To listen to the teleconference in its entirety, click here.

Jim Mulvihill:                        We’re now less than five weeks away from the Kentucky Derby and this is about as closely bunched a group of three year olds as we’ve seen to start the month of April.  We saw some impressive performances in last weekend’s first round of 170 point Championship Series races, but the public is still waiting for a clear cut Derby favorite to emerge.  Maybe we’ll find that horse this weekend in Saturday’s two major prep races; those are the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park.  Both of those races are Grade 1 events with $1 million purses at one and one eighth miles.  The Wood and the Santa Anita Derby will be featured on the NBC Sports Network’s live “Road to the Kentucky Derby” broadcast Saturday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Eastern.  The Horse Racing Radio Network offers live coverage of those same two races from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Sirius XM and the HRR and affiliates, or streaming online at


Also of interest this Saturday, keep in mind the Calder Derby is not a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race, but it will include the Tampa Bay Derby winner, Ring Weekend, trained by Graham Motion, who already has enough points for the Derby and will use that race as a softer final prep.


Also remember, this Saturday is the last big day of preps on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.  We’ve got four major 170 point stakes; the Gazelle at Aqueduct, the Santa Anita Oaks, the Fantasy at Oaklawn and the Ashland on the opening weekend at Keeneland.  Following those races, the only remaining points for the Kentucky Oaks will be available in the April 13 Beaumont at Keeneland.


Now later in this call we’ll talk to Steve Coburn.  He’s the co-owner of Santa Anita Derby favorite, California Chrome, and hopefully Ron Sanchez, who owns Wood contender, Social Inclusion.


First we’ve got Gary Contessa.  He’s trainer of Wood contender, Uncle Sigh.  Contessa is a native of Long Island.  He found his way to the racetrack in the 1970s, and cut his teeth as an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer, Frank Martin, before going out on his own in 1985.  Since then he’s amassed more than 2,000 wins and has developed a reputation for his eye with young horses.  Most famously, Contessa picked out Peace Rules for $35,000 and trained him to his first win at Saratoga before selling him for 10 times that amount.  Contessa also is President of the Exceller Fund responsible for the care of about 100 retired race horses.


Gary Contessa, you’re on with Jim Mulvihill.  Welcome to the call.


Gary Contessa:                   Hey, Jim.  Glad to be on.  Thank you.


Jim Mulvihill:                        We’re glad you’re here with us.  Uncle Sigh worked this morning at Aqueduct, so let’s start right there; a half in 47.3.  Just give us a report on how that went.


Gary Contessa:                   Well, yesterday morning at this time I would’ve never thought we were going to be working him today, but today was the day I wanted to work him, and Aqueduct was the place I wanted to work him.  We had a ton of rain.  All of a sudden yesterday afternoon, 1, 2 o’clock the sun came out, the wind picked up, everything went our way.  This morning on my way in about 4 o’clock in the morning I stopped at Aqueduct, checked the track over there; I was pleased with it.  Came back to Belmont.  Belmont was still very heavy and very muddy, so I made the decision about 5 o’clock this morning to take him to Aqueduct, and he had a great work.  The track was fantastic.  Again, Glen Kozak, the track Super, ran the tractors extra for me; made the track I mean absolutely pristine, and he went out there and worked like he has been all year.  He worked a half in 47.3.  The interesting part is he went the first quarter in 25 flat, and he came home in 22.3; I mean just effortlessly.  Nick Santagata was on him.  He iced it again; he did a great job for me, and the horse came back none the worse for wear.


Jim Mulvihill:                        All right, well that sounds like exactly what you would want.  Let’s talk about his last couple races.  He had a few very serious throw downs with Samraat, and, you know, he just missed in each of those.  But I think it’s worth noting that in the Gotham he was between horses the whole length of the stretch, and in the Withers he was on the inside.  Do you think those races could’ve turned out differently if maybe he was the one on the outside?


Gary Contessa:                   No doubt.  I don’t even know if it’s necessarily on the outside.  You know, in the Withers Samraat was low in speed, and we felt we were as good as Samraat, so we drew inside of him so we—my decision was to go to the lead.  One of the most interesting things, if you ever watch the head-on of the Withers it’s quite an interesting study in horses.  The entire time from the half mile pull all the way around the turn heading for home, Pablo Morales is constantly tapping him with the stick, constantly—driving me crazy as a trainer—constantly tapping him with the stick, and turns out, you know, we’re on the lead and Uncle Sigh is waiting for Samraat; just waiting for him, waiting for him.


Now, remember, he came out of a New York-bred maiden special and I threw him into the fire.  He went into the Withers and then the Gotham, so he’s a very inexperienced horse.  So we learned a lesson then that really he doesn’t want to be on the lead.  Come back in the Gotham with Nakatani, and we had a beautiful stalking trip.  Couldn’t complain about anything, except when we came up to engage In Trouble, we suddenly became sandwiched.  Jose Ortiz rode Samraat perfectly; put us in tight.  If you watch the head-on, from the top of the stretch to the wire, Nakatani cannot whip Uncle Sigh, because there’s no room.  His left boot is touching In Trouble, his right boot is touching Samraat, and it was—and my horse just ran on on pure guts in the middle.  So I absolutely believe if he could’ve gone to the whip or he had a little more opportunity to shuffle around a little bit, we could’ve turned the tables on him.  So we’ve had two very good stake races, but two troubled trips both—in both stake races.


Jim Mulvihill:                        Well, you mentioned his guts, and that’s something I want to talk about, because, you know, in both those races despite those tight quarters he’s been game all the way to the wire, and I think it’s one of the reasons this horse has so many fans coming into the Wood.  Just talk about his gameness, and, you know, the heart that he’s shown in both of these stakes efforts.


Gary Contessa:                   You know, like any athlete, you can’t measure determination in a horse.  You can buy the best looking horse who works the fastest time, but you can’t measure determination.  As I’ve learned in the sports field my whole life, I would rather fight a big, good looking opponent who is not as determined than, you know, your little scrapper who just is determined to fight you to the death.  That’s what Uncle Sigh is.  He’s got that instinct about fighting and fighting and not wanting to lose, and he’s really a neat horse because of that.  I have a colt in this barn that has beaten Uncle Sigh in the morning every time.  I mean they were workmates for the first part of their time together for the first two months, and that horse is still amazing.  You can’t measure determination, and Uncle Sigh, he just has the heart of a racehorse and he’s a very, very determined athlete.


Jim Mulvihill:                        Well, he’s raced close to the pace in all of these, and you’ve said that you’ve found that he probably doesn’t want to be on the lead.  Then you were describing this work today where he relaxes early and finishes strong.  Does that suggest that tomorrow he—or on Saturday there is a lot of speed in that race, we could see him more mid-pack and sitting off the pace a little more than we’ve seen before?


