National Media Teleconference Transcript and Audio (McLaughlin, O’Neill, Casse)

March 29, 2016 – NTRA National Media Teleconference

  • Kiaran McLaughlin, Trainer (Mohaymen, Florida Derby)
  • Doug O’Neill, Trainer (Nyquist, Florida Derby; Ralis, Spiral Stakes)
  • Mark Casse, Trainer (Airoforce, Spiral Stakes)

Click below to listen to the Teleconference.

C O R P O R A T E   P A R T I C I P A N T S

Jim Mulvihill

Kiaran McLaughlin

Doug O’Neill

Mark Casse

C O N F E R E N C E   C A L L   P A R T I C I P A N T S

Danny Brewer, HorseRacingScoop.com

Ron Flatter, RSN Australia

Art Wilson, Los Angeles Newspaper Group

Tim Reynolds, Associated Press

Debbie Arrington, Sacramento Bee

Tim Wilkin, Albany Times Union

Melissa Hoppert, New York Times

Jennie Rees, Horse Racing Radio Network

Dick Downey, The Downey Profile

Tom Jicha, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Danny Brewer, Horseracingscoop.com

John Pricci, Horseraceinsider.com

P R E S E N T A T I O N

 

Operator:

 

Good day, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the NTRA Road to the Triple Crown 2016 Conference Call.  At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode.  Following the presentation, we will conduct a question-and-answer session.  At that time participants are asked to press star, one to register for a question.  As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

 

It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Mr. Jim Mulvihill.  Please go ahead, Mr. Mulvihill.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Thank you Michelle and welcome everyone to today’s big call.  We’re previewing this weekend’s Road to Derby Championship Series Stakes, those are the $1 million Expressbet.com Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park and the $500,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes at Turfway.  Both of those are this Saturday afternoon.  Now, the Florida Derby is work 170 points toward Kentucky Derby eligibility; 100 of those go to the winner.  While the Spiral is worth 50 points with 20 to the winner.  Last year you might recall it took 22 points to make the Kentucky Derby field.

 

This Florida Derby is shaping up as one for the ages.  We’ve got the two Triple Crown contenders that are on the top of nearly everyone’s list.  Both of them are unbeaten and they’re facing off for the first time.  The East Coast leader is Mohaymen, the easy winner of both of Gulfstream’s earlier derby preps, the Holy Bull and the Fountain of Youth.  Then shipping in from the West Coast, lured by a million-dollar bonus that’s available to the Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale grads is the Breeders Cup Juvenile winner, as well as the 2-year old Champion I should mention, and that of course is Nyquist.  We’re delighted to have both the trainers of Mohaymen and Nyquist on this call today, Kiaran McLaughlin and Doug O’Neill, and later on we’re also going to talk to Mark Casse who might have two horses for Saturday’s Spiral Stakes and a few others that we can talk about as well as far as Derby contenders, so we’ll get to him later on.

 

But first, let’s welcome in Kiaran McLaughlin.  He trains Shadwell Stables Mohaymen, winner of all five of his starts, the last four of which came in Grade 2 Stakes company.  Last year Kiaran was kind enough to join us on several of these calls to talk about Frosted, another grade one of Tapit who was one of the top 3-year-olds of that crop, but of course was overshadowed by American Pharaoh.  Last weekend Frosted ran fifth in in the Dubai World Cup, but now Kiaran’s back in Florida and looking forward to this Saturday’s big test for Mohaymen.

 

Kiaran, it’s Jim Mulvihill in Lexington.  Thanks for joining us.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Thanks for having me, Jim.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

It’s our pleasure as always.  Maybe the best place to start is just with Mohaymen’s current condition.  I’m hoping maybe you can describe to us how he’s progressed this year, say going back to when he first got to Florida, and then also just where he’s at right now.  How do you like his current condition?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Well, he’s always done everything right and after winning the Remsen I had a tough decision to fly him the next day or wait and van him a week or so later.  We ran him back at 24 days to the Remsen and flew him on the next day and it took a little bit out of him to do all that running twice in 24 days and then flying to Florida, so I feel like he’s improved and put on weight and conditioning a lot since then, and we’ve stayed right on course with the Holy Bull, Fountain of Youth and now the Florida Derby, and he’s worked every week when he’s supposed to work and everything is going great.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Very good.  Happy to hear it.  I’m sure a few months ago you probably wouldn’t have expected that the top contender from California would be shipping in, so I’m wondering if you could just tell us what your reaction was when you first heard about Nyquist coming to Florida for this race and whether it impacts at all what you thought would be the progression for Mohaymen?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

No, it didn’t really affect a lot.  We were, like I said, staying on course with our plan.  I like the five weeks out from the Kentucky Derby and we were here training and we’re going to have to face 19 others or 18 others plus him on May 7th, hopefully, so it’s not a big deal.  Nothing really changed.  You would rather face him later in the Derby than now but this is a very important race, grade 1, Florida Derby and we’re not a grade 1 winner so it’s a very important race and we’re ready to go.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Is there also a train of thought that suggests that maybe a hard race before the Derby wouldn’t be a bad thing, which isn’t to say it would be an easy race without Nyquist; it’s still a grade 1, but it increases the chances that you’re going to get a real test in here as opposed to potentially cruising into the Derby without a real stern test.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Yes, exactly.  We don’t mind a stern test.  Again, we’re five weeks out.  This is a really tough race which it probably will be tough on both of us but we have five weeks to recover which is great.  It’s not like it’s three weeks, and it’d be nice to have a little challenge also, or more of a challenge than we’ve had, and see where we’re at.  We’re looking forward to Saturday.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Excellent.  Well Kiaran, I’m going to check back with Michelle and she can see if the media have any questions for you.  Hang on one second.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  Ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to ask a question, please signal by pressing the star key followed by the digit one on your telephone keypad If you are using a speakerphone, please make sure your mute function is turned off to allow your signal to reach our equipment.  If you have signaled for a question prior to hearing these instructions on today’s call, please repeat the process now by pressing star, one again to ensure our equipment captured your signal.   We’ll pause for just a moment to allow everyone the opportunity to signal for questions.

