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Author Topic: Breeders' Cup Classic transcript  (Read 1293 times)
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« on: October 27, 2007, 07:20:17 PM »



ERIC WING:  We are back live in the interview tent.  We are joined by the happy connections of Curlin who has just captured the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic ‑ Powered By Dodge.  From left‑to‑right at the podium is Satish Sanan of Padua Stables, trainer Steve Asmussen, Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stables, and George Bolton.  Steve, I'll ask you the first question and I'll just ask a very simple question.  Is this horse cut from different cloth?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  Very much so.  To accomplish what he's accomplished in the length of time that he has to get to this level, he's different in many ways.
   ERIC WING:  I ran into your father this morning and I asked him if Curlin would like the conditions today and he said, that's what we're trying to figure out.  What did you think?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  That was a huge concern.  He trained at an off‑track at the most, a gallop.  The horse came in in great condition and he showed up.  He ran when it mattered most.
   First time watching him, he carried Robby well and he came home like he was supposed to.  The horse in the paddock, he's a big day horse, settled, calm and waiting for what was going to happen.
   ERIC WING:  As they turned for home, three horses essentially separated themselves from the rest of the track.  Hard Spun, Street Sense, Curlin, the three horses who gave us so many thrills during the course of the year, win, lose or draw no matter where they finished.  Did a part of you think, no matter what happens, this is the way it was supposed to be?  Satish, I'll give it to you.
   SATISH SANAN:  When you look at the Derby, then you look at the Preakness and Belmont, I know they are all the three horses, Street Sense wasn't there but no question about it, I think you put these horses in a match race, it would be the same outcome again.
   ERIC WING:  Now joining us is Robby Albarado, the rider of Curlin.  Robby, congratulations, Breeders' Cup No. 1, win No. 1 in your career.  Just take us through the trip if you would.
   ROBBY ALBARADO:  I tell you what, Steve had a lot to do with this today, this victory because not only did he prepare him properly and at his best; he instilled a lot of confidence in me coming into the day and he helped me ride him with a lot of confidence.  He told me to be patient and when you call on him, he'll be there for you.
   He said, "Ride your own horse, don't ride anybody else's race."  He prevailed.  He showed he's a true champion and he's an amazing horse.
   ERIC WING:  Jess Jackson, we are just minutes after victory to end all victories, and you have a lot of partners, so I don't mean to jump ahead of things, but Curlin has been so exciting, so impressive at age three; what does next year hold for him?
   JESS JACKSON:  Get together and decide.  I'm on cloud nine so I'm not sure I'll be rational here.
   This has been a team effort from the beginning led by Steve and John Moynihan and we are all seriously dedicated to the health of the horse, so the horse will tell us what we'll do in the future.  With Robby on board and Steve training, I'm sure that we can prove that he's one of the best in the last century or half century.  We always believed in this horse and never doubted it.  He got blocked on the Derby, if you take a look at the Derby, he got blocked in at the Belmont.  He got beat by damned good horses.  This is one of the best generations I've ever seen, and I've been watching racing since 1939.  This generation of horses and the competition and quality of Hard Spun, any given Saturday, Street Sense, Lawyer Ron and on and on, Awesome Gem, those horses are exceptional.
   So he's a champion of champions.  They are all good.  They are all exceptional.  I'm not sure what we'll do but I'm sure Robby would want to ride him if we decide to.
   ERIC WING:  And I know Steve will train him, I have no doubt which way his vote is leading at this point.  It's a fact that in thoroughbred racing, it's a financial disincentive to continue racing your horse at age four and beyond given what's out there in the breeding shed.  However, according to Forbes Magazine, you're one of the 400 most wealthy men in America.
