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Author Topic: Classic - Interview Room Transcript  (Read 1122 times)
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« on: November 04, 2006, 08:13:36 PM »

      ERIC WING:  Okay.  We are back live in the interview room.  Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and jockey Fernando Jara will be joining us in a couple minutes.  In the meantime, we have here representing Shadwell Farm is Rick Nichols, who's the vice‑president and General Manager of Shadwell Stables.
   And Rick, if you'd kindly take a seat behind the podium, we can get going. 
   Rick, congratulations on what I would imagine is the day of your racing lifetime.  Can you tell us about way back when the acquisition of Invasor? 
   RICK NICHOLS:  Yes.  Gentleman who works for Sheikh Hamden bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Asian bin Ali, was down in South America, and he last ‑‑ last summer and he was looking for some endurance horses because they do a lot of endurance races and one of Sheikh Hamden's main rider ‑‑ when these people became available called and asked if we would be interested.
   The boss called me up and said, Let's check him out, which we did.  Greg Clark and Dr. Ruggles went down to have a look at him.  They liked what they saw, and so we bought him, brought him back to Miami.  We took him to Dubai since he was eligible to run in the UAE Derby, and unfortunately that's the only race he's lost.
   Brought him back here, and y'all know the rest of the story.
   ERIC WING:  Rick, could you fill us in on Sheikh Hamdan's reaction after the victory? 
   RICK NICHOLS:  I might be able to tell you in just a second.
   ERIC WING:  If it was the boss, {we} were going to ask you to put it on speaker phone. 
   RICK NICHOLS:  Haven't been able to get through to him yet.  It's been crazy.
   ERIC WING:  Well ‑‑
   RICK NICHOLS:  I know his reaction.  He's over the moon, as they say in England.
   ERIC WING:  Rick, just tell us, is this the best possible outcome as far as Sheikh Hamdan is concerned?  A, winning the race, which is most important; and B, beating his brother? 
   RICK NICHOLS:  Beating his brother was not the goal.  We happened to have two very good horses in the race, and actually when Invasor ran the Fever last month and could not compete in the Gold Cup, I told Sheikh Hamdan, this might be a blessing in disguise because as these two guys were to lock up in the Gold Cup, give each other a hard race, then we might be given the Breeders' Cup away to somebody {else}.
   This way we've got two good shots for the family to win the Classic.  As it {turned} out, it was a blessing in disguise because our horse has done fabulously well since then, and winning this race is one of the stars that you reach for when you're in this business, and we're very happy to be a part of it and to have a horse that can compete in this manner.
   ERIC WING:  Okay, Rick.  With you up on the stage is jockey Fernando Jara.
   Speaking, Rick spoke of blessings, Fernando.  It's been quite a blessed year for you this year.  Virtually unknown on the national stage at the beginning of year, you rode Jazil for Shadwell and Sheikh Hamdan beautifully in the Kentucky Derby, getting up I believe for a dead heat for fourth, weaving your way through all the traffic.
   They kept their faith in you.  You earned Sheikh Hamdan his first classic victory with Jazil in the Belmont Stakes, and just when you thought it couldn't get any better here, we are talking to you after a win in the 5 million‑dollar Breeders' Cup Classic Powered by Dodge.
   Could you talk about the trip you had with Invasor and any traffic problems along the way since you had to get around most of them?
   FERNANDO JARA:  Well, the position 11, the race I just tried to not have trouble and tried to save some ground the first turn and tried to not have any trouble.  When I made the move, tried to be in the clear.
   ERIC WING:  Fernando has to leave to catch a flight in just a few quick minutes.  I want to give anybody an opportunity to ask questions specifically to Fernando.
   Q    Fernando, I assume you had your eye most on Bernardini throughout the race, and at what point did you pretty much know you were going to be able to collar him, to catch him?
   FERNANDO JARA:  I see going to be tough in the end.  He looked strong, and when I ‑‑ I asked my horse to give me all.  He responded good, so I know like the quarter pole, I know.
   ERIC WING:  Fernando, in your wildest imagination of dreaming of being a jockey, did you ever imagine having a year this good, this quickly?
   FERNANDO JARA:  It's very special, all that happen so far so fast in one year. 
   RICK NICHOLS:  What do you expect from a champion?
   Q    Fernando, so many horses did so well on the main track from the rail after seeing that, did you make any changes in your approach to this race?
   FERNANDO JARA:  Sorry.  I don't understand the question.
   Q    Some of the inside horses did well today.  Did you make any changes after seeing that?
   FERNANDO JARA:  I tried to cover him.
   ERIC WING:  Any other questions for Fernando?
   Yes, in the back.