 

Our first question comes from the line of Danny Brewer of HorseRacingScoop.com.  Please go ahead.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

How’s it going today?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Great, Danny.  Great.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

Why did you choose Gulfstream? I guess did you just answer that with the five weeks to the Derby.  Is that why you guys are coming to Gulfstream instead of going on the New York circuit like did with Frosted last year?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

No.  We’re down here.  We train in Florida all winter and provided that he liked the track and handled things well we always were going to go Holy Bull, Fountain of Youth to the Florida Derby.  So we’re still on for it.  We changed last year with Frosted because we didn’t think he loved the track.  We weren’t sure about it.  He didn’t run great in the Fountain of Youth so we had to make an adjustment.  But provided that Mohaymen was still winning we weren’t going to adjust.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

He’s been a little versatile in some of his wins.  Is he kind of push-button? Do you think he can turn it on when he wants to?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Yes, I do.  That’s exactly the term I use.  He’s push-button is right.  So it’ll be a tough test, his toughest test Saturday, but I feel like he is push-button, yes.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

Kiaran, I appreciate your time and I wish you the best of luck.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  The next question comes from the line of Ron Flatter of RSN Australia.  Please go ahead.

 

Ron Flatter:

 

Hi Kiaran.  Looking at Mohaymen and Nyquist, do you find a lot of similarities in the running styles, and if so do you look at being eyeball-to-eyeball with him throughout the race?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

No, I don’t.  I think he has more speed than we do and we will probably be coming from off of it a little bit, and we don’t want to make it easy for him if he’s out there on an uncontested lead.  We might have to come to him a little bit earlier but I’ll leave that up to Junior and we definitely get the mile and an eighth.  That’s the question for him I guess, you’ve been to (inaudible) and won impressively in Keeneland very impressively.  I didn’t think he could win from where he was at the first turn.  But we have won at a mile and an eighth and we’ve won twice at this track.  So we would probably be coming from off the pace.

 

Ron Flatter:

 

You mentioned Junior.  The fact that he hasn’t ridden in a Kentucky Derby, do you look at keeping him on the horse as long as he keeps winning? Or would you be looking to a more experienced jockey if you are carrying this mantle all the way up to May?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

No.  He will stay on provided we keep winning and he stays healthy, both rider and horse; he will stay with him.  Maybe it’s a plus not to have ridden in the Kentucky Derby.  He doesn’t know about the My Old Kentucky Home and all the nervousness that goes with it.  He’s won plenty of big races so it might be a plus.

 

Ron Flatter:

 

Finally, you were in Dubai.  You saw Lani win.  Of course Cupid won the Rebel.  The common factor here is Tapit.  Are we coming to a point now where you look almost at seeing Tapit first and everybody else after that? I mean just how good a sire has he become?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Yeah, unbelievable sire.  We’ve been lucky to have several, maybe five or six grade one and grade two winners by Tapit, so he’s a fabulous sire and this horse is just a very nice horse out of a mare that I trained, Justwhistledixie, so it’s really neat to have an outstanding Tapit in the barn, for sure.

 

Ron Flatter:

 

Thank you, Kiaran.  Good luck to you.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Thanks very much.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  The next question comes from Art Wilson of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.  Please go ahead.

 

Art Wilson:

 

Kiaran, I’m sure you’ve seen a few of Nyquist’s races.  What is it that impresses you the most about Nyquist?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

He’s just very game and determined and he’s hard to get by.  Like I said at the Breeders Cup, I didn’t think he could win the race from where he was into the first turn, and yet he still won and beat out a nice group of horses.  He’s in good hands with Doug O’Neill.  He’s won the Derby before and he’s undefeated so you don’t have to say much more than that.  He’s 6 for 6 and he knows where the finish line is.

 

Art Wilson:

 

Regarding, your colt, other than obviously the fact that he can run real fast, what is it that impresses you most about Mohaymen?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

He has a great mind.  He’s a real gentleman to be around.  Nothing seems to bother him, and he’s a beautiful mover.  He seems to do things effortlessly, so he’s the best 3-year-old to date that I’ve ever had and he just is a special horse.

 

Art Wilson:

 

Okay.  Thanks for that.  Good luck on Saturday.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Thanks, Art.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  The next question comes from Tim Reynolds of Associated Press, Please go ahead.

 

Tim Reynolds:

 

(inaudible) Kiaran.  I’m just curious.  I know you were in Dubai just a few days ago and then coming back.  I’m just curious how much that takes out of you with all the involvement that goes on this week and all the hub-bub surrounding what’s going to come on Saturday with a few air miles underneath your belt the last few days? How do you kind of keep on some sort of normal schedule for yourself?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

It’s tough on the body.  I’m 60 now, a flight on Sunday.  But when I got to the barn Monday morning and saw Mohaymen it makes it a lot easier.  It’s not a big deal.  I love what I do.  I enjoy getting up every day and luckily it’s me that’s at low tide and not Mohaymen.

 

Tim Reynolds:

 

Well, I meant in your first years you didn’t have as many, and now it’s kind of—like, the last three years,

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Thank you, Kiaran.  I appreciate it.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

The you.  The next question comes from Debbie Arrington of Sacramento Bee.  Please go ahead.

 

Debbie Arrington:

 

Hi.  Thank you Kiaran for coming on this morning.  You had Mohaymen’s mother also in your barn you said.  Do you see any similarities between mother and son?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Not that much.  It’s just they both have good minds.  Justwhistledixie was really nice filly and very nice.  Really, she did great.  In fact, also she won five in a row for us, so it’s kind of interesting that he’s five in a row now.  She lost her first race I believe but she won five in a row and was second in a grade 1, and just a really nice filly.  Mohaymen is a great mover and she was a good mover also, but not a lot of similarities, no.

 

Debbie Arrington:

 

How has Mohaymen matured this year?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

He seems likes he growing all the time.  He’s a May 2nd foal, so he seems like he’s growing and filling out a little bit from the first of the year and he probably will continue to do that ‘til, you know the middle of the summer.  But he does everything right and we’re not looking for any changes, and he’s doing great.

 

Debbie Arrington:

 

It sounds like he’s a really nice horse to have around the barn, that he’s very personable.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Yes, he is.  He’s a real gentleman.  He never makes any noise.  He doesn’t cause any problems.  He’s just a real gentleman and quiet.  You hardly know he’s in the barn.

 

Debbie Arrington:

 

Very good.  What does his name mean?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Dominance, I believe.  Dominance.

 

Debbie Arrington:

 

Very good.  That’s an appropriate name.  Great.  Thank you very much.  Best of luck.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Okay.  Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  Ladies and gentlemen, if there are any additional questions, please press star, one at this time.  The next question comes from Tim Wilkin of Albany Times Union.  Please go ahead.