   JESS JACKSON:  Don't believe it.
   ERIC WING:  Mr. Bolton and Mr. Sanan are not hurting.  Given the special nature of what you have, is there a sense inside to say, screw the economics, we want to see this horse run some more?
   JESS JACKSON:  There's an inner quarrel with me.  Inside cerebrally, I'm saying, here is a horse that can help change the direction of breeding in America, maybe the world.  For stamina, size, coupled with the speed he has and the power, and he's learning to be more graceful on the turns; he is an exceptional horse.  So on the one part I'm saying, as a breeder, I'd love to have the American breed grade upward with distance, durability, power and speed that Curlin represents.
   On the other hand, I'm a racing fan.  I've always been a handicapper.  I love to see the tried and true come back and back and back.  For one thing, I hope, my vote will be we'll never geld him.  And so he won't be an Oh, Henry or some other greats of that era.
   But at the same time, I'd love to see him race again.  We'll see what happens.  It is a financial game.  But there's a lot of heart in it by the people you're looking at up here.
   ERIC WING:  Playing off of what Jess just said, do you think Curlin has gotten better as the year has gone on?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  He's a better horse now.  When you look back at it from today and the horse that he is in the jockey club and today, the classics, basically, a two‑year‑old season, he was given a break and came back sure what he was, more mature, confident.  He proved that today.
   Curlin himself is a very special horse and it's very much about him.  And he's who put all of us here today.
   ERIC WING:  Robby, I want to ask you, as the race unfolded, it just so happened that as Hard Spun and Lawyer Ron were out front, you were not exactly but almost side‑by‑side with Street Sense.  Did you realize Street Sense was next to you?  And if so, what was going through your mind at that time, and also, after the race, it was seen on TV that Calvin Borel came alongside you and congratulated you.  What did Calvin say post‑race?
   ROBBY ALBARADO:  Yeah, there's always a lot of hype with me and Calvin coming up to these races.  It's like a grudge match.  The whole race I knew where Calvin was and I knew what was happening in front of me.
   But like Steve told me in the paddock, just ride your own race and don't ride anybody else's race.  I moved him a bit early in the Haskell and compromised his finish somewhat, so today I was going to be as patient and possible and today I did, I made a huge move and Street Sense could not really match strides from the 3/8ths pole and I knew I was going to be in pretty good shape there.  And when I made the lead turn, he accelerated and he's just an amazing animal.  I'm just fortunate I get the opportunity to ride such an amazing horse.
   Afterward he congratulated me and told me how good he looked and how good he ran.  He has always had the talent within him but like Mr. Jackson said, he's starting to come together and show the turns well and he's an unbelievable horse.
   ERIC WING:  When the meeting takes place to decide what Curlin is doing next year, is it going to be a very dignified, calm meeting or will there be some shouting going on?
   GEORGE BOLTON:  I would think the whole year has had such great spirit and I want to just touch on the fact that the owners of Hard Spun, Street Sense, Lawyer Ron, obviously Any Given Saturday, we're all friends and we've been kind of rooting for each other.  The commentary is if you don't win, I hope you win and it's been a very high spirit that way.  With our group we'll always have issues where if we get a huge offer on this horse, maybe one of the partners will want to sell the whole horse out right.
   But we will all look at it as horse men and business people.  The key now is to let a month go by and let everybody enjoy the victory and we'll look at next year with an open mind.  I think the one thing that's a little different about this horse is that a bunch of these Smart Strike get better as they get older and they don't have their best year in the spring of their three‑year‑old year.  Breeding wise it's a very, very open issue to go next year.