Gary Contessa:                   I would love to see that.  I’m not going to tell Nakatani what to do.  He’s done it before and he knows the horse now, which I think is an advantage to him, but I would love to see that.  I don’t think this horse has to be anywhere.  When I ran him three quarters in his maiden race he was more mid-pack early and he didn’t engage until late in that race, and I don’t think there’d be any problem running him like that.  So the key is somebody has to hook Social Inclusion.  He’s had two front-running victories.  I believe that horse has to be challenged or he’s going to be really tough to beat.  It may turn out to be that he’s tough to beat no matter what, but I would like to see him get challenged.  And it does—I agree with you that it does appear to be speed in here.  I would be just as happy to be laying back third, fourth, fifth as I would be, you know, chasing Social Inclusion.  I’d rather be working out a stalking trip if I can.



Danny Brewer:                    Uncle Sigh, does he have the versatility that you would like him to have right now?  Based on what you and Jim were talking about, it sounds like you think he can be pretty versatile.


Gary Contessa:                   That horse has one of the greatest minds of any horse I’ve ever trained.  I believe he could—if the situation arose, he would be as lethal coming from dead last as he would be chasing the pace.  I believe he is pushbutton, and Nakatani—and the only instructions I’m going to give Nakatani is you can do anything you want with this horse.  You know, and it takes a good-minded horse.  A lot of times you have frontrunners because they’re that kind of—they have that kind of mind.  They have a front-running mind; they’ve got to be upfront.  You have closers that just don’t have the mindset to have speed.  I believe this horse would do anything you want him to do.


Danny Brewer:                    Do you think that maybe he learned something from his two close defeats, because he faced adversity in both of those?  Do you think he learned anything?


Gary Contessa:                   Absolutely.  I think he has learned a lot.  Every day he’s developed, and it’s been very hard to develop a horse this winter in New York, because we have had no set training patterns.  The weather has really stuck it to us this winter.  But this horse, despite all the adversity, has really continued to develop.  I think he has learned something from every experience, and I just think he’s becoming the consummate racehorse.  I think he’s just getting better and better, not—he hasn’t hit his plateau at all.  I think you’re going to see a lot more from this horse as we go on in the year.


Danny Brewer:                    Okay, New York guy, he’s a New York horse, match made in heaven bound for a Kentucky Derby we think?


Gary Contessa:                   I hope so.  I’m not looking beyond Saturday.  You know, it seems to me this business loves to kick you when you’re down and kick sand in your face as most trainers will tell you.  I’m just looking at Saturday.  I mean there’s not a trainer in America that doesn’t want to go to the Kentucky Derby, so I think that sums it up, but right now, we have a major, major hurdle and that is the Wood Memorial.


Danny Brewer:                    He’s always run at Aqueduct.  Is that a real positive for him coming into this race?


Gary Contessa:                   Well, it’s a home field advantage.  I took him to Aqueduct today and worked him over the track.  He’s comfortable there.  He doesn’t have to van up from Florida like Social Inclusion.  He doesn’t have to fly up from Florida like Harpoon and Samraat.  I mean he just has to go 10 minutes from Belmont to Aqueduct.  So I think there’s some sort of advantage there.  You know, how much of an advantage I don’t know, because, boy, those guys coming out of Florida definitely had a weather advantage, that’s for sure.



Art Wilson:                           Gary, even though it’s only been two races, these two New York-breds, Samraat and Uncle Sigh, they are kind of starting to develop a little bit of a rivalry.  Can you just touch on what you think that means to the sport; and what kind of a boost it could give the sport?


Gary Contessa:                   I think every rivalry—I think anything that captures the attention of the general public in sports in general is a great thing.  I think this is a great rivalry for New Yorkers.  I mean it’s a friendly rivalry.  Rick Violette and I are friendly.  The horses, it’s been a great rivalry.  I mean I just love it.  I think it’s great.  I t ink you’re actually—if you come over to Aqueduct—if you saw the “Rocky”—if you go back to the “Rocky”, the first fight of “Rocky” they raised those banners; one is of Rocky and one is of Apollo Creed side by side.  They’ve done that at Aqueduct.  They have an Uncle Sigh banner on one side and Samraat on the other, so they’re promoting the rivalry which I love to see.  And it’s beautiful.  I mean it’s a huge 20 by 20 banner for each horse, and they’re kind of looking at each other, and it’s fantastic.  I think it’s very good for the public and it’s very good for the sport.


Art Wilson:                           Overall in the race, this is a top notch field.  I mean you’ve got four or five top colts in there and a horse that’s coming from California like Kristo is really flying under the radar.  What do you think of the field overall?


Gary Contessa:                   I think the field is the best field we’ve assembled in the three year old preps.  But I mean arguably somebody could say, no it’s not, but I think it’s the best prep field yet, and I truly believe that your Kentucky Derby favorite could come out of this field on Saturday.


Debbie Arrington:               Uncle Sigh has got such a memorable name, but is he named after a particular person?  What’s with the story on his name?


Gary Contessa:                   Yes, he is.  Now, I am guilty of not being a follower of the show, but there’s a show on TV called “Duck Dynasty”, which is like very, very popular, and one of the most popular—I don’t know if he’s beloved or he’s hated—characters on the show is Uncle Si, and he’s named for Uncle Sigh.  Chip McEwen is a big fan of the show, and they named him after that guy.


Debbie Arrington:               What is Uncle Sigh the horse like around the barn?


Gary Contessa:                   Uncle Sigh the horse is the coolest dude; probably one of the cooler horses that I’ve ever trained in my life.  Like last year at this time we were talking about Rydilluc.  Rydilluc would go to the paddock and he would put on quite a show.  People came just to see his show.  He was difficult, rearing up, carrying on; very stallionesque.  This guy, I said it and it probably sums it up the best, I believe somebody could sit on his back and shoot a gun and he wouldn’t flinch.  He’s Cool Hand Luke.  I mean he’s a very cool dude.  Nothing bothers him, never sweats; just the polar opposite of Rydilluc.  He’s a very cool, calm, collected horse, and just a wonderful horse to train.


Debbie Arrington:               Have you been paying attention to the other preps around the country, and who do you have an eye on?


Gary Contessa:                   Well, indeed I have.  The Florida Derby I think Constitution was awesome the other day, and he’s very lightly raced, and I really liked him coming into that race.  Cairo Prince we know he’s got a huge race in him.  Why he didn’t show it the other day we’re not certain, but he could show up and run a huge race at any time.  I’ve been, you know, I’ve been very impressed by a bunch of these horses.  Obviously, just like the rest of the world, I’ve been blown away by Social Inclusion and now I’m going to have to run against him.  There’s a horse that could be any kind of horse.  His numbers suggest that he could be any kind of horse, but he’s extremely untested.  So I look forward to Saturday.  I truly believe and, you know what, this business proves me wrong every single day, but personally, I truly believe your Derby favorite and perhaps your Derby winner could come out of this race on Saturday; one of these two races on Saturday.