 

Tim Wilkin:

 

Hey Kiaran.  Mohaymen seems to have been doing everything to easy.  Have you even had to get to the bottom of him yet?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

No, we haven’t and that’s why I say it’s not a bad thing to have his toughest challenge to date be five weeks from the Derby, so we’re kind of looking forward to that and see how we get on.  But we haven’t gotten to the bottom of him yet, for sure.

 

Tim Wilkin:

 

Is that kind of scary? To see if you’re a horse running against him?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Yes.  I think it is a little scary but I’m sure that Doug O’Neill’s team feels the same way about their horse, but this is a very special colt and it’s fun to have him in the barn.

 

Tim Wilkin:

 

When did you know he was going to be special?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

That’s a good question.  I mean we always liked him.  We always liked him from the beginning.  We didn’t start working him until the first week in July because he didn’t come in until late June, and he came into Belmont (inaudible) Saratoga, but all of his works were excellent but we didn’t really know that he was going to be a special horse probably ‘til after his first start, second start and he seems to be improving all the time.

 

Tim Wilkin:

 

One last one, Kiaran.  How did Frosted come out of the World Cup and do you have any plans for him heading down the line in the immediate future?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

He came out of (inaudible) and kind of he was very wide and we weren’t good enough to beat California Chrome on the day, but he’s going to fly back Thursday and we’ll get him back to Belmont maybe Sunday.  We don’t have any plans at this time.  Obviously we might look at the Suburban first week in July but no plans yet.

 

Tim Wilkin:

 

Well Kiaran, good luck for this weekend.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Thank you very much, Tim.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  The next question comes from Melissa Hoppert of the New York Times.  Please go ahead.

 

Melissa Hoppert:

 

Hi Kiaran.  I was wondering if you could give us your thoughts on the $1 million bonus.  Do you think that’s good for the sport, or what are your feelings?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Oh yes.  Any bonuses are great any time.  I wish I was up for the bonus too.  I think it’s great that we have two of the best colts in the country running against each other Saturday.  It’s a great race and you don’t see this happen very often, and maybe it’s partly because of the million-dollar bonus.  So it’s a plus for the industry and a plus for the owners and trainers if they happen to win it Saturday.

 

Melissa Hoppert:

 

Great.  Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  Just so you know, there’s a little bit of background noise on the-

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

I’m in a big storm.  I’m in a storm, I’m sorry.

 

Operator:

 

Okay.  Thank you.  The next question comes from Jennie Rees of the Horse Racing Radio Network.  Please go ahead.

 

Jennie Rees:

 

Hi Kiaran.  Two preps (inaudible) become kind of a fashionable way to get to the Derby and it’s been very successful.  Amongst your last two Derby horses have had three preps.  Could you just try to comment on your philosophy, the three versus the two?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

I’m sorry.  I’m in a storm right now.  I didn’t hear that.

 

Jennie Rees:

 

Okay.  I was saying that in recent years two preps has been in vogue to get to the Derby and it’s been very successful.  At least your last two Derby horses have had three preps so could you just talk about your philosophy with what is the ideal number of prep races of three before the Kentucky Derby?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Hopefully this year it’s three.  I mean the reason that Cairo Prince only had two was he ran real fast and won the Holy Bull impressively, I believe it was the Holy Bull, too fast and then we had to skip the Fountain of Youth and ran back in the Florida Derby.  But I just feel like three races are ideal to me personally provided the horse is doing great and everything is going well.  I like to run about once a month, so to me that’s what I like.

 

Jennie Rees:

 

Okay.  Thanks.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  Ladies and gentlemen, if you do have a question, please press star, one at this time.  The next question comes from Dick Downey of the Downey Profile.  Please go ahead.

 

Dick Downey:

 

Kiaran, it looks like it’ll be a small field in the Florida Derby.  Given that assumption, do you have a preference as to where you draw in the gate? Inside or outside of Nyquist?

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Probably prefer to be outside of him because he might show a little more speed than us and we just keep an eye on him and see what he’s doing and how fast he’s going.  So probably prefer to be on the outside of him.

 

Dick Downey:

 

All right.  Thank you, sir.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  The next question comes from Tom Jica of South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  Please go ahead.

 

Tom Jica:

 

Kiaran, I know you kind of addressed this before but without diminishing the other horses, this is basically a two-horse race.  How much do you tell your jockey, you know, “Ride against Nyquist and don’t worry about the others,” and if it comes down to it in the stretch, do you say, “Hey, there’s three more grade 1s coming up.  Let’s not empty him out today.”

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

No.  We want to go and win the race and we will, if we have to empty him out on Saturday, no problem.  It’s a grade 1 and we need to try and win and do all we can do to win it and I’ll revive him over the next five weeks.  I’ll promise the jockey that.

 

Tom Jica:

 

Will he ride essentially against Nyquist? Again, not to diminish the other horses but they’re in a different universe than you and Nyquist.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Yes.  We will probably—I’ll leave it up to Junior but he will be keeping an eye on him and it will be basically a bias (phon) race, I agree with you, but we might be a little closer or attack him a little bit earlier than another horse and might have to come and take him on earlier in the race.

 

Tom Jica:

 

Okay.  Thank you very much, Kiaran.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  There are no further questions at this time.  I’ll turn the conference back to Mr. Mulvihill.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

All right, Kiaran.  We’re going to let you go.  Thank you so much for the time.  We really appreciate it and we all wish you the best of luck on Saturday in the Florida Derby.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin:

 

Thank you very much, Jim.  I appreciate it.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Any time.  That was Kiaran McLaughlin offering quite a bit of insight on his Florida Derby contender Mohaymen.  Now, Mohaymen’s main competitor in this match of the undefeated on Saturday will of course be the Eclipse Award-winning champion 2-year-old Nyquist and we’re thrilled now to be joined by his trainer Doug O’Neill.  A son of Uncle Mo, Nyquist is 6 for 6 and three of his wins have come in grade 1 events, including of course last fall’s Breeders Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.  Now, Doug also is looking at the Spiral for his grade 1 winner Ralis, so we’ve got that to ask him about, and he’s got another grade 1 winner the filly Gomo who’s also heading to Florida on the same flight as Nyquist for the Gulfstream Park Oaks.