   Q.  You got beat at the Haskell, the only time you raced at Monmouth but you chose to win the right race on the right day, congratulations.  I wanted to ask you, Robby Albarado was not riding a horse, he was riding a duck on Tuesday morning and we knew Friday and Saturday there was going to be a lot of rain and the track would come up sloppy.  In terms of equipment or in terms of preparation, did you do anything different to prepare for a race like this on a track like this?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  No.  He's just prepared to run well.  I mean, everything had culminated for today.  It's his second race here at Monmouth as you mentioned, his first one not being his best.  His first race at Arkansas wasn't his best and his first race at Belmont wasn't his race.  He has a sense of calm about knowing where he's at the second time you come somewhere.  The only time he ever trained at the same racetrack that he ran at was Churchill Downs for the Derby and that being his only race.
   I think that the pattern has held true.  Everybody decided what we were going to do from a long ways out, and stuck to it and the horse was good enough.  I think he put us here simply on his ability.

   Q.  When did you first come down here for this race?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  He worked Monday at Keenland and flew in here on Tuesday.

   Q.  Did you have any sense that he was feeling comfortable this time, as opposed to ‑‑
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  I think the horse has spoiled us with his consistency.  He's an amazing animal.  Off of his maiden race, he won a great three.  You're looking to compare him with something else and there's just not another horse to compare him with.  I think that he ran extremely well in all of the Classics, had a little break off of that race; he had time off.
   After the Haskell, he continued to train.  I think that was the big difference.  The timing, when you read it on paper, is one thing.  But after the Belmont, he was given some time, walked the shed, jogged a while, freshened up a little bit and came back again.  But after the Haskell, he continued to train, and with this in mind, I think he was at his best when he needed to be and that was today.

   Q.  So when you were telling us that the race in Monmouth was lethargic, he wasn't himself, in the back of your mind, was it, "I hope this second time around thing what's been happening to him at Belmont will happen here"?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  He's a better horse for the experience, extremely intelligent.  He uses his experience in a positive way.  Robby, you know, being very familiar with him; I think that we've been able to train him the way that we wanted to.  After the jockey club took him to Keenland, trained him there on the synthetic surface which is the same thing he did between the two Arkansas races; felt very good about where he was physically and got off the plane and knows what he's here for and goes about his business and went about it at a very high level.

   Q.  Sounds like a rainy day at Monmouth, a sloppy track was your worst nightmare, was I reading you right?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  It was definitely my biggest concern.  Curlin is an amazing animal and you're just not looking for more variables.  We're not looking for excuses and I wanted a chance to show who we are.  With all of the rain setting in and the slick conditions, just not something that we had been able to ‑‑ he had never encountered that.  He obviously went for it well.
   ERIC WING:  Satish, Steve does not own any part of Curlin but is his coach, so when you and your partners do sit down and decide what to do next, will you factor in Steve's input at all?
   SATISH SANAN:  I think all along, the partnership has agreed and met and agreed on everything we do but when it comes down to racing, I speak for everybody else; Steve has made all of the decisions regarding training and which race we go to and I think he's done a phenomenal job.  There's no question about it.  So, we'll let Steve decide what's going to happen.

   Q.  What does it feel like to have a Horse of the Year in the barn?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  It's an amazing feeling.  Growing up in racing, it's extremely emotional to have witnessed great horses run in time and to be this close to one and to be this part of a horse of this ability is a lifelong dream.
   ERIC WING:  I'll ask the same question of Jess:  How does this type of achievement in the sporting world compare with building an incredibly successful business that few could dream of?
   JESS JACKSON:  This business is a lot more risky.  (Laughter).
   The factors in racing are an unknown.  The combinations and permutations of possibilities have to be anticipated.  That's why Steve has done such a good job.
   As the horse evolved, we had to learn, and I don't think we know his full potential yet.  I've said that before when we've won.
   I don't know we know whether his full potential has been achieved yet.  He's a horse that has a dimension that continues to grow and surprise people.  This may not be a track record today, but in a sloppy conditions on this track with tight turns with this horse, that's a heck of an achievement if he did it.
   And he was, what, eight, ten lengths behind at the beginning, and you just saw him picking up on the backstretch.  As long as he keeps out of trouble and gets his natural stride, you just see that he has that extra three or four inches every bound.  And that's what wins the races for him; he just has that super will to fight, compete, reach, and the power to run on true barrier.  I don't know what would happen if we sat him down and just tried to break a speed record right from the beginning to the end of the race.  Of course, he's been competing and it's much wiser to do what we did and Steve did it.  We had to run the horse within himself to beat the competition in that race.  Within himself is the key.  He always had something left except when he was dehydrated, for instance, in the Haskell and didn't have enough energy at the end of the race.
   But I've always been impressed with his ability to improve.  And I think Steve and Scotty, the team, have brought him along perfectly at every race with somebody else exceptionally capable pointing at him all the time.  So he's been the horse to beat.  It may not have been obvious in the press.  But Curlin was the one they were watching.
   ERIC WING:  Forget about 2008, but like for the next couple of weeks, the rest of 2007, what's next for Curlin?  Where does he go from here and where does he rest?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  He's going to fly back to Keenland tomorrow and we'll gather up there.  Everybody will go and ask how he's doing and we'll look in on him and make sure he's happy and healthy and we'll go from there.