Tim Wilkin:                           I just wanted to ask you, you are not convinced that Samraat is better than you, right?


Gary Contessa:                   No, I am not.


Tim Wilkin:                           Can you expand on that?


Gary Contessa:                   He has beaten me.  He beat me in the Withers on experience, and I think he beat me in the Gotham on trip, but I am not ready to say I don’t think he’s a great horse.  I think Samraat is a wonderful horse trained by a great guy and owned by a great guy, but I truly believe with a different trip, I could’ve won both those races, since you asked me.


Tim Wilkin:                           So do you think they’re even?


Gary Contessa:                   I do.  I think they’re even.  But I also believe we haven’t seen the best of Uncle Sigh.  I don’t know if we’ve seen the best of Samraat or not.  I think we’re as good as Samraat, but I think there’s more to Uncle Sigh.  I think he’s a very inexperienced horse.  I said once that I feel like I took him out of the frying pan and threw him into the fire after a New York-bred maiden win.  You know, it’s not the norm to see a horse win a New York-bred maiden race then go to the Withers, then go to the Gotham, and be talking about being one of the favorites in the Wood.  As far as learning experience, I kind of went from kindergarten to fifth grade to high school to college.  I didn’t give him a few years in each place.  So I just feel like my horse is just getting better and better, so I look forward to seeing what his best is.


Tim Wilkin:                           What is your impression of Samraat?


Gary Contessa:                   I think he’s a really good horse.  Man, he’s got the heart of a racehorse.  He’s determined.  You know what he’s shown?  He has shown that he can do it from on the pace or off the pace.  I think he’s a really good horse, and I look forward to have no excuses in a race against him and see who wins.  I really do.  But what a great horse.  I just admire him so much.  You don’t see too many horses like him that just keep winning.



Tom Jicha:                           Gary, I’d like to get back to something you said a few minutes ago about the other horses being in Florida and you having Uncle Sigh there.  Samraat came back and forth after all his races.  How much of an advantage do you think that was?  And you had horses down here.  Why did you never consider doing the same with Uncle Sigh?


Gary Contessa:                   Well, I never thought that we were going to keep getting bombarded by the weather.  Usually what happens in New York is you get one bad storm in January; you lose a day or two of training.  You get one bad storm in February.  So when I was thinking about taking him to Florida, I really had never had any other plans but to take the New York route, which was going to be Withers, Gotham, Wood.  So I wanted him in my main stable, which is in New York, and I wanted him to be training in New York.  If I had a time machine and I had it to do over again, I would’ve shipped him to Florida on December 1st, but only because of the weather.


When you’re in Florida, you have to fly back here. You have to make sure you have a flight, everything has to go well.  Those guys did a very smart thing.  I had never seen anybody do that before before this year.  I think Rick Violette should be applauded for what he did with this horse, because with all the horses that ran in Triple Crown races in all the years that I can remember, this is the first time I saw a guy do what Rick Violette did.  I didn’t want to go down to Florida for the Florida Derby.  Really, Withers, Gotham, Wood is what worked for me.  I didn’t think I was going to miss this much training.  I didn’t think I was going to have such a miserable winter.  Thirty five years I’ve been in New York in the winter.  I have never seen this many storms, this much missed training, and this bad weather.  It’s been terrible.  So it was a judgment call that didn’t quite work out, but in his defense, Uncle Sigh handled it incredibly well.


Tom Pedulla:                        Sort of on the distance issue, any sense of how that might play out between, say, Uncle Sigh, Samraat, Social Inclusion?


Gary Contessa:                   Well, Social Inclusion is the wild card.  He ran so well the other day, he was drawing off—I mean he looked so good going long the other day, but he had a first half that was moderate if you look at the races that day.  Any time you’re a race horse and you get a first half that’s moderate, it becomes a 5 furlong race.  So he obviously can handle the distance.  I saw him on the track this morning and he looked great.  He’s a really big, good looking horse; big rangy horse.  I don’t think he has any distance limitations.  My opinion of Uncle Sigh is that he too doesn’t have any distance limitations, and I think he proved that by being able to go from a three quarter race to a distance race to the Gotham, and he’s never, you know, with the exception of the Withers, and I’m not sure he was backing up or he just ran out of steam being on the lead, I mean he’s never really shown quit towards the end of a race.  So he gives me the impression that a mile and an eighth, a mile and a quarter would be no problem.  And, Samraat, that boy does nothing wrong.  I mean he acts like whether you’re running 6 furlongs or a mile and a half he’s going to show up.  I don’t see any distance limitations for my horse, but, of course, horses have been known to prove trainers wrong on that front, too.  You really learn by doing in this business.


Jim Mulvihill:                        Gary, you’ve already got 24 points, and in the limited history that we have to go by that should be enough to get in the Derby, but you put a strong work into your horse this morning and you clearly want to win this race.  Is there—was there any temptation to maybe back off knowing that the bigger goal is still five weeks away?


Gary Contessa:                   I don’t think 24 points is a gimme anymore.  We have—24 points puts him and Cairo Prince in a tie in 17th place on the points list.  We still run the Wood Memorial this weekend.  The first two finishers are going to be ahead of you.  The Santa Anita Derby, the first two finishers are going to be ahead of you.  The Blue Grass is coming up; the first two finishers are going to be ahead of you.  Arkansas Derby, the same thing.  So in this day and age, I don’t think 24 points is enough.  Last year I could’ve got in with 10 points, and I think I—ultimately at the very end, a horse got in with four points.  But I don’t see—I don’t necessarily see that happening right now.  It looks like everybody is getting the points and standing pat, so that you’re not going to see horses running again and getting injured and dropping out.  You’re going to see some normal day-to-day injuries and horses dropping out, but right now it seems like everybody’s standing pat, and I’m not positive 24 points is going to get it.  But I’m not necessarily running in the Wood just for the points.  This horse is training really well, and he deserves a shot in the Wood, and the Derby determination will be made after the Wood.  I mean this is a million dollar race, and this is a very, very good Grade 1 for us.


Jim Mulvihill:                        Excellent.  Well, it sounds like you’re in a great spot, Gary, and we wish you luck on Saturday, and appreciate you being with us today.


Gary Contessa:                   Thank you very much.  Thanks for having me.


Jim Mulvihill:                        Gary Contessa, he’s got Uncle Sigh in the Wood on Saturday.


