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Thursday, October 24, 2002
Contact: Notes Team (847) 385-7472/7473

Excerpts From Thursday's Press Conference

Pat Kelly (trainer of Riskaverse and Evening Attire)

"Riskaverse has had a nice little stay here in Arlington. We shipped her a couple days after Keeneland. She's bouncing around, feeling good. I don't have to do a whole lot with her. We're grabbing for the brass ring with the Breeders' Cup. She handles the cool weather fine. It was raining all week in Kentucky. Even though she's a young filly she's run many times and has shipped across the country a couple of times so she actually has kind of a veteran mentality. I wouldn't run her if I didn't think she'd have a chance to possibly upset them again."

(on the Classic) "It's quite a race. The big question at the end of the race will be are the 3yos good enough to handle the old guys or are the old guys better than the 3yos. It breaks down into a young vs. old thing. I was happy Rock of Gibraltar went in the mile."

(on Evening Attire running in the Mud) "He's fine on everything but a really dry track. I think the MassCap track was really dry, kind of a summery kind of track with dry sand. He does improve in the mud. I wouldn't mind it to be wet Saturday, but in the scheme of things, if it's a fine day he'll be fine. He's a consistent horse and I think that's his best trait."

(on the 3yo's in the Classic) "On their best performances they're very nice horses. You're always scared of speed, so War Emblem, you've got to be leary of what that horse can do. Came Home's record is great. He's very consistent. Harlan's Holiday coming off the long vacation showed a little speed and if he improves a little bit, his best races put him right there. It's quite a race."

Aidan O'Brien

(on impressions of Arlington) "Beautiful place. Couldn't be more impressed."

(on decision to enter Rock of Gibraltar in the Mile) "He's been running at a mile all season, and it might be a little bit unfair to ask him into the total unknown."

(on his 2yo's handling the two-turn distance) "Johannesburg had a busier season than any of these 2yos this year. He was more hardened. Most of them were sick through the middle of the year and we didn't get to race them much. Van Nistelrooy, we always knew would be a horse that would get a mile well, and he's a horse that likes to sit behind the pace and seems to come home well in his races. Tomahawk is a high cruiser. He has plenty of early pace and will probably go handy and usually keeps going. Hold That Tiger will be taking his time and Kieren will be riding him as he finds him."

Bob Baffert

(on War Emblem's problems at the gate) "At the Haskell he reared up a little bit and down at Del Mar he just wasn't really himself. He was trying to tell us to back off. That's his way of communicating. He's a very smart horse. Numerous times since then he's gone to the gate. I don't think there will be a problem. He should be fine this week. He schooled perfectly. I think he'd like to be back home."

(on his Juveniles) "I'm going to need all 3 to keep (O'Brien) off my back. I think they are different kinds of horses. Bull Market is definitely a speed horse. Kafwain likes to come from off the pace. I think that Vindication will depend on how he breaks. He likes to be sort of close. I don't know. I'm just going to leave it up to the riders and see how their horse leaves the gate. Vindication broke awkwardly at TP then the rider fell off next to him so he found himself behind. He ran well that way, but this is a whole different group of horses and he can't give them a head start like that. I think the break is going to be so important because they're going a mile and an eighth for the first time and they don't know it. It's going to be who has the stamina in their favor. Going to need a lot of talent and class."

How tough is to win both the Juvenile and Kentucky Derby?

Baffert -- "There's horses just developing right now and these horses are so fragile. There's always these invisible landmines out there on the racetrack that they get injured. It's just one of those things. Keeping them sound is tough. Some come around a little quicker. I think it's a good crop of 2yos and I think the distance will probably help us know more this year after the race is run about which ones will do well first Saturday in May. The 1 1/8th is going to really string them out pretty far I think."

Aidan O'Brien

Who do you think is your best 2yo dirt horse?

"It looks like Tomahawk is a real dirt horse. He's a big high cruiser and loves the level surface. Usually keeps going in his race. Mick (Kinane) had the choice and I think he decided to stay allied to him. He always thought he was a very good colt. Even though it's only a week after the Dewhurst, it's very hard to say how he came out of it until he runs. He seems to be in good form, but we won't really know. Hold That Tiger, Kieran rode him in France, so Mick was aware of that and he's very much a team player. We just wanted to find out about the three horses and the right thing for the horses because he know, he'll be on them the next time anyway. Van Nistelrooy is a horse that we raced a lot to get him experience. He's a high cruiser and keeps going as well. Mick's choice had always been Tomahawk, but he wouldn't be surprised to see any of the others beat him."

Will distance be a problem for Hold That Tiger?

"I always thought that he would stay even though he shows plenty of pace. He just came back very sick after the Heinz and that was the reason there. He came home really well at 7f and Kieran felt like there was loads left and he's a half brother to Editor's Note who won the Belmont, so there's plenty of stamina in his pedigree. You would hope that if he gets a clear run and adapts quick enough to the dirt, he should come home well."