   Q    Fernando, I'm not sure if you're 17 or 18, that young, that brilliant winning the Belmont stakes, coming to Churchill and winning the biggest race in the American racing calendar, and the way you won these two races, you chose to come from behind, showing tremendous judgment.
   At this young age, that kind of judgment, what enables you to exercise that good judgment?  Who teaches you all the tricks?
   FERNANDO JARA:  My dad.  My dad, he always been with me, teaching me like I know now.
   ERIC WING:  Was your dad a jockey?
   FERNANDO JARA:  Excuse me?
   No, a trainer.
   ERIC WING:  What was his name?
   ERIC WING:  Anything else for Fernando before we send him on his way?
   You may not need a plane to get home, Fernando, but congratulations on a terrific performance and a great cap to what's been an outstanding year for you and continued success next year.
   FERNANDO JARA:  Thank you.
   ERIC WING:  We'll stick with Rick Nichols.  Perhaps that is the boss on the phone now.
   Rick, if you would, not to get ahead of yourself, but any {thoughts} on next year for Invasor?
   RICK NICHOLS:  It's going to be up to Sheikh Hamdan, but we'll talk to him, see what he wants to do.  We haven't actually discussed what we would do with him after this race.
   With the fact of winning the Classic, it would be very tempting to go retire him, but it's also very tempting to win the Dubai World Cup in Dubai next March.  So that will be his decision to make once we've had time to think about things.
   Talk to Kairan, see how the horse comes out of this race, see how he looks tomorrow, and make that decision probably in a few days.
   ERIC WING:  Do you think with the victory today that you've wrapped up the horse of the year title for 2006? 
   RICK NICHOLS:  I would surely hope that he would. 
   ERIC WING:  Anything else for Rick Nichols of Shadwell Farm?
   Q    Sheikh Hamdan is in Dubai; is that correct? 
   RICK NICHOLS:  Actually, he's in England right at the moment.
   Q    With the big year that Shadwell has had in America today, starting with Invasor in the Pimlico Special, could you just comment on the big season end, and, as you said before, Sheikh Hamdan doesn't really have a ‑‑ fairly limited stable over here.
   Do you think this might convince the boss to have a few more horses over here? 
   RICK NICHOLS:  He did leave us a few more yearlings this year, but Sheikh Hamdan is kind of on the conservative side.  We only maintain the stable of about 40 head.
   The good year that we've had has been due to his patience and given us time to build a good foundation and found the right type of horses that can compete in America.
   Q    With the win here and also winning the Belmont, is the Derby the last piece of the puzzle for you to go after? 
   RICK NICHOLS:  No.  There's some other races around.  Of course, we did win the Dubai World Cup "Muda Akeel," which was from Ireland.  Shadwell Farm Kentucky has not produced the Dubai World Cup winner yet, but we've managed to win the English Derby, the Kentucky Derby is, yes, it's getting on the short list of races to win.
   Q    Yes.  Just with the financial commitment that the Maktoum family has made and with the success they had today, is it a sign that year after year, they should be a force in the classic and really all of the major races now? 
   RICK NICHOLS:  I don't know.  You better ask Andy Beyer that question.  Yes.  The Maktoum family is going to be a force to be reckoned with for a long time to come.
   ERIC WING:  Rick, Invasor in his first university race was ridden by Ramon Dominguez, and then Fernando Jara picked up the mount in July.  Did his win aboard Jazil kind of earn him or win him the {mount} on Invasor? 
   RICK NICHOLS:   Yes, it did.  Because Dominguez was obligated to run in California in the Suburban weekend, and of course everybody wanted to ride Invasor at that time, and we stood firmly behind Fernando.  He did a great job, he's a great rider, and we knew that he wouldn't bail off of us at the last minute like sometimes happens, and we wanted to support him, give him a good opportunity to give him a good start.  He's a great kid, and obviously he can ride the heck out ever a horse. 
   ERIC WING:  In all your experience with riders, both in the United States and all over the world, does he remind you of anybody at this stage in his career?  He seems extraordinarily patient for a rider so young.
   Anybody come to mind for you? 
   RICK NICHOLS:  He just becomes part of the horse and he is patient like Pat Day, so smart, got a great head on his shoulders.  But the thing he just seems like he becomes part of the horse.  He's not a minus to the horse, he's a plus.
   Q    Just wanted to follow‑up if I could.  It seems that Andy Beyer column did strike a sorry point not only with you but with other people connected with the family.
   May I ask you why?  Because I guess his greatest point was the vast amount of spending which is reality. 
   RICK NICHOLS:  Well, that was a piece of trash journalism because the man doesn't have a clue what goes on inside the Al Maktoum family.