Now we’re going to move onto our second guest, and that is Steve Coburn, the co-owner of California Chrome, who is the likely favorite for Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby.  Coburn will turn 61 on Kentucky Derby day of all days; that’s May 3rd.  He’s a resident of Topaz Lake, Nevada near Reno, and he works for a company that makes the magnetic strips on the back of credit cards and ID cards.  Coburn co-owns California Chrome with Perry Martin.  Those two were long-time partners in the Blinkers On Syndicate before purchasing Love the Chase as a Broodmare prospect, and she was the one who produced California Chrome, a son of Lucky Pulpit.  California Chrome is five for nine lifetime, with four stakes wins; three against fellow Cal-breds and then the jaw-dropping seven and a quarter length win in the Grade 2 San Filipe last month.


Steve, thanks for being with us.  You’re on with Jim Mulvihill in New York.


Steve Coburn:                      Well, thank you for having me.  I appreciate it.


Jim Mulvihill:                        Oh, it’s our pleasure.  I’m sure you had high hopes going into the San Filipe, but you couldn’t have expected a performance like that.  Take us through that race and tell us what you were thinking watching all of that unfold.


Steve Coburn:                      Well, watching it unfold, it’s kind of scary when he broke like a shot with three lengths on everybody within a sixteenth pole and then he went to the front and stayed there.  He normally comes from just off of the pace, so this was kind of a shocker to everybody.  Then on the back stretch my wife kept saying he’s going to fast, he’s going too fast.  I told her to look at his ears.  He was a very happy horse out for a Sunday stroll on a Saturday afternoon.  When he broke to come for home, I knew he was going to win by a few, but I didn’t think he was going to win by seven and a quarter.  When this colt breaks and runs, he’s just like he’s pushbutton.  He changes his lead so fast, unless you’re looking for it, you’ll never see it.  Then he’s got a beautiful long stride on him.  He’s very well balanced.  It was a shocker, but I knew he had it in him; he just needed to show it.  Since we’ve changed jockeys to Victor Espinoza, those two have connected quite well Victor talks to him when he rides him and the horse listens.  It was a race that we had to get some points because we’ve been pointing this horse to Kentucky since the day he hit the ground.  So we’re kind of excited about the Santa Anita Derby also.


Jim Mulvihill:                        You mentioned that break in the San Filipe, and now I’m remembering.  I mean he got out of there as fast as any horse I’ve seen.  Is that—was that something that Victor was trying to do or the horse just happened to surge when the gate sprung?


Steve Coburn:                      Well, this colt, believe it or not, he’s very smart; he’s very intelligent horse.  He knows that when they moved him from his regular stall, which is now at Los Alamitos, to a different track, he knows it’s game time.  He gets his job and he loves his job, and he shot out of there quicker than I’ve ever seen him shoot out before.  So he was ready to go and he was ready to roll, and I believe this Saturday he’s going to be ready to roll again.  He worked this past Saturday 4 furlongs in 26.2—excuse me, 46.2, so he’s ready to roll.  He lets you know when he’s ready to go, because he’s very  up to it, let me put it that way, and he’s just—he just looks forward to the game, and that’s what I love about him, and my partner and I both—this horse loves the game, and that’s ninety nine and nine tenths percent of it right there.  If you have a horse that loves the game and is willing to just give his all to run, and that’s the way this colt is.  So we’re pretty blessed to have him; you know, our first try at breeding, our first foal, and he’s going to Kentucky, so that’s incredible.


Jim Mulvihill:                        Now some folks are going to assume that he won’t carry his speed as the distances get longer.  What have you seen that tells you perhaps he will?


Steve Coburn:                      Well, I’ve seen as the distance gets longer his winning gets longer.  He’s won by five and a quarter, he’s won by six and a half, he’s won by seven and a quarter, so maybe at a mile and a quarter he may win by 12 or 15, who knows.  But he carries his speed very, very well.  If you look at this last race at San Filipe, he ran the second quarter faster than he did the first quarter, and he ran 6 furlongs in 1:06 and change.  I mean 1:09 and change, so, you know, he carries his speed.  If you’re looking to go back and look at the numbers on third quarter, this colt does carry his speed.  You know, when he comes up to the winner’s circle, he’s not breathing hard enough to blow out a candle.  So, he’s fit, he’s in condition for it, and his blood lines, he’s got a horse on his mother’s side called Sir Gaylord, and this horse didn’t even get wound up until a mile and a half.  He’s got Survivor and he’s got Numbered Account both top and bottom, and he has Swaps on his mother’s side way back when, and he’s got Not for Love who is a pretty good sire in Maryland, so he’s pretty well bred.  You know, he’s got Secretariat on his daddy’s side, and Seattle Slew, and the mare for A.P. Indy by Secretariat, Weekend Surprise.  I don’t think the distance is going to be the problem.  I really don’t.  This horse was bred to run all day, so—and he’s proven the longer the race, the better he gets.


Jim Mulvihill:                        Yes, as you mentioned, in the San Filipe he went a half in 45.2, three quarters in 109.2, and then continues to open up winning by seven and a quarter.  Steve, I’m going to send it back to Tracy and we’re going to see if any of the media on this call have questions for you.


Danny Brewer:                    California Chrome has been mighty shiny thus far.  What kind of challenges does Art Sherman face in maintaining his luster?


Steve Coburn:                      Well, he lets the horse basically tell him when he’s ready to work.  I mean the horse has a body posture that when he’s ready to go, Art knows it, and the horse just basically tells Art when he’s ready to go.  Art doesn’t push him.  He lets him do it on his own like just like his last work.  Tthe colt did it all on his own.  They galloped him up to the pole and let him go and he did it all on his own and he just loves his job.  Art sees that in him, and he’s been taken care of very good, I’ll guarantee you that.


Danny Brewer:                    Has he almost been scary good?  I mean there were times in the San Filipe that it was so jaw-dropping like you guys already touched on.  Is he almost scary good right now?


Steve Coburn:                      Yes, it is scary, but I honestly don’t think you’ve seen the top of this horse yet, because every time I see this horse he’s getting better and better.  He’s’ putting on more muscle, he’s getting smarter, and he’s going to peak here in about the next, oh, couple of months I think he’ll really, really peak out to where he’ll be at the very, very top of his game and he’ll be able to carry it on from there.  But he’s just getting better and bigger and faster every time we see him, and he does everything on his own, he’s just a very special colt.


Danny Brewer:                    Talk about the Derby fever that he has injected you with thus far.