 

Now, let’s bring in Doug O’Neill.  Doug, it’s Jim Mulvihill of the NTRA.  Thanks for coming on our call.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Of course.  Hello Jim.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Hey, it’s great to have you on with us again.  Let’s get right into the Florida Derby.  A win in this race would be worth $1.6 million to Nyquist and to Mr. Reddam thanks to that big Fasig-Tipton bonus.  Just tell us about the decision to ship across the country for this race and if that was a tough call to make at all.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

You know, after we got lucky in the Breeders Cup Juvenile that was kind of a decision we made was if he stayed injury-free we would choose San Vicente and then five weeks out the Florida Derby and usually in life and especially in this business when you make a plan, usually you got to false notables (phon) and so far everything has kind of unfolded in the way we are liking it.  The million-dollar bonus does come into play a little bit but it wasn’t the deciding factor to go in the Florida Derby.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Is it safe to say that when he shipped to Keeneland for the Breeders Cup everything went according to plan? I mean that must have been something that you thought about, making this call.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

For sure.  That’s one thing, shipping horses, you just never know how they’re going to handle that and he handled the Keeneland journey so well that it gave us the confidence that we only have to ship him once and then we’re optimistic for a big run on Saturday and then from there we’ll fly into Keeneland and use Keeneland as prep for the Derby.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Doug, I was thinking back to the Juvenile and after the race when Dennis told us he was talking about purchasing this horse, he and Jamie McCalmont going to the sale in Florida and he said this was the most beautiful horse he had ever purchased, and then he said, “When he fills out as a 3-year-old he’ll be even more magnificent.” So I’m just wondering if you can talk about Nyquist as a physical specimen and what specifically that make him stand out, make him so beautiful?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Well, they’re all beautiful when they’re 6-for-6.  That helps.  No, he really is.  He’s a well-balanced, well-mannered.  He’s very professional.  He carries himself with a lot of confidence and he’s just one of those horses you look at him and whether he was by Uncle Mo or Uncle Jerry or whatever, by nobody, he just carries himself like a champion.  It’s hard to really—the beauty of the sport is you can get 100 great horsemen and they don’t always agree on what they see in a horse.  I know Dennis has always loved him.  Now, Brandon (ph), who’s amazing with young horses, he always loved him.  Of course from my standpoint as a trainer, we see horses walking in the Winner’s Circle that are short, tall, fat, skinny.  Winners come in all different sizes but he does have the ‘it’ factor as far as he just carries himself with a lot of class.  He’s well-balanced and I just—it’s hard to really put your finger on one particular thing, why we love him, but when you’re around him for a short period of time you fall in love with just his presence.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Very good.  Well, Doug, I’m going to turn it over to Michelle, the Operator, and she’s going to see what questions the media have for you.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Great.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  Ladies and gentlemen, as a reminder, if you do have a question, please press star, one at this time.

 

Our first question comes from Ron Flatter at RSN Australia.  Please go ahead.

 

Ron Flatter:

 

Doug, we just heard from Kiaran a few minutes ago suggesting that he looks at your horse having more speed than Mohaymen.  Will you put him out on the lead? Do you want him out on the lead in this race? Or do you think somebody else will get out there for you?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

It’s a great question, Ron.  I think post positions will have something to do with that and Mario knows Nyquist better than any of us so he’s going to leave there with confidence and then just kind of has to play it by ear.  So, that’s a hard question to answer, really.  It’ll—when Mario leaves the paddock on Nyquist it’s all up to him on how the race unfolds.

 

Ron Flatter:

 

If it weren’t for the million-dollar Fasig-Tipton bonus, where would you have sent this horse for the next race?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

I swear it sounds silly, I know, but we love the five weeks out so this one kind of would have been strongly on the map for a race.  We might have at the time – we had no idea what would happen at Sunland Park – but we even liked the Sunland Park Derby back in November as a potential final prep for the Kentucky Derby because it gave you an additional week, but when you weigh those two and then the bonus, the Florida Derby just made all the sense.  But, I’d have to have Paul and Zillah Reddam on the line too to really answer that perfectly but that’s kind of—that was the thought process back three, four months ago.

 

Ron Flatter:

 

As you look at the record of Breeders Cup Juvenile Champions, only 1 for 31 in the Kentucky Derby and nine years since the only one, what’s your theory as to why that’s the case?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

I think it’s just something that you see a lot of 2-year-olds that are real precocious and maybe have a mental edge on some better horses that mature as they get into the 3-year-old year.  I’m hoping, I’m optimistic that Nyquist is one of those that he was mentally mature as a 2-year-old and we’re just continuing to see him get better and handle things better and physically stronger.  I think that’s probably why you don’t see a lot of 2-year-old champions maybe go on as 3-year-olds, but injuries play a big part in that as well.  Like everyone, we’ve just got to keep Nyquist injury-free and I think we’re very optimistic of what we could do this year.

 

Ron Flatter:

 

Thank you, Doug.  Safe travels and good luck.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Thank you, Ron.  Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  The next question comes from the line of Danny Brewer at HorseRacingScoop.com.  Please go ahead.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

Hey Dougie, how’s it going, man?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Great, Danny.  It’s the best name ever.  It’s my son’s name and my brother’s name so, love the name.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

There you go.  Atta boy.  We’ve talked in the past about a foundation being built for this racehorse.  When you consider all the Florida Derby offers as far as travel and competition and all this stuff, is this a couple of more cinder blocks or is this the whole west wing you’re building for this rascal?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

That’s a great question, Danny.  I think what we’re able to do in Southern California on a daily basis, just Mother Nature seems to be kind to us out there more times than not, other than the earthquakes, but I think we’re building a good foundation on a daily basis with the gallops and the maintenance work and stuff.  But I think the journey to Florida is definitely something that is great under the experience ledger and then being able to have five weeks just the more build offs of the race on Saturday I think helps.  It’s definitely building blocks to where we want to be that first Saturday in May.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

Depending on what happens in Florida, does he go back to Southern California between then and the Derby as long as everything goes okay?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

The plan is for him to run well Saturday and come out of it well and then he’ll fly to Keeneland and we chose Keeneland to prep for the Derby just because with call it their synthetic training track, if it does happen to rain off and on, you can still train on there religiously.  We love Keeneland for that and they were kind enough to say, “You’re welcome to come here if you choose.” So that’s the plan at this point.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

Awesome.  Land Over Sea, I know you got a nice win last Saturday.  What about her and your thoughts on her?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Yes.  She ran dynamite.  I’m just so proud of her and she’s one that had a really nice 2-year-old campaign and she looks like she’s stepping it up and improving in her 3-year-old year, so very proud of the whole team for that.  Another Paul and Zillah Reddam production and Dennis O’Neill and Jamie McCalmont.  Her plan is to go into Keeneland right around the same time and she’ll train there for the first Friday in May.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

Last one for me.  Do you think running against Songbird helped her be better? Do you think?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

That’s a great question, Danny.  I think a lot of horses running and Songbird just rips their heart out and makes them say, “God, I’m doing everything I can.  I’m a nice filly and I cannot get close to that horse.” You worry that they just stop trying and to see what she did in Louisiana against some nice fillies really shows that getting away from Songbird really helped her confidence and it just showed you how great Songbird is because we were running a lot of seconds but we were pretty far behind her and just very proud of her the way, the last three or four months she really kicked it in there at the Fairgrounds.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

Great job, man.  Appreciate the time.  I’ll be in touch, okay?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

You got it, brother.  Thank you.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  The next question comes from Art Wilson at the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.  Please go ahead.