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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2007, 07:20:44 PM »

   Q.  In 20 words or less, for each race, can you sort of give me a capsule of his races in the Triple Crown series?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  Starting with the Derby?  The Derby, he ended up third in his fourth race.  Before the race started, he was the horse.  Thought we were leading the right horse over that day.  It didn't happen for him.  He rebounded, showed who he was in the Preakness and took a very tough defeat in the Belmont.
   At that stage, we loved where we were at physically with him and his ability, and just gave him a little break so that he could add who he was and picked out a couple spots to get here.

   Q.  The Belmont, of course, was disappointing.  But was it surprising, too?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  You know, races are decided on the track.  It just like right now.  There's not a lot anybody ‑‑ it's the way it ought to be settled.  I think that's the great thing about everybody making it to this race this year.  I just very much feel comfortable letting them decide it on the racetrack and if you want to win, get to the wire first.

   Q.  Robby, could you just talk us through your stretch run?
   ROBBY ALBARADO:  Entering the final turn there, he was kind of picking off horses pretty easy within himself.  And Street Sense was alongside of me at the same pace.
   Then he sort of dropped Street Sense off at one point, and Hard Spun was in front of me.  Looked like he struggled a little bit and I could loop him really quick and when he did, Curlin found this extra, I knew it was there and he knows it's there and he just found that extra burst that we needed to just push away and draw away from them.  The first thought ran through my mind at the 5/16ths pole was the Arkansas Derby because that's how he felt, that acceleration and he could go on and beat them pretty easy.  He came back, wasn't stressed and was as calm as possible, like the normal Curlin every day.

   Q.  You had ridden Mineshaft a few years ago; can you comment on how satisfying it is and to settle it in there?
   ROBBY ALBARADO:  They are two totally different horses the way they did things.  But I can see Curlin as he's getting more mature, he has the likes of a Mineshaft and all.  One thing I can't compare him about, I have ridden him about the same amount of confidence, that he can win just about every time.
   He had a great guy coaching him in Neil Howard, and I feel the same way about Steve with Curlin.  Great horsemen and a good team.

   Q.  Can you just articulate about winning your first Breeders' Cup race and to win the big one?
   ROBBY ALBARADO:  It was an amazing thing, it was surreal, couldn't believe it.  But when you start thinking back, it's like Steve said, it's what it's all about.  Steve publically said he was pulling for this race here, whatever it takes, he did it and did all of the right things and made all the right moves and Curlin is progressing for something amazing.
   And my vote is to run next year.  (Laughter).