Steve Coburn:                      Well, actually we’ve been pointing this colt to the Derby since he hit the ground, because I told my wife when we saw this horse the day after he was born, we better hang on for this ride because it’s going to be a good one, and no matter what we have to do to keep him healthy and in the game we’re going to do it.  You know we’re just everyday people.  She just retired at the end of February, and I work every day I’m up at 4:30 in bed at 10 o’clock at night.  We knew he was going to be special from the day that I saw him.  As far as the Derby Trail goes, when he started winning the way he did, and then when he won the Cal Cup Derby beating the horses the way he did, and then came back to win the San Filipe, that’s when it really started sinking in, because the San Filipe being a 50 point race, you know, we knew that was probably going to be good enough to get in the Derby.  But if you look at the way the scoring’s going now, he’s moved from like being sixth down to like ninth or tenth and maybe even eleventh right now because of the races that’s already run.  So when we win the Santa Anita Derby, and you notice I said when we win the Santa Anita Derby, we’ll be on top of the charts with 150 points.  I don’t have a doubt in my mind that this colt can’t win this next race, because of just the way he’s been coming into the game.  I know he’s going to be in with a little tougher, but he’s a lot smarter, and he and the jockey, they’ve got a pretty good team going on right there, so when that horse leaves the gate it’ll be up to that jockey to get him to where he’s supposed to go and then just hang on, so.  But Derby fever won’t hit me until I get on that plane the Tuesday before Kentucky, and then I’ll start getting a little nervous.  But right now I’m all good.


Danny Brewer:                    Fantastic.  Now, you talked a little bit about you guys being regular people.  He’s stabled at Los Alamitos.  Kind of is this a great story for everybody that, hey, anybody can do it; anybody can have a Derby contender?


Steve Coburn:                      Yes, it is honestly, because see we started out, like I said, in a syndication.  Perry had 5% of the mare and I had 5% of the mare, and then, you know, we bought her outright and the first time we bred her she didn’t take, so we gave her a year off because of what they call racetrack letdown.  Then the second time we bred her she took, and California Chrome was the outcome of that.  But, we were in the claiming game and stuff like that, and there were the two of us, and I’ve met a lot of people—a lot of wonderful people that are in this horse racing game that there’s four or five people that get together and they’ll get a claimer; you get a trainer and have them claim a horse, and they’ll go up the ladder or down the ladder or sideways.  You know, it’s a wonderful opportunity for people to get started if they’re interested in it, and get four or five of your friends and just have somebody claim a horse and then go from there.  Then if you want to get into breeding you can go from there or you can buy one of these yearlings at an auction, because there’s a lot of good horses out there.


And, they’re always saying, California Chrome was a California-bred.  That’s true, but he doesn’t know that.  He has no clue where he was born.  All he knows is he loves to run, and that’s all it takes is a heart of a horse that loves to run.  He’s got a tremendous heart; we’ve seen it, because he never gives up.  He keeps trying and trying and trying, and he keeps winning and winning and winning by more and more and more.  So the game is fantastic if people are just willing to just, say let’s give it a shot.  That’s what we did.  We gave it a shot and that’s what we’ve come up with.  We’ve got two full sisters, one that’s a yearling and one that was born Super Bowl Sunday this year; two little fillies.  We’re going to stay in the game as long as we possibly can, so it’s something that once it gets in your blood it’s there to stay.


Debbie Arrington:               You’ve got an awful lot of people excited up here with your little horse.   Well, he’s actually a pretty big horse.  Now, you said when he came out that, you know, you guys knew when he hit the ground that he was pointed towards Churchill Downs.  What was it about him that you thought was so special?


Steve Coburn:                      Just him; just seeing him.  Because I had a dream about this colt two weeks before he was born, and I told my wife, I said it’s going to be a colt.  He’s going to be flashy with four whit stocking feet and big bald face, and his baby pictures looks just like that.  I told them he was going to be something special.  He was born on my sister (inaudible) birthday, February 18th, and she died of cancer when she was 36 years old.  And this year, it will be 36 years since there’s been a Triple Crown winner.  The Kentucky Derby happens to run on my birthday this year, May 3rd, so if this horse wins the Triple Crown, when he wins the Triple Crown, he will go down in history as the first California-bred to ever win a Triple Crown.  I’ve seen all these other horses, you know, like at the Louisiana Derby and the Florida Derby I’ve seen these horses, you know, at the wire by big trainers and stuff like that, but I’m not that impressed by the way they did it; they looked like they were struggling when they got there.  This horse just does it so easy in my eyes.  I’m not saying he will win the Triple Crown, but he has just a good of shot as anybody else out there.  The only thing that bothers me is you’ve got these trainers that’s not going to run in the Kentucky Derby but they’ll back up and come to the Preakness and race against a horse that’s only been off a few weeks, and to me, that’s cheating because if you’ve got a horse you think can win the Triple Crown, start from the first race and go all the way through, and if you drop out of the first one, why go to the other two except for the money.  I know there are a lot of owners that pressure their trainers because of the money.  I look at it this way, f you think you’ve got the horse to do it, put him in the first one and keep him in the second one and third one, and may the best horse come out on top, and that’s all I’ve got to say about that, so.


Debbie Arrington:               Well, hopefully we’ll get to that point.  But where was Chrome foaled at?


Steve Coburn:                      He was foaled at Harris Ranch Horse Division over near Coalinga, California.  That’s where his mama’s at, too, and that’s where both his yearling sister and his sibling sister were both foaled there.  She was bred there, and she lives there and they go from there to John Harris’ place over to River Ranch there at the King’s Canyon area and then when they bring them back, they bring them back to the Horse Division over by Coalinga, and Terence (ph) puts the foundation on them.  So, and that’s what he did to Junior with California Chrome, his nickname is Junior.


Debbie Arrington:               Where you and Caroline there for the foaling?


Steve Coburn:                      No, we were there the day after.  Yes, he…


Debbie Arrington:               Oh, the day after, okay, yes.


Steve Coburn:                      Yes, he weighed—I think Dave said he weighed 137 pounds when he was born.


Debbie Arrington:               Oh wow.


Steve Coburn:                      We had to give her a year off after he was foaled because he was so big and he tore the uterine wall on her (cross talking), and so we gave her a year off, and then she had his full sister who is a yearling now.  Then we bred her right back and she had the sibling this year on Super Bowl Sunday..


Debbie Arrington:               Yes, yes.  Do you have names for the two sisters?


Steve Coburn:                      No, aroline calls her Princess, and Perry and Denise called her Little Sis, so we’re thinking Little Sis the Princess might be a pretty good name.  Then the sibling, I call her—I like Sunday Surprise, because me and Dave McGlothlin, the Foreman over at the Horse Division, the Manager, we had a little bet on when she would be born.  I said I’ll bet you she’ll be born on Super Bowl Sunday, and he says I’ll take the under on that.  So he owes me a steak dinner.  But Perry’s wife, Denise, she calls her after the ZZ Top song, “She’s Got Legs”, because this filly has got some legs on her.  She might be a lot like California Chrome.  She’s pretty big.  I think she weighed like 125 or 128 when she was born.


Steve Coburn:                      She’s a pretty good sized filly, and she’s got the attitude like her brother had.  She’s got an attitude.  She really does.  You know what they say about females with an attitude; it’s something to watch out for.  But,  what we normally do is just put the names in a hat and draw one out, one, two, three, four and submit them that way, and whichever one comes up that hasn’t been used that’s the name of the horse, and that’s the way we did California Chrome.