 

Art Wilson:

 

Hey Doug.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Hey neighbor.  How are you doing?

 

Art Wilson:

 

Good.  Good.  I was wondering, the races that you’ve seen Mohaymen run, what is it that impresses you the most about him?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

What impresses me about him?

 

Art Wilson:

 

About Mohaymen, yes.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

I’ve got to think it’s just his determination, his will to win.  He just gets it done and there’s a couple of really long stretch runs where he just—there was no one going to get by him.  I think his ability to get the job done.  His pedigree is second to none and then Kiaran McLaughlin and his whole crew are grade 1, so I think he’s got a lot of strength behind him and obviously we’re optimistic that we can compete with him and hopefully beat him.  He has a lot in his corner just to be scared of, for sure.

 

Art Wilson:

 

Do you feel that with Nyquist having won three grade 1s and passed that big test in the Breeders Cup Juvenile where he had to ship and beat a large field on Breeders Cup day? Do you think he has any kind of an edge where you maybe think Nyquist is a little more battle-tested than Mohaymen is at this point?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

It’s a tough call.  You know, I don’t really know the horse behind Mohaymen.  I mean you’re talking New York and Florida, you’re talking the best circuit.  I think California and New York and Florida are the (inaudible).  I mean you’re talking about top circuits racing but I do think Nyquist leaving California, going to Kentucky, facing the top horses of his era there and breaking for the 13-hole (phon) and that’s breaking super clean, being wide on both turns and still getting it done, you know, it definitely gives us confidence going into Saturday for sure.

 

Art Wilson:

 

Okay.  Thanks, Doug.  Best of luck on Saturday, Doug.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Thank you, Art.  Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  The next question comes from Tim Wilkin of Albany Times Union.  Please go ahead.

 

Tim Wilkin:

 

Hey Doug, as you’ve been on the Triple Crown trail in years past you don’t usually see this kind of hype for a cup race, even though it’s the grade 1 Florida Derby.  How jazzed up are you getting for this race to face this horse? And your horse obviously being there as well.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

You broke up there a little bit.  How did I do what? I’m sorry.

 

Tim Wilkin:

 

With the hype on this race being a Triple Crown prep race, how jazzed up do you get for a match up like this?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

God, it’s why you get up early every morning and go to the barn, it’s for opportunities like this.  You know, to have—in most polls we’ve got number two, Mohaymen’s number one.  To have that match-up five weeks before the Kentucky Derby is awesome.  I think it’s awesome for the sport.  It’s so exciting for all the connections and the Mohaymen team thinks they’re going to win.  They Nyquist team, we think we’re going to win.  I think it’s great and hopefully whatever happens on Saturday these two and others will meet and then it’ll just be a great year of just top 2-year-olds battling and I think there’s nothing wrong with being top competition before the Kentucky Derby.

 

Tim Wilkin:

 

Great.  Thanks, Doug.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

All right.  Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  The next question comes from Debbie Arrington of the Sacramento Bee.  Please go ahead.

 

Debbie Arrington:

 

Hi Doug.  Thanks a lot for coming on this morning.  Nyquist, he was precocious as a 2-year-old last year.  How’s he matured at three? Has he seemed to be growing up?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Really, that’s a great question, Debbie.  He really has and I think a huge credit to Johnny Garcia, his daily exercise rider has done such a brilliant job of getting him to settle and we always talk about with 2-year-olds turning 3, it’s so easy for them to confuse the 7/8th pole as a 3/8th pole and once they go into that first turn of a two-turn race a lot of the younger horses bolt, turn it loose because they think they’re getting ready to finish up the race.  Johnny has done a brilliant job of getting him to realize when he hits that 7/8th pole it’s still—you’ve got a long journey ahead and relax.  Just a lot of credit to him and I think he’s just been—he’s a very special horse.  He’s a smart horse and he knows when Johnny or Mario calls on him, he responds and gives everything he’s got.  So far so good.  He’s had a wonderful campaign so far.

 

Debbie Arrington:

 

What’s Nyquist like to be around? Is he a friendly horse? Is he a little stuttish (ph) or is he very easy, laid-back type of horse?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

He’s a very confident horse.  He likes to hang at the front of the stall but if it’s real quiet he’ll go to the back of the stall and he’ll stand right along the one wall there and he’ll sleep standing up a lot.  He’s matured a lot that way.  The younger horse, he could be a little bit rambunctious in the morning before we tracked him and he’s calmed down a lot there.  That’s a credit to his groom Elias and Elias is just such a calming influence for all of us, but Nyquist for sure.  He likes to nip at the pony a little bit and he likes to let everyone know he’s in charge but he’s got a real calm mind about him.

 

Debbie Arrington:

 

How did Nyquist get his name? Mr. Reddam has got such colorful names, like Frank Conversation and I’ll Have Another.  Nyquist, is he named after a friend of Paul’s, or how did he get the name?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

That’s a great question.  He’s named after Gustav Nyquist, a winger on the Detroit Red Wings.  Paul and Zillah are huge fans.  Yes, a Swedish hockey player.  Who wouldn’t think of a Swedish hockey player for a great racehorse name? But, yes, Paul and Zillah love the Detroit Red Wings.  They love Gustav Nyquist and that’s who he’s named after.

 

Debbie Arrington:

 

That’s very cool, as long as he doesn’t act like a hockey player sometimes.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

He’s got all his teeth.  Unlike most hockey players, Nyquist has all his teeth.

 

Debbie Arrington:

 

Very good.  Well, best of luck, Doug.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

You too.  Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  Once again, ladies and gentlemen, if you do have a question, please press star, one at this time.

 

The next question comes from John Pricci of Horseraceinsider.com.  Please go ahead.