   He called all the trainers and managers a bunch of organizing men.
   I've got 20 people here from the farm.  I've got people that work on that farm 7 days a week that never ‑‑ you have to run them off to make them take a vacation.  They're down with those mares all night long.  They're up the 6:00 in the morning with a vet getting them bred.  And for him to come off with comments like that and especially Kairan and his team, that I mean they're there every day and, you know, we lose a lot, we lose a lot of horses.  He don't know how it hurts inside when you have to ‑‑ when you lose a horse.
   I mean, the man has no right to write an article that way about a great man at Sheikh Hamdan.  He's the most gentle, most intelligent person that you will ever meet in your life.
   Q    Talk about the family, just talk about Kairan and what he's done in the job he's done, not only in this horse but other horses; and also then a second part, can you tell all the people in the winner's circle were they all Shadwell kind of the whole family, I guess? 
   RICK NICHOLS:  Lot of Shadwell people there.  Lot of people from Uraguay there.
   About Kairan, Kairan is one of the greatest guys I've ever met.  I had the pleasure of knowing him for maybe 20 years now.
   When he was going back and forth to Dubai, bringing a stable here, he's such a great person, and I think a lot of Jazil's and Invasor's popularity in this country is because people like Kairan so much.
   I think he brought them the popularity more than so the actual horses did.
   Because everybody wanted Kairan to do so well.  He's got a great team behind him.  He's got a great family, and he's just an absolutely wonderful person that's made Shadwell or really helped Shadwell to become what she is today.
   ERIC WING:  Anything else for Mr. Nichols?
   Well, Rick, congratulations on an outstanding win today, and best of luck to you and the Shadwell team, and we'll stay here and await Kairan, who I'm sure is on his way in.
   RICK NICHOLS:  Thank you all very much.
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2006, 08:14:02 PM »

   ERIC WING:  Up on stage with us now has to be the very happy, most happy man here at Churchill Downs or one of them, Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Invasor, who has just captured the 5 million‑dollar Breeders' Cup Classic, Powered by Dodge.
   Kairan, congratulations.
   ERIC WING:  I want to ask you about an issue that Rick Nichols raised.  Any chance that missing the Jockey Club is a blessing in disguise for the horse? 
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  There were five million reasons to miss.  We just proved that.  We won today, so it was great that we missed it.
   ERIC WING:  Your rider had to leave us to catch a {plane}, but if you would comment on the job Fernando has done for you today and also all year long{.}.
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  We've had a great year, but today was an exceptional ride from the 11 post to get over and be in the two path around the first turn was unbelievable.  He rode a great race.
   He has no fear and is never nervous and rides very well with those colors on.
   ERIC WING:  Did the race unfold largely as you expected it would, you might have thought Bernardini would be a little closer but did it play out the way you thought?
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  Pretty much.  I would have to watch the rerun again.  I've been a little excited.  I just know how it finished.
   ERIC WING:  If you would, could you comment on Henny Hughes and how he came out of Sprint.
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  He came out of it fine.  The highs and lows in this game are like today what we encountered being the favorite and {continue} being last in the Sprint and winning the Breeders' Cup Classic.
   The highs and lows are extreme in this business, but we try and stay on an even keel.  It was a great win.  If we were going to win one, we won the right one. 
   ERIC WING:  Questions from down here for Kairan.
   Q    Kairan, all week long the last two weeks, actually people referring to Bernardini as possibly one of the greatest horses ever if he won this race.  What was your take on that?  I know you respected him.
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  Yes.  I thought he is a great horse, but there was one better today, and Invasor has only been beaten once, and he's obviously a great horse, too, and hopefully we'll look back and wonder how I got him beat in Dubai because that's the only time we lost.
   Q    I talked to Mark "Cassy" about this.  He said he knew that you and Tommy had what it took to become really good trainers.  In those many years ago, did you ever think you and Tommy would run the Classic here?
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  No.  That was a long time ago.  We're happy we got here and finished first and second.  At that time we were worrying about if we were going to get gas in the car on Friday.
   ERIC WING:  Kairan, was there a specific time during the race when you thought this is going to be our day?
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  It looked like it at the quarter pole he was running and moving very well and looked like things were going very well for us, yes.  That's when I started calling on him.
   Q    Kairan, you had said you thought Invasor was kind of getting overlooked in all talk about Bernardini and Lava Man and ‑‑ you follow sheets that really Invasor was right there with Bernardini.
   Can you kind of reflect on that, and did you feel going in, I think 8‑1?