Debbie Arrington:               Oh, great, well, because that is a great name.  Now, what was it about the mare that you guys liked?


Steve Coburn:                      Well, my wife and I when we got in the syndication, they had two horses left.  They had her and another horse, and they just had photographs, and I looked at her and I said I want this horse right here.   She said, why, and I said, because she’s got a smart eye.  Then when we went over to meet the filly, she looked kind of small and kind of thinly, but she was a nice filly and she was put together real well, but she was a little immature.  What I liked about her was how she was willing to learn and she was smart and she listened.  But she didn’t like other horses.  Every time they’d get her to the gate she’d be washed out, because she knew she was going to be racing and she’d be all washed out before she ever got in the gate, so the race was already run before she ever started to run.  But I liked her because of her breeding.  She’s got some really, really, really nice breeding.  She’s by Not For Love, who was the one of the leading sires in North America for like six or seven years in a row outside of the State of Kentucky, and he’s produced some great babies, both male and female.  So it was her breeding and just the way that she likes people.  She loves people.  Hates horses.  We thought she was going to eat her young.  But she loves people; she loves being around people.  Her babies are the same way.  They get used to people and I get them eating these Mrs. Pasture (inaudible) cookies or whatever they’re called; it’s like a granola bar for horses, and I’ve got them all eaten them now.  So we buy them by the boxful now instead of by the bagful.


Debbie Arrington:               Is Junior the same way?  Does he like people also?


Steve Coburn:                      Oh, he loves people.  Oh, yes, he really likes people.  Every time we’re around him we’ve got four or five people with us, he’ll let you pet him and I’ll play a game with him where I push him on the bottom of his chin and he pushes me back, and the winner gets a cookie, which he always gets a cookie. He’s just a neat colt.  He’s really neat to be around, and, yes, they’re all that way.  A mean horse is like a mean dog, you know, you don’t want to be around them very much, but they’re all good-natured horses.



Larry Stumes:                     Tell me how you happened to hook up with Art Sherman as a trainer?


Steve Coburn:                      Well, my partner up here, Perry, he had some horses with Art’s son, Steve Sherman, up in Northern California, and Steve recommended his dad.  Art’s kind of an old school trainer, and basically that’s how we got Art. He’s very good with that horse, and the horse likes him it’s just one of those things that it just happened.  They say things happen for a reason.  Well, I believe this is a reason why he’s got that colt, because Steve recommended his dad and then Perry talked to Art, and Art said, yes, I’ll be happy to see what I can do with him.  Well, you can see what Art’s been able to do with him.  That’s why Art’s got him.  He’s an old school guy.


Larry Stumes:                     So you didn’t think about sending him to Steve, you sent him right down to Southern California.  You must’ve thought a lot of him even before you—even before you started training?


Steve Coburn:                      No, I’ll tell you why we sent him to Southern California.  It’s because of the track at Golden Gate. That Tapeta, we don’t like it.  We’ve had horses run on it.  They say it’s better for the horse while they’re racing, but two days after the race when you’ve got to help the horse up because he’s stiff, you know, I just don’t like it.  And a lot of the horses that run on that but they send them down south, they actually excel down south, and then when you send them back up to that stuff they don’t do any good.  If you look at the races, very few horses that come to Golden Gate from Southern California, especially that have been racing on the dirt, they don’t do that well until they’ve been on that stuff, you know, three or four races.  Then they get used to the footing and then they may go forward or they may just go dead in the water.  But I don’t like the surface up there, and that’s why we wanted to get him down to Southern California and that’s why he’s there.


He loved the cushion track at Hollywood Park, but that’s a blend of dirt and synthetic.  When they lifted the mandate, Hollywood Park started putting dirt back in instead of putting synthetic back in, and that’s why t was a great training track.


Art Wilson:                           Yes, Steve, a lot of people probably didn’t start taking your California Chrome seriously as a Kentucky Derby candidate until he beat the open company there in the San Filipe.  Do you think heading into the San Felipe he was underappreciated?


Steve Coburn:                      Well, I can probably say yes, because he’d only been running against the Cal-breds.  But seeing how he had run against Cal-breds, you know, people really started taking notice.  He’s got a huge fan base.  I get calls from people from all over the world wanting to know how he’s doing.  If you go on the Internet, he’s everywhere.  But I honestly believe now that he won the San Felipe and did it the way he did beating Midnight Hawk, who won the Sham, in open company, I think people are starting to take notice that this colt’s the real deal.  It’s not just a stroke of luck here, this colt’s the real deal, especially if you go back and see where he started and everything that’s happened to him on all of his races up until the time that he won the San Felipe.  When he ran in the Del Mar Futurity and got hit across the nose he still finished sixth by two lengths.  And then when he won in the Gold Cup Series on Breeders’ Cup weekend, he jumped the gate, and he tried to jump the moon that day and he still made a race of it, and he still only got beat by two, two and a half lengths.  He’s a horse that people can’t actually see how he’s been progressing and see the things that have happened to him and see how he’s come out of the race and gone forward with that.  A lot of horses you hit them across the nose with that whip and they’ll stop and they get really flighty about going between horses or anything like that, and this colt it was a lesson for him.  So you just draw a line through those bad races and keep going forward.  But I think people did wake up and smell the roses, no pun intended, when he won the San Felipe Stakes the way he did.


Art Wilson:                           Before the San Felipe when maybe some people weren’t taking him seriously, did that bother you at all?


Steve Coburn:                      No, not at all, because I kept saying if they don’t take him serious, we’re just going to win more money when his odds were through the roof.  It didn’t bother me a bit because I knew what kind of horse we had.  We’ve got a great horse.  He’s got to have the great mother that’s got great blood lines and a daddy that’s got good blood lines, and we just got fortunate of where they all kind of come together in one horse, and Chrome’s it.  So, but no, it doesn’t bother me a bit.  You know, they just kept saying that he’s just a Cal-bred, he’s just a Cal-bred, and like I said, he doesn’t know that.  He doesn’t know he’s a Cal-bred.  He just likes to run.  If I bred my mare to a a stud in California and took her back to Kentucky and she gave birth to that baby in Kentucky, that baby would be a Kentucky-bred even though his mother and daddy are both living in California.  So it makes no difference, because there are a lot of horses that are standing in California that used to stand in Kentucky, to me it doesn’t make any difference.  It’s the horse and the heart of the horse that makes the horse.  It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference where they’re born.


Art Wilson:                           Right.


Steve Coburn:                      That’s my opinion.


Art Wilson:                           What do you think—why do you think is the reason this horse has become so popular, Steve?