 

John Pricci:

 

Good afternoon, Doug.  I was wondering if you can maybe fill us in a little bit more about your training regimen? From what I read here in the East, it seems like you’ve kind of worked out your own kind of interval training style with this horse.  If that’s so, can you tell us a little bit more about it? The second part of that question is have you done this with other individuals or is this something that just happened with Nyquist?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

That’s a great question, John.  I can’t tell you all my secrets otherwise I would help out the competition.  I’m just kidding.

 

Yes, they’re all individuals and I think with better horses if they can handle it I love letting them gallop along to where they can put their feet where they want to put them and not really focus on speed but more endurance.  With some horses we’ll break up those strong gallops with jogs in between.  With Nyquist we have done that recently where he’ll jog two miles one day and then he’ll gallop strong one day and kind of alternate that.  Just an individual thing.  We have—with I’ll Have Another, he galloped strong on a daily basis for a long time and I think it really calms their mind down if you’re not asking them for a ton of speed daily, or even weekly.  You’ll see a lot of people ask horses for a lot of speed weekly and then not a lot during the week.  So if you can get them into a routine, which we have with Nyquist, of galloping strong I think it really helps with their endurance.  It helps with their stride.  You’re not fighting him, but it’s an individual thing and we just kind of play it by ear.

 

John Pricci:

 

Okay.  Then one thing more.  Have you employed this with older individuals, maybe wanting to turn their heads around or build their endurance or anything? Or is this something that’s kind of new in your process?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

No.  We’ve done it for a while.  Actually, I worked for a brief period of time for the late Doug Peterson who had Seattle Slew at the end of his career and when I worked for Doug Peterson he was really big on not so much the distance of the gallop but letting them gallop along.  He really thought it helped them breathe, it helped their stride and when I saw Doug at that time he only had about 12 horses in training but they all ran real competitively and as I moved forward I definitely always had that in my thinking that I would try that on my own if I was ever fortunate enough to go on my own, which I have.  I think with any good horse we’ve had they’ve all had good strong gallop at least three or four, five days a week and I think it’s been beneficial to their rise and doing good things in the afternoon.

 

John Pricci:

 

Thanks very much and have a safe trip on Saturday.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

All right, thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  The next question comes from Melissa Hoppert of the New York Times.  Please go ahead.

 

Melissa Hoppert:

 

Hi Doug.  I was hoping that you could talk a little bit more about the bonus and what it says about the industry.  Is there a little bit of an American Pharaoh effect going on here? Is there momentum in the industry? Can you talk more about that?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

I’d like to think so.  I’m very optimistic at the root.  I do think that for sales and race tracks to offer bonuses is a smart thing.  It definitely weighed into all of our decision making.  I think it’s a good sign.  It’s a hard question to answer.  I don’t think you’d see a lot of tracks doing it but anything that you can do to kind of raise the awareness of the great sport and these great athletes I think is a good thing.

 

Melissa Hoppert:

 

Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  The next question comes from Tom Jica of South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  Please go ahead.

 

Tom Jica:

 

Doug, I got kind of what I would call ego questions.  I know you’re a competitive guy.  You couldn’t be in the business if you weren’t.  You’ve got the undefeated Breeders Cup Champion, the Eclipse Champion and yet in all the polls he’s ranked behind Mohaymen and they put out the odds on those last Kentucky Derby Future today, he’s ranked again well behind Mohaymen.  Does that bother you at all?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Not at all, Tom.  I like coming under the radar.  I just want to keep flying.  If we keep flying under the radar, I love it.  You know, I think it’s one of those where they paid a lot of money for Mohaymen and rightfully so; he’s turned out to be an amazing horse.  He’s probably the hottest stallion in the country and Uncle Mo is not too far behind him.  It doesn’t bother me at all.  I think as long as our horse continues to do well, I have no problem with what the experts are saying.  It just makes for an even more exciting Saturday because we think—we’re very optimistic about how the race will unfold.

 

Tom Jica:

 

All right.  I guess 1A to that.  No matter what happen—people are calling this the biggest race between 3-year-old contenders in years and I agree with that.  There are still people who say that the best three are olders and filly.  How do you feel about that?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Gosh, I mean we’ve run against Songbird and then there’s a couple of other nice 3-year-old fillies as well.  It’s possible.  You never know.

 

Tom Jica:

 

(Cross-talking) about Songbird.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Songbird.  Well, she’s freakishly fast out of the gate and she’s got stamina.  Speed and stamina wins just about most races.  So, she’s got two of the greatest qualities a racehorse can have.  She’s got tons of class.  She’s got great connections with Team Hollendorfer.  Hopefully Nyquist or Mohaymen or any other top 3-year-old male doesn’t have to chase her any time in the near future, but whenever that does come, that’ll be an interesting add to the mix because she’s—we’re blessed enough to watch her train on a daily basis and you could very easily confuse her for a colt the way she trains.

 

Tom Jica:

 

Thank you.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  The next question comes from Bill Jenak (ph) of Gulfstream Park.  Please go ahead.

 

Bill Jenak:

 

Hey Doug, I just wanted to change gears for a second and ask you about Gomo going into the Oaks.  Just if you could tell us how she’s doing and how she’s been since winning the grade 1 at Keeneland.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Thank you.  Gomo is doing fantastic.  After her grade 1 at Keeneland she chipped an ankle so we had Dr.  Cheney and Dr. Larry Bramlage clean up her ankle, gave her time off and she’s back training fantastic and we were debating over the Santa Anita Oaks and Songbird, which was a real exciting, or bringing her out to the Oaks at Gulfstream which we ended up choosing to do.  We’re excited about it.  She’s a super talented filly by Uncle Mo as well and we’re optimistic that she’s going to run a big race on Saturday.

 

Bill Jenak:

 

Okay.  She won at the distance in that grade 1 so are you feeling confident that coming off that layoff might be the biggest issue for her?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Yes.  I mean she’s also been galloping really strong.  I think she’s had like four 5/8ths workouts and she hasn’t really missed a beat since she’s come back.  She’s got a lot of miles underneath her.  She’s got experience on her side and the only thing is she hasn’t run in a little bit but she’s been training like the layoff won’t bother her at all and I think we’re going to see a big effort on Saturday from her.

 

Bill Jenak:

 

Okay, great.  Thanks, Doug.  Look forward to seeing you this weekend.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Okay.  All right, thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  There are no further questions at this time.  We’ll turn the call back to Mr. Mulvihill.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Doug, before we let you go, I did want to get into Ralis a little bit.  I understand that he might be going to Turfway for the Spiral.  Is that correct?