The others? There's no doubt Tomahawk is made for the dirt. The only question is what the Dewhurst did. Van Nistelrooy is also very much a dirt horse. I think they all should handle it. Hopefully they'll all run a big race. Really it would be great if one of them ran a big race.

Aidan O'Brien

Can you compare Rock of Gibraltar with some of your other stars?

"He's very special this fellow. From Day One he paced to be a really fast 2yo and we went up through all the distances at 2 and danced every race, then at 3 he ran in all the Group 1's and turned out every day, one day better than the one before. He's matured now. He's getting heavier and he's a very serious. He cruises well and kicks really well at the end of a race. He's an exceptional horse. But he's had a long season. His coat has turned and so we're just hoping, but he's in good form."

On Hawk Wing

"We always had it in our mind that if he got this far he could be this kind of a horse. He's never disappointed this year and the horses that have beaten him are Rock of Gibraltar and High Chaparral. He's never flinched in a battle and the thing that disadvantaged him back home was that he never got fast ground which he always wanted and he always had tough races. His last two runs were two really good runs also. We're just hoping that the dirt will be something like fast ground which he hasn't got this year. He's had a long hard season and his coat has turned also, so we're just hoping that we can give him a last go and that he'll run a good race hopefully.

Can Landseer beat Rock of Gibraltar?

I wouldn't be surprised. Both are two very good milers. The only blips on Landseer's year were the July Cup where he was only beaten length and a half while drawing the worst ground at six furlongs. Then we went six again because there were no races (longer) at Haydock and we needed to run him very badly and he just got tired. But then he came back here and won in Kentucky so we were never ever disappointed. He won the French Guineas and was second to the 'Rock' in Ascot, so he's a very good colt also."

Bob Baffert

Can you talk about your Juvenile Fillies?

"I think they're three really top fillies. I think Atlantic Ocean's best chance is to get her back like we did at Turfway. At Keeneland, Bailey rode her for the first time and there's so much bias there you've got to jump up and go to the rail, got her in the race early and she just ran off with him and sort of emptied out. Her best shot is getting a hold of her early and letting her finish up.

"Composure and Santa Catarina are two different types of fillies. 'Santa' ran a great race at Belmont but, got a little tired, but that race did her some good, I think the two turns will make her more effective. That's going to be the difference with a lot of these fillies. Composure is just getting better and better and we've always really liked her a lot. She's a big filly that's really turned the corner awfully quick. I was really high on her this summer but for some reason at Del Mar she was having a tough time struggling with that race track, but I think I was running her too short, and now it seems like the farther they go the better she is. All three are very tough fillies. It's a pretty strong hand."

Do you think people have jumped off the War Emblem bandwagon?

"I think it's natural in our business that if a horse runs a bad race everybody jumps off. His last race was disastrous and it's natural to say "what have you done for me lately.?" But we were hoping to sneak in here like we did in the Derby, but we don't really worry about that. We're just here with horse that is ready to run. All signs look like he's training well. We're just glad to make it with him after the classics. He's just a super high cruiser that needs to be out there cruising, and he just needs to get out of the gate."

Is it crucial for War Emblem to get the lead?

"He's a very fast horse and he likes to lead. That's his running style. I told Victor no matter how you break, send him out there and see what happens. We know taking a hold of him is disastrous. With E Duabi, we'll probably go pretty quick early. At this point I don't even try to handicap because there's so many little things that people worry about. There's a lot of pressure on everybody. The fact that we're here with a very strong hand, we feel good about that. It's his last race here in the States, there's a lot of people that will come out to see him, so there's a lot of pressure, but we're just hoping for racing luck. That's all we can hope for right now."

How important is the Breeders' Cup to you?

"Obviously this the Olympics of Thoroughbred races and we look forward to this every year and we just hope that when you compete early on in the classics and try to get them through against the older horses in the middle of the season, and then you just hope they just last this far. I think you always have to forgive them if they've gone a little bit over at this time, but we always look forward to it."

Donna Ward

(on Sky Mesa) "He made a lot of mistakes (in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity), but your opinion depends on how well you know the horse. I told Edgar to get to the lead by the head of the stretch because of the short stretch at Keeneland. When you make your move, make a good move, and I want the lead by the head of the stretch. Well we did make a good move but we were 4 lengths in front, and with all fairness to 'Mesa,' he had never seen the Keeneland grandstand with people in it. When he came around that turn and 25,000 people were screaming, if you watched his ears, I thought he might pull up and jog. He was very green, but it also was a horse realizing that he was not using much effort and he did not even break a sweat. He was out of the test barn in about 20 minutes and his main concern was getting home and eating. I must say it wasn't a very hard race on him. That might hurt me more than anything in that he didn't have to put out much effort in that race."

- END -

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