   Q.  This question is for Robby:  On a day like today where the track is extremely muddy, when do you get a sense that your horse will be able to handle the track, the first 100 yards, eighth of a mile?  When do you get the feel that you can do well in the race?
   ROBBY ALBARADO:  His exercise rider today, Carlos, he ponied him and I asked him how he's been doing this week in the mud, and he said he seemed to love the mud, all day, his attitude was just great.  That again gave me some confidence.  He knows the horse better than I do.  He gets on him every day.  And he instilled a lot of confidence in me knowing that.
   Watching races all day long, me and Steve talked in the paddock, let him gather himself, he'll come running and he'll be there for you, and he was.
   ERIC WING:  Robby, I'm going to ask you a question:  Playing off something generally said, there has to be a large amount of pride in being associated with a Horse of the Year, but is it so much better when you achieve that status in the final, so to speak?
   ROBBY ALBARADO:  There's so much hype leading up to this.  I mean, all the press, and I have the best horse and you have the best horse and we have the best horse.  Like Steve said, it's all decided when you cut to that wire first.  So that's so gratifying to know that I rode the best horse this year.
   ERIC WING:  Which takes me to another question for Steve, which you may not be able to answer.  What is it about this group of three‑year‑olds this year that took us not just through the tremendously exciting Triple Crown, but on to the Haskell and the Travers' and here to the Breeders' Cup Classic.  We talked about Curlin being from different cloth.  Was this whole generation really a different set than what we've become accustomed to of late?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  The three horses I think of as Hard Spun, Curlin and Street Sense, of course, and watching them all year, you're not really surprised.  They never looked weak.  They looked sound, they looked strong and they looked fast.  Every time you saw them, you expected them to show up.
   I think these three horses are better.  That's what makes the difference.  They are better than the rest.  That's what separates Curlin from the other horses that I have.  He does things that they can't do, and he does them easier and he comes back better from them.  Just run other horses in the Derby, you know, they can't quit blowing water after the tub, after they run, and he came back off the test run; what's next?  Robby mentioned it today, after he does that run, takes that breath, comes back and he's ready for it.  They and the others, they are better.
   I can't go any further without commenting on Scott Blasi and Carmen Rosas, the job they have done with him since he walked in the barn in early February.  Carlos has been on him every day that he's went to the track for us almost.  Mike got on him at Arkansas for a bit.  But the pressure of working that much horse with that much ability to the minute like he has all year long, can't go uncommended.
   You could easily blow it with something that you're looking for basically to split hairs with him all the time in the morning and keep it to the minute.  Robby mentioned putting post parade on the horse and how he would handle everything.  I think Curlin brought all of us, me, Robby and the whole team here and it is his ability that separates him.
   ERIC WING:  Steve, in discussing your own team, could you, in turn, comment on the horsemanship skills of Carl and Larry?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  I think they speak for themselves, and they keep the horses at that level all year and the condition they look in and the races that they have run.  I think that when they walk out of the paddock, the horses run for us and that's where it takes over.  I think Curlin is the Horse of the Year and deserved Horse of the Year and the best Horse of the Year.  It's been a very good year at that.

   Q.  What do you think Curlin, Street Sense and Hard Spun have meant to horse racing and to fans old and new?  Do you think these horses have brought new fans to the game?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  One thing I feel is the consistency of him, and the fact that they don't let you down.  Curlin has been beat, but you were impressed with his effort.  He shows up.  I think the other horses, as well.
   I think they deserve this respect.  And if you are a fan of the sport, then you are a fan of these three horses.  If you're not impressed with what they have done all year long, then you are not going to be impressed by any race horse.

   Q.  Would you reflect on the fact that English Channel, by Smart Strike, won the Turf, and Curlin, by Smart Strike, won the Classic?  Now are you going after Smart Strike's skin now?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  I do love that he won the race walking over and he was a winner, very similar to the Turf classic and the jockey club walking over, he had won the race previous, so I definitely felt good about that.
   If Smart Strike is the reason Curlin is who he is, I'm on that, I'm liking it as well.

   Q.  Sorry to bring this up, but there was a bad thing on the track behind your beautiful horse, could you just ‑‑ Robby, could you talk about, did you pass him and one of you talk about if it's a downer to have that happen today?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  You know what, I apologize.  It was brought to my attention after the fact when I noticed where the horse ambulance was going.
   During the race, I was simply focused on Curlin.  I am not even sure where in the race it happened.
   ROBBY ALBARADO:  Same as me.  I have no idea what happened.  It was same, someone told me after the race, also.

   Q.  But is it just a sad circumstance in this industry that that might happen on such a happy day?
   STEVEN ASMUSSEN:  I think that you watch the Olympics, and when you're at the extreme, extreme things happen.  At this level, they are going for all they can, and then a little bit more.  It is an athletic event.  The physics to make it possible.
   JESS JACKSON:  These athletes are at the top of their form.  They are the fastest of their skill set and their breed.  They are all‑out, all the time.
   When you ask them, they deliver.  That's why I made the point about breeding earlier, I think that we have to breed more stamina and durability and distance in our horses and I think Curlin represents that.  I hope that we can change the thoroughbred industry for the better because I've seen over the last 50 years, horses become more fragile.  I think with Polytrack now and breeding, we can improve the breeding and bring them back to the days of the Seabiscuits and all of the great Northern Dancers, etc., of the world, that kept running and running, every three weeks, and perform for us without breakdowns.
   I think the injury is sad, but I think it's something that we can overcome with good breeding, and I hope we do as an industry.
   ERIC WING:  We'd like to wish you all the heartiest congratulations on a terrific performance.
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