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Correct.  Yes, he’s actually there now and we enter tomorrow.  He’s doing well.  He had not the greatest of luck with the trip the other day and so we’re putting a line through that.  He came out of it in great shape and we’re going to see how he acts on the synthetic at the Derby prep.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Very good.  I guess it’s not that hard to wheel back in two weeks when you feel like he didn’t actually get to run his race in Arkansas.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Not at all.  Mario rode him and Mario, he went to the inside.  It looked like the boy who was on the inside was coming off the rail so he went to the inside and then the boy came back and kind of shut up that spot.  At that point he just knew he wasn’t going to be in the top five so he just kind of eased up on him and we had the luxury of seeing him, how good he came out of it because of it.  We’re going to chalk that up to just a workout type of effort and hopefully we get a better trip come Saturday.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Very good.  Well, Doug, thank you so much for all this great information today and we look forward to seeing you in Florida on Saturday.

 

Doug O’Neill:

 

Any time.  Thanks a lot.  Thank you.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

All right.  Doug O’Neill, the trainer of the 2-year-old champion Nyquist preparing for Florida’s big race, the Florida Derby on Saturday and with that big showdown looming, we don’t want to forget that there is nice day of racing Saturday at Turfway Park.  That of course is highlighted by the Spiral Stakes.  It’s the only Derby prep race in the Championship Series which is the second part of the points races.  The only one to be run on an all-weather surface and with 30 points to the winner there’s a good chance of this race producing a Derby starter.  The Spiral is going to have four from Mike Maker.  Larry Jones is going to be in there with Jensen.  We heard Doug talk about Ralis, and also likely to be among the top choices is Airoforce who was a graded stakes winner on turf and dirt, very nearly a Breeders Cup Winner, and he won the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs last fall which has turned out to be a very key race for Derby hopefuls.

 

So we’re happy now to be joined by Airoforce’s trainer Mark Casse.  Mark, it’s Jim Mulvihill in Lexington.  Thanks for joining us.

 

Mark Casse:

 

Thanks for having me, Jim.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

We appreciate your time.  There were very high hopes for Airoforce coming into this season but he didn’t run his race in the Risen Star, so can you just give us some thoughts on what might have happened that day.

 

Mark Casse:

 

We’re still not really sure what happened.  Julien said he was running along nice.  Thought he was in a good spot and at the half-mile pole he just kind of threw his head up and I think initially Julien was concerned that maybe something had went wrong and he kind of just let him gallop along from that point on.  We brought him to Ocala which is home for us and went over him from head to tail and really haven’t found a whole lot to giving him an excuse.  The only thing I would say after the race at the Fairgrounds, he did cough a lot.  He was just choking and coughing after the race.  Didn’t take him long to recover, he wasn’t really tired, but he did do a lot of choking and coughing.  We don’t really know why.  He’s come back.  He’s trained very well and we think that the Spiral makes sense.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

And when you’re training there at Ocala you do get to train over a somewhat similar all-weather surface, correct?

 

Mark Casse:

 

We’re lucky.  We have the option of three surfaces.  We can train on the dirt.  We can train on the turf and the synthetic.  Early on when I brought him back to Ocala he trained on the dirt but his last two breezes I did take him to OBS which is called Safetrack.  It’s a synthetic track and so his last two breezes have been on the synthetic and we were very pleased.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Excellent.  Glad to hear that.  I understand Whatawonderfulworld is also – may be under consideration for the Spiral, so is there a decision on that, or perhaps the Rushaway.

 

Mark Casse:

 

Yeah.  He’s not coming for either one.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Oh, I see.  Okay.  I’m sorry to hear that.  We’ll just leave it at that.

 

Mark Casse:

 

Okay.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

I’ll give it back to Michelle.  She’s going to check and see if any of the media have questions for you.

 

Mark Casse:

 

Okay.  Thank you.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  Ladies and gentlemen, if you do have a question, please press star, one at this time.

 

Our first question comes from the line of Jennie Rees of Horse Race Radio Network.  Please go ahead.

 

Jennie Rees:

 

Hey Mark.  With Airoforce, he was coughing but he wasn’t sick or no blood or anything?

 

Mark Casse:

 

No.  No actually.  No, not really.  We scoped him before he flew down.  We scoped him the day before he ran and we scoped him.  The only thing he had going on directly after, right after the race was just a lot of dirt.  Just a lot of dirt in his trachea and stuff.  He never really got sick or anything, no.

 

Jennie Rees:

 

Well, when you famously declared him off the Derby trail after that race, was your initial instinct well maybe he’s just not a dirt horse.

 

Mark Casse:

 

Really my initial instinct was disappointment and confusion.  I just, I didn’t even want to think about it because I wanted to try to—I didn’t want to have that Derby fever that made me rush things about rushing back or do things, so that’s why I said it.  He’s kind of come back; he surprised me actually how well he’s come back and how good he’s training so I’ve been asked a lot of questions.  A lot of people ask if he runs good this weekend would you consider the Derby again, and of course we would consider it but right now we’re just trying to—we’re just looking for a good race this weekend.

 

Jennie Rees:

 

How much is a factor that you know he runs well at Churchill Downs and your belief from all of your experience there that some synthetic and turf horses seem to really handle the Churchill stit (ph) far better than they might in a dirt track.

 

Mark Casse:

 

For sure, and that always gives us hope.  If they were running the Kentucky Derby at the Fairgrounds I’d say there was probably no chance we were running in the Derby.  You know, I’ve told you this for 15 years or so, it’s my feeling that horses that have a turf tendency or a synthetic tendency seem to be able to handle Churchill better than the average dirt race track.  That’s keeping us in the game, yes.

 

Jennie Rees:

 

When you ran him in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill, did you go into that race thinking, “Boy, this is a really tough race.” I mean looking at what the top four have come out and done afterwards? Or has it-

 

Mark Casse:

 

Well, you never can tell.  You never really know how good a race is until three, four, five months later, for the most part.  I thought it was a good race.  I didn’t think it was a … I mean with Gun Runner coming out of there and Bob’s horse, I mean who would have thought? I always have been pretty—I saw Gun Runner when he came and I was impressed by him there.  You never know.  I thought it was a very strong race.  I didn’t know it was going to be as good a race as it turned out to be.

 

Jennie Rees:

 

Finally, you’ve nominated South Side Warrior I believe to the Rushaway and also Conquest Bebop to the Bourbonette.  Would either of them be coming and running in those races?

