious contenders, how are you handling juggling both campaigns at the same time?
Mike Harrington: Well, I guess it isn’t any worse having two than it would be one, so I really don’t have to juggle between the two of them, because like we said, they’re kind of different kind of horses.
Marc Doche: Do you have any other trainers that you can draw from as far as some guidance of how to handle the horses going to the Triple Crown?
Mike Harrington: Well, Jack Van Berg is my good friend; I talk to him. There’s—I mean I’m not trying to sound conceited or anything, but I think I kind of have a handle on how to get them there. If I can keep them sound, I think I can get them there.
Marc Doche: Now, I know that there was a third horse that Mr. Steinmann had bought along with these two. Can you give us an update with where that third horse is right now?
Mike Harrington: He worked seven eighths this morning in 1:26 flat, and he’s going to run not this week but next week if all goes well.
Marc Doche: And what’s his name?
Mike Harrington: French Storm.
Paul Daley: Yes, the first question is, Mike, on what will be the strategy if you do enter both horses and run both on Saturday as far as running styles?
Mike Harrington: Well, Creative Cause is going to—he’s not a frontrunner but he’s a stalker, and I expect quite a bit of pace in the race, and so he’ll be mid-pack and Empire Way will probably—he doesn’t need to be last, but he is going to be further back in the field. You know, they have completely different styles, so they’re not going to interfere with each other.
Paul Daley: Okay. And the other question I had is are there any distance concerns on Creative Cause?
Mike Harrington: Not really. I mean I think he’s breeding, and he’ll run all day. So it’s—no, I’m not concerned about it.
Danny Brewer: The west seems to be pretty wide open. Is that—does that play any factor in you deciding to run both horses in this race?
Mike Harrington: You think—you’re saying that San Felipe seems to be wide open?
Danny Brewer: No, I’m saying just the three year old thoroughbreds in general—you know—what with injuries and I know the Robert B. Lewis was won by a 43 to one shot. So it seems to be wide open, and there’s no prohibitive favorite. You know, on the East Coast there’s Union Rags is kind of the prohibitive. Out west, there really is nothing as far as a prohibitive favorite. Is that playing any factor in you running both horses in one race?
Mike Harrington: Well, no. Like I told the other gentleman, really the only reason I’m running them both in the same race is because of the timing. I had a plan for Creative Cause from the very beginning, which included this race, and Empire Way, I don’t really want to ship him out of town at this point in time, plus the timing is right on him also. So that’s just the main reason I’m running them both there is just because of the timing.
Danny Brewer: And Creative Cause, what kind of steps are you looking for him to take in the San Felipe as opposed to what he did last time out?
Mike Harrington: Well, I’m expecting him—I thought that was a very, very good race. Some people weren’t impressed with it, but he got exactly what I wanted out of it. He galloped out very strong. He’s come back and trained very well. The: 46 and two this morning was—I wanted him to work in :48 and change. He’s not much of a workhorse alone, and he worked a :46 and two without being asked, so it looks to me like he should step forward pretty nicely.
Jon White: Yes, Mike, getting back to French Storm, what are you—what are your expectations for him first time out?
Mike Harrington: Well, I don’t know. The other horses both won their first out. It would be really nice if he did, but he’s had some issues. He’s—I think he’s fit, but he might not be as fit as I would like him to be. You know, (inaudible) three year old maiden, open maidens, they get a little tough (inaudible) just keeps dragging him out there. He wins this one and drags another one out there. So—but he could (inaudible) very tough.
Jon White: And what’s he like physically?
Mike Harrington: He’s a very, very good looking horse. He’s an AP out of Il de France -pretty horse. He’s got good confirmation. He’s a very nice horse.
Jon White: You mentioned he worked seven furlongs this morning in Hollywood in 126. What can you tell us about that workout?
Mike Harrington: Well, it’s one of those things where things went right. A lot of workouts things don’t go right. He broke off by himself, and another horse broke off behind him, and I guess that horse was going seven eighths also, and the other horse trailed him at the quarter pole, and then moved up beside him, and my rider said that he just sat there and then about the sixteenth pole he just kind of moved his hands and my horse drew out; not by a lot, but my horse did win the workout, so the rider was very pleased with it.
Eric Wing: Mike, this is Eric again. You’ve bought—you have trained a lot of home breds, mainly Swiss Yodelers. There are a lot of Swiss Yodelers for Mr. Steinmann, but you bought Creative Cause out of a yearling sale in 2010 and Empire Way out of a two year old sale last year. Can you give us a little bit of background on what caught your eye or how you came to purchase these two nice horses?
Mike Harrington: Well, actually Creative Cause, I actually bought him, and he wasn’t—he was in a two-year and training sale and I actually bought him privately from Becky Thomas as a two- year-old. And she—she told me he was a really nice horse, and I’d really like him, and sent me some pictures, and I did like him. And the other horse, Empire Way, he was—you know—he’s a pretty horse, he was my kind of horse, and I just got really lucky that about two weeks after I bought him, Royal Delta started winning these Stakes. So—you know—it’s one of those cases where you got an immediate upgrade on your—on the family of something you purchased, you know?
Eric Wing: Yes, great timing on that one there, Mike. You and Heinz Steinmann had another excellent two year old back in 1996 in Swiss Yodeler, won the Hollywood Futurity plus four other stakes. Have the last nine months been even more exciting than what the two of you experienced back in ’96?
Mike Harrington: Well, yes and no. I mean in ’96 there was—you know—we’d just started and having a horse that won five out of his first six races, and you know, that was pretty (inaudible). At the time, we weren’t—you know—we enjoyed it, but as the years went by we realized how tough that was, you know. And even as good a horse as these two horses are, neither one of them have won five out of their first six, you know. So that was a pretty amazing feat with Swiss Yodeler, and (inaudible) he wasn’t a Derby contender, so it’s probably more exciting to have a few Derby contenders at this point in time.
Eric Wing: And the last question, Mike. As you sit out there on the West Coast and take stock of what’s happened in the three year old division so far, does it give you extra satisfaction or extra confidence to see how well the form of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile has held up thus far, specifically with respect to Handsome and Union Rags?
Mike Harrington: Well, that’s exactly what I told my owner, you know. I—Union Rags won impressively, Hansen came back and won nicely this weekend, and so the two horses in the Breeders’ Cup, they both ran very well, so that must—you know—must mean that we have a legitimate horse at this point in time.
Eric Wing: Well, Creative Cause has been nothing if not legitimate; he’s never run a bad race. And Empire Way looks to have his best racing in front of him as he progresses. Mike, we really appreciate you taking time out of your day to talk about your two horses with us, and we wish you best of luck with both of them on Saturday in the San Felipe.
Mike Harrington: Thank you very much.
Eric Wing: Thank you. That’s trainer Mike Harrington, who will send out two of the key horses in Saturday’s Grade 2 $300,000 San Felipe Stakes: Creative Cause, the third place runner in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and Empire Way, a full brother to Royal Delta come from behinder, second in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes behind I’ll Have Another on February 4th. And the two of those Mike Harrington charges will look to make more noise in the three year old division in the San Felipe out at Santa Anita
Well, that’ll bring an end to today’s call. I want to thank all three of our guests: Dale Romans, Eddie Kenneally, and Mike Harrington