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  Yes.  I look at the sheets, and he's never reacted or bounced as sheet players referred to.  He ran faster and a better number every race.  He ran a negative, almost a negative 2 last time in the Whitney.
   Bernardini had zero, zero, zero, negative 2, back to a zero.  We were right with him, and yet everybody thought we had no chance.
   So, it was very quiet the last few weeks about two of them meeting, was all about Lava Man, but it didn't really matter that much.  It showed on the racetrack today.
   Q    Can you just reflect on winning this race, what growing up just down the road from where you grew up?
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  It's a very {special} win again for the greatest owners in the business, the Maktoums even though Andy Beyer might think different.  These are the greatest people in the business and they're great to work for.
   It's very nice to have my parents here from Lexington.  I have six brothers and sisters, we're all here.  My wife and two kids were here and all of Shadwell Farm was here.  So we had an awful lot of people.  The photographer will be happy at the end of the day.
   ERIC WING:  More questions for Kairan?
   Q    Kairan, I'm sure that you're an inspiration for a lot of people with MS.  Could you just talk about that and maybe what you hope they can draw from your success today?
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  Well, I feel like I'm very lucky.  I'm one of the lucky ones with MS.  I've had it in my hip pocket.  I'm able to keep going on a regular basis.
   I don't walk as well as I used to, but this is the best medication you could have, winning a 5 million‑dollar race.  But MS has entered my life eight years ago, and I've handled it the best that I can, and I feel sorry for people that aren't doing as well as I am.
   But like I said, I have in it my hip pocket and doing well and going to keep going, and hopefully I help people out there with MS to get up off the couch, as I had to do when I was depressed and down and out.  But I'm lucky I have a great team of people with me and a support group in my wife and kids and family.
   Q    Kairan, Rick Nichols said that if the two of you had gone at each other in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, it's quite possible you would have left the Classic on the table for somebody else.
   Do you feel that these two horses went at it so bravely today that that probably would have been the case?
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  Yes, it probably would have been.  It would have turned into a match race because there were only three other, four other horses.  These two horses look head and shoulders above the rest of the field, and it would have taken a lot out of them to run back in four weeks.
   It was a blessing in disguise for sure.  I've said for the last couple weeks, the horses.  The horse has never been better.  Put weight on.  Trained unbelievable.  Came into this race as well as a horse could come into a race.
   Q    Kairan, can you recall a little bit when you first picked up this horse and some of your first reactions to it, the horse that you have here?
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  They were a long way from thinking I would be sitting here, I can tell you.
   Just a light‑framed horse, looked like a regular horse.  I saw the tapes, they were impressive, his wins in Uraguay, but you didn't know who he was beating.  Once he got and started training, he never made a mistake.  He's always done everything right, very classy.  He has a lot of presence about him, and he did everything right in training.
   It was just a shame that we got beat in Dubai, but he does everything right.
   Q    Kairan, you said jokingly when you talked to the owner in Uraguay that you had this South American horse.  Now you got the American horse of the year.  Do you feel that that is now the case?
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  After the Pimlico Special, I said big bold {print} from Uraguay's Horse of the Year to America's Horse of the Year, kind of half kidding.  But we're there now with for sure.  The Horse of the Year, if not the Horse of the Year, we have the older handicap Horse of the Year.  I would think he should be Horse of the Year.  If Bernardini would have won, he would have been Horse of the Year.
   Q    Kairan, I know you felt like the illness cleared up fast enough that he would be fine making this race.  Was there ever a point where you thought, "Oh, my, we might have to shut down for this year?"
KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  No, I never felt that way.  I was a little concerned about 90 days training into a race, but he literally only {missed} four days of training.  So I wasn't that worried, never thought about shutting down for the year, just would he be right on the day.
   ERIC WING:  Kairan, we have a question from upstairs in the pressbox for you.
   Q    Congratulations.  I just wanted to confirm that Sheikh Rashid's sons were down there with you,  Mohamad's son?
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  Two sons were down there. 
   Q    Kairan, Invasor's obviously justified all the confidence you had in him of late.  What prompted you to take a fourth place in the UAE Derby run?
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  {I remember} to give that credit to Rick Nichols.  I was looking for a Grade 3 100,000 dollar purse, and Rick says, "How are we going to find how good he is?  Let's run in the Grade 1."  We haven't looked backed since. 
   ERIC WING:  Kairan, I believe we have another question from above.
   Q    Kairan, remind us of your parents' names, please.
   KIARAN MCLAUGHLIN:  Raymond and Judy McLaughlin.
   ERIC WING:  Anything else for Kairan?
   Well, Kairan just a terrific training job on a terrific horse, congratulations and all the best.  Thanks for coming by to see us.
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