 

Mark Casse:

 

No.  Bebop is going to run at Keeneland on the grass probably and then I think South Side Warrior is going to do the same thing.  He’s going to run at Keeneland.  We plan to run a lot of horses at Keeneland.

 

Jennie Rees:

 

Yes.  Okay.  Well, good deal.  I’ll see you when you make it to Kentucky.

 

Mark Casse:

 

Okay.  Thanks Jennie.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  Once again, ladies and gentlemen, if you do have a question please press star, one at this time.

 

The next question comes from Danny Brewer at HorseRacingScoop.com.  Please go ahead.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

Mr. Casse, how are you doing today?

 

Mark Casse:

 

Good.  How are you, Danny?

 

Danny Brewer:

 

I’m doing great.  With what you’ve said with Jennie and what not, did you just we draw a line through the Risen Star and put it in file 13 and forget about it? Of course depending on what he does this Saturday.

 

Mark Casse:

 

Well, yes.  You know, as I said, if he ran, you know, and sits fourth or fifth and got five or six, you could say (inaudible) on the dirt.  His race was so bad that, you know, I don’t know what you do with that.  The only thing you can do is draw a line through it.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

Okay.  As far as training for a guy like John Oxley, can you comment a little bit on Mr. Oxley and what might work for a guy like him?

 

Mark Casse:

 

You know, he’s just one of the best.  He’s been doing it forever and what a disappointment for Airoforce, running the way he did, and of course he was disappointed after the race but, you know what? He’s back to try it again and as long as the horse is healthy he’s happy.  He’s a joy to train for and he’s a true gentleman.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

Another horse yet, Noble Bird.  What about Noble Bird? What can you tell me about him? I think he’s (cross-talking)

 

Mark Casse:

 

Noble Bird we do—we ran him at Oaklawn and he did run very well, and honestly, he just never—.Noble Bird is a great training horse and he just would train kind of average at Oaklawn and looking back, yes, last year he won at Oaklawn but it was a one-off event and he barely won that.  We ended up—I ended up deciding not to run him any more at Oaklawn.  I just think, or I hope that what it is is that he just struggles with that racetrack.  We’ve moved him to Keeneland.  He’s at Keeneland; In fact I think he’s going to work in the morning, and we’re going to look at possibly I think the Ben Ali maybe for him.  He just did not train well at Oaklawn.  Oaklawn is a funny track.  It’s kind of deep and some horses love it and some horses just don’t like it at all.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

Could we maybe see him on the undercard at the Derby at Churchill Downs?

 

Mark Casse:

 

That would be the hope, you know.  That’s what we would be aiming for.  He’s needs to—his last race was a tough race.  He had a—I knew he would get tired and he had a really wide trip on both turns and he got a little late, he got a little weak late which he did that the first time I ran him last year as well.  That’s our plan.  Hopefully we can make Derby Week.

 

Danny Brewer:

 

I certainly do wish you the best of luck, okay? Thanks a lot.

 

Mark Casse:

 

Thank you.  Have a great day.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  There are no further questions at this time.  I’ll turn the conference back to Mr. Mulvihill.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

All right.  Mark, before we let you go I just wanted to ask about if there are any other horses in your barn that you might consider to be still Derby or Triple Crown possibilities at this point.  I mean you’ve got other quality 3-year-olds I’ve seen on the work tab, the Canadian Champ in Ryker and Conquest Big E.  Are any of these maybe going to turn up in any of the major 3-year-old stakes on dirt?

 

Mark Casse:

 

Not currently.  Big E, I’m probably just going to give him a little break.  Probably you’ll see him come back on the turf.  I might try him on the turf.  He had nice work the other day on the turf.  Riker, we’re looking at possibly maybe the Pat Day on Derby day, going a mile.  I have one horse and he’s still about 30 to 45 days away from running, but he is as good a 3-year-old as we have.  That’s a horse called Conquest Enforcer, but his goal is going to be probably the Queen’s Plate.  A lot of these horses I feel like we gave them an opportunity to see if we trained them through the wintertime in hopes that they were Derby type horses and now that they’ve proven that that’s not going to work for them, this is the kind of time where I give them a little bit of a break and try to get them ready for the summer.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Very good.  Well, there is a lot of talent in there and we’ll look forward to hearing more about all these horses throughout the rest of the year.  Mark, we really appreciate your time this morning and wish you luck Saturday in the Spiral.

 

Operator:

 

Pardon the interruption.  It’s Michelle.

 

Mark Casse:

 

Thank you.  Have a great day.

 

Operator:

 

We do have a question on the line.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Oh, hold on.  It looks like we got a question that emerged.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  Sorry about that.  It comes from Tom Jica of South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  Please go ahead.

 

Tom Jica:

 

Mark, you’ve run against Nyquist in the Breeders Cup Juvenile.  You’ve ran against Mohaymen in the Holy Bull.  How do you assess these two horses with the big showdown coming Saturday? You don’t have a dog in that fight so you’re kind of like-

 

Mark Casse:

 

No.  Kiaran used to work for me, and Doug’s a great guy.  I think I—I really haven’t—it’s going to be an interesting race but more importantly I think it’s great for horse racing to see those two get together.  Obviously Kiaran’s horse maybe has a little bit of a home field advantage, but I don’t know.  It’s going to be a good race.

 

Tom Jica:

 

Okay.  Thank you.

 

Mark Casse:

 

You’re not going to get me to commit.

 

Tom Jica:

 

No, I guess not, so I’m not going to push you.

 

Mark Casse:

 

Okay.  All right.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

Very good.  Tom snuck in there with the last question, but Mark, we appreciate the time and all the thoughts on all your horses this afternoon.  Thanks so much.

 

Mark Casse:

 

Okay.  Thank you, bye.

 

Jim Mulvihill:

 

All right.  That was Mark Casse and that will do it for today’s National Media Teleconference.  Our thanks once again not just to Mark but also to Kiaran and Doug.  A lot of great information on this call today.  My thanks also to Joan Lawrence for lining up these guests.  It’s really been a dynamite lineup, not just today but last week as well.  We hope to see you all on these calls the next couple of Tuesdays as well as we continue on through the Derby Championship Series.

 

Now I’ll send it back to our operator, Michelle, to wrap up.

 

Operator:

 

Thank you.  Ladies and gentlemen, this does conclude the conference call for today.  You may now disconnect your line and have a great day.

 

 

 

 

 

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