Steve Coburn:                      Well, everybody talks down to him likebecause he’s a California-bred.  Well, he’s popular because he’s like the underdog is showing what he’s really made of.  California-breds have always been the underdog when it comes to the thoroughbred industry especially with Kentucky and Florida and New York, and so on and so forth, but the California-breds have always been considered the underdog.  Well, this underdog is kind of a good underdog.  He’s kind of showing I can do it just as good as you guys can even though I’m from California, which, like I said, he hasn’t got a clue he was born in California.


To me it doesn’t make any difference, and I think people are really getting on the bandwagon because they know he’s always been the underdog, and he’s always been a horse that been improving and improving and improving. We’ve got a huge fan base on this colt, and people that were there for the Cal Cup Derby, they came back for the San Felipe Stakes and I don’t even know their names but they come up to you and they give you a big hug, and so on and so forth.   There is a man that was there with his wife.  He actually had a tattoo of a jackass he had put on his shoulder, which the jackass is our emblem for DAP Racing, which stands for Dumbass Partners; our emblem is a jackass on the back of our purple silk, and he had a jackass tattooed on his shoulder.  You know, so to me that’s a hell of a fan right there.


Art Wilson:                           That is, yes.  Yes, and finally, Steve, have you been to the Derby as a spectator?


Steve Coburn:                      Never been there before in my life.  It’s always been on my bucket list, and I guess it’s going to be fulfilled this year.


Art Wilson:                           So you’ve never been to Churchill Downs period then?


Steve Coburn:                      Never have.


Art Wilson:                           Have you even dreamed or thought about how you`re going to feel if he makes it there, and how you would feel coming down the stretch if he gets to the wire first how you would feel?


Steve Coburn:                      I can still feel my heart beating in my chest to be honest with you.  I get pretty excited when I watch him run.  After he ran the San Felipe Stakes, I was in the shower a couple days later and I couldn’t figure out where this bruise came from on my leg.  Well, I figured it out.  I had my program and I kept hitting my leg with my program and I had a bruise about the size of a baseball on my leg.  So, yes, I get pretty excited, and go hoarse because I yell a lot at him, you know, which I know he can’t hear me.  But, yes I hope I see it and I don’t just pass out before he hits the wire.


Jim Mulvihill:                        All right, Steve, we appreciate all the information today and we wish you luck on Saturday.  Thanks for joining us.


Steve Coburn:                      Well, thank you very much for having me and you guys have a great day.


Jim Mulvihill:                        That was Steve Coburn.  He’s the co-owner of California Chrome, and he’s feeling very confident not only about Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby, but well beyond that as well.


Now we’re going to get to our final guest and that is Ron Sanchez.  He’s the owner of Social Inclusion.  Ron is a native of Venezuela and works as a financial advisor with clients including current NBA players.  His Rontos Racing Stable was among the top 100 owners in North America last year by both wins and earnings.  Rontos owns Social Inclusion, who went gate to wire while posting a mild upset over Honor Code in the Gulfstream Allowance last month, pulling away to win by 10 lengths and setting a new track record in the process.  That victory set off a bidding war for the colt, but Sanchez ultimately turned down every offer for the time being at least.  A son of Pioneer of the Nile, Social Inclusion is a perfect two for two, but Saturday marks his stakes debut and he’ll likely need a second place finish or better to move on to the Kentucky Derby.


Ron Sanchez, you’re on with Jim Mulvihill in New York.  How are you doing?


Ron Sanchez:                      Very well.


Jim Mulvihill:                        Thanks for joining us.


Ron Sanchez:                      Thank you, thank you.  It’s kind of cold here, but it’s good.


Jim Mulvihill:                        All right.  Well, let’s talk about Social Inclusion.  This colt is clearly very fast, and he posted a half mile work in 46.4 before leaving Florida.  How do you feel he’s doing coming into this stakes debut on Saturday?


Ron Sanchez:                      Well, the horse is doing very good.  He came here and just at 3 a.m. he’s working very well.  He went out today just an easy gallop; he’s doing very well.  We have a lot of expectation with him.  We have confidence.  We came here just to, you know, to get the points, and we’re pretty confident that we will get them.


Jim Mulvihill:                        All right, and you bought this horse at Keeneland as a yearling for only $60,000.  Tell me what you all saw in him at that point?


Ron Sanchez:                      Well, he has a nice stride, nice walk, and he’s nice and calm.  It was love at first sight.  When I bought him, I told Manny, well, I think we have the Derby horse.  The Derby- I dream my whole life. And the horse—I sent the horse to California because I saw that the Pioneerof the Nile are going to work very well during California because the track is fast.  So we gave him time, because he’s a late foal, time to mature, and then when the Gulfstream Championship started, we decided to bring him back to Florida and start training again, and, we’ll see how it will  work out.


Jim Mulvihill:                        Now, a lot of the talk around this colt has been about the offers that you’ve had since the last race.  Some of those were reported as much as $6 million, and that’s only for three quarters of the horse.  Tell us why not sell?


Ron Sanchez:                      Well, we have some conditions.  I said that I wanted to keep a piece of the horse; breed him right.  I want to keep the horse with Manny, and well, we’re just working on that one.  We couldn’t get the deal done before this race, and I think, well, I’m a risk taker, so I’m going to go deep in this race, and it will make it I think somebody or maybe a couple people will come to us and say, well, we have the money, we have the contract, here you are.  I’m going to sell—but if we win, we’re going to reveal everything; price included.


Jim Mulvihill:                        Fair enough.  I’m sure there’ll be plenty of calls if he wins on Saturday.  Ron, hold on for a second.  I’m going to send it back to Tracy and we’re going to see if there are questions for you from the media.


Tim Wilkin:                           Yes, Mr. Sanchez.  How many offers did you have?


Ron Sanchez:                      I have four offers.  The biggest one come from outside of the United States.  It was for $8 million and for the 75% of the horse.  I have a couple for less money here in the States.


Tim Wilkin:                           That’s a lot of money to turn down.


Ron Sanchez:                      Well, as you know, not everything means money in life.  If you had a dream and you worked hard for that dream, I’ve been in this business for 25 years, and money doesn’t mean anything in life.  So we have a dream and I think we’re going to try and that the dream comes true.


Tim Wilkin:                           Now if he keeps winning, would it be harder to sell him?


Ron Sanchez:                      No, if he wins, he’s going to be easy, you know?  We’re going to keep at least half, because I want to handle this horse.  If we win we are in the Derby.  That’s the dream of everyone and we’re going to be in a position that if this horse wins, we’re going to be one of the favorites.  So I think I’m going to take a risk.  I’m a risk taker, I have nothing to lose.


Tim Wilkin:                           How important would it be for you to experience the Kentucky Derby?


Ron Sanchez:                      Wow, tremendous; big, big, big.  That is the dream of my life.  To be there is a goal for me.  And I’ll be happy if we come first or we come last.  It doesn’t matter.  Once we get in the Derby, we’re going to try to win if we get to the Derby, but first we’re going to focus on the Wood Memorial and get the points, because if no points, no Derby.  That’s it.


Tim Wilkin:                           Have you ever been to Churchill Downs?


Ron Sanchez:                      Yes, a couple times. Churchill Downs is quite difficult racetrack to handicap but actually the horse can handle any track because he is special.



Andrew Beyer:                    Ronald, there’s a lot of history that suggests that a horse as inexperienced as Social Inclusion can’t win the Kentucky Derby.  I mean does that concern you, do you have any doubts about the wisdom of pushing the horse to get to the Derby?


Ron Sanchez:                      Well, I don’t think this horse is inexperienced.  He handles everything well—that is what usually happens when you have a special horse, he does everything easy; he doesn’t give you a hard time.  He has been travelling a lot.  Since he was in California we brought him to Gulfstream Park then we sent him to here in Aqueduct. He handles it nice and easy.  He is a horse that knows what to do, and I’m not concerned about his experience.  Once he gets on the track, he knows what to do.


Art Wilson:                           Yes, Ronald, so your horse has obviously won both races super impressively.  Both came over the—obviously the speed-favoring Gulfstream Park.  Do you have any doubt in your mind that he’ll handle the Aqueduct track as well as he’s handled Gulfstream?


Ron Sanchez:                      Well, let me tell you, this morning he went out he galloped on the track like he was here for a long time.  This is a horse that knows what to do.  That’s why I think he’s special.  I don’t have any doubt he’s not going to handle the track.  Aqueduct is a track, and we are not concerned about the speed of the race.  (Audio interference) we’re going to the lead, but we can stalk the pace because this horse knows what to do.


Art Wilson:                           Okay, so you think if anybody comes out and sets insane fractions you—are you saying that you don’t think your horse has to have the lead; that he could sit second or third?


Ron Sanchez:                      No, no, he set the fraction last two races, I mean to go to the lead; they didn’t really go too fast.  They went :23 and change, :48, 72, and Social Inclusion went 23, 47, 70, 94, so I don’t think it’s going to be a problem even taking the lead or even stalking.


Jay Privman:                        Yes, Mr. Sanchez, I was wondering if you could go into a little bit of detail as to the horse first being in California and he had gotten fairly far along in his training here and why you decided after the time off to have him in Florida with another trainer as opposed to in California, please?


Ron Sanchez:                      I sent the horse to California to (inaudible).  I have a couple horses there.  So the horse started working, he had  five full works there, and we were running (inaudible) one of my fillies (inaudible), and he was supposed to make the first start over the Santa Anita track.  So, at that time, the championship meeting wasn’t started, and Manny and I – I have half my horses at Gulfstream Park, so we decided to bring Social Inclusion and change all his training methods, because Manny has a different method of training.  He only works three, four lengths, and it works for the horse giving him time.  He doesn’t have any issues.  He’s completely sound.  We give him time and it’s paying off.


Jay Privman:                        Do you have any more horses in California?


Ron Sanchez:          Yes, I have two two year’s old babies that are going to start at the half of the year, and I’m going to run one of my fillies whose name is Carakeesta (ph) is going to run in (inaudible) race.  I have another horse that I have in a partnership that is in California and his name is Anillo.  He won the Jim Kostoff Stakes with Jeff Bonde.  He is a good guy and a good trainer; I respect him, they are all my friends, and I respect all the trainers and all the people on the back side.  We are a team.


Tom Jicha:                           Mr. Sanchez, how much part of the negotiations has been keeping Manny Azpurua as the trainer, and how long have you been connected with Manny?


Ron Sanchez:                      I’ve been connected with Manny the last three years.  When I first came here, I had a different trainer.  My first trainer here was Jose Garoffalo.  He’s the trainer of Wildcat Red.  So we changed trainers.  We are still friends. Manny is 85 years old; an old school trainer.  I have a lot of respect with him; loyalty. He’s a good guy.  He’s a legend in Venezuela.  He won more than 3,500 races, and here he has won almost 1,000 races.  There is no reason to take Social Inclusion away no matter how much money they’re going to pay, you know?  If the horse works well in the training method, you’ve got to keep it.  That’s one of my conditions.  I said, well, I’m going to sell the horse, but guys, there’s no reason to take the horse away from Manny.


Tom Jicha:                           So is that a deal breaker?  Is that a potential deal breaker?


Ron Sanchez:                      Yes, well, could it be?  You never know. If we win, it’s almost impossible the horse will be moved no matter how much money they’re going to pay, because this horse—to move this horse and just change the training method, probably then the  horse would  bounce.


Jim Mulvihill:                        All right, Ron, I’ve just got a couple more for you.  I wanted to ask about Pioneerof the Nile.  This is a great second crop for this horse not only Social Inclusion but also Cairo Prince and Vinceremos.  What do you make of all these Derby contenders by Pioneers of the Nile?


Ron Sanchez:                      Well, you know, I’m a big fan of Pioneerof the Nile.  He really has been special with the second crop, and I have to say that it’s going to keep going.  I  got one in the OBS two year old in training sale is another Pioneerof the Nile that I bought, and we’re going to put him training very soon, and hopefully we’ll have success, because that is a new sire that I trust a lot.  I want to send congratulations to Mr. Zayat for doing really well with all his stallions, and especially with Pioneerof the Nile.


Jim Mulvihill:                        All right, and then the last thing I wanted to ask you is whether you could just give us some more background on Rontos Racing?  Do you have partners or is this strictly your operation, and how long have you been around?  Just give us the low down on Rontos.


Ron Sanchez:                      I’m the only owner of Rontos Racing Stables.  There is a lot of rumors and street talk, but, really, we came here four years ago, and you can check the records, everything there in the States is public.  I started my company in Venezuela 25 years ago, and my first horse ran in 1991.  So I came here four years ago and I started the company, and (inaudible) was my first trainer, sorry, and I’m the only owner.  You know, I have a lot of fans.  That’s it.  Rontos Racing Stables, we have been successful the last couple years.  The first year we were so-so, and last year we were 60th place of all the owners; so we’re keep working.


Jim Mulvihill:                        Excellent.  Well, you’ve got a very special horse in Social Inclusion, and we wish you luck on Saturday in the Wood Memorial.


Ron Sanchez:                      Thank you very much.  We came here to get the points.  We are not playing games.  We know how to handle this horse, and I’m pretty confident we’re going to get it…hopefully.


Jim Mulvihill:                        Excellent.  Well, we’ll all be watching with interest, Ron.  Good luck to you.


Ron Sanchez:                      Thank you.  Bye.


Jim Mulvihill:                        All right.  That’s Ron Sanchez.  He’s not playing games with Social Inclusion.  Thanks once again to Gary Contessa and Steve Coburn also for joining us today.