An Interview With:
ERIC WING: Okay. Before we speak to our winning connections, want to let everybody know the margins in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. The winner Pluck finished first by one length. Second was Soldat by 1 1/2 lengths. And third was Willcox Inn, who was a head in front of the fourth place horse Madman Diaries.
We're joined now by the winning trainer and owner of Pluck. On the left, Todd Pletcher. His fifth Breeders' Cup win lifetime, second of this weekend. Of course, he won with More Than Real yesterday, thereby sweeping the juvenile ‑‑ the two juvenile Breeders' Cup races on Friday and Saturday.
And on our right is Barry Irwin of Team Valor International. For Barry, this is the second Breeders' Cup winner he's been associated with. His Team Valor co‑owned prized, winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf back in 1992.
Congratulations, gentlemen. Todd, Pluck was way back early. The fractions weren't even particularly fast by normal standards. Were you concerned that he was being left with too much to do?
TODD PLETCHER: Well, any time you stumble through your nose leaving the gate and have to avoid a fallen rider, at that point you're way last. I'm kind of thinking, I just hope he makes a run and hits the board, and we salvage something out of it. Obviously, it was very concerning after the first half mile.
ERIC WING: Barry, Pluck, Team Valor not only owns him but bred him as well. He kind of bears a characteristic stamp of Team Valor horses being out of a South African mare. Can you talk about the thinking that went into breeding Pluck and some of the general philosophies you have of using some of those South African males and females?
BARRY IRWIN: I can't remember why I planned the mating, to tell you the truth, but it worked out well. I bought probably 20‑something fillies down there so far. This is one of the few I kept to breed from.
She's huge. She's about 16.2 1/2. She's a Grade 1 performer herself. Got a fabulous pedigree. And this was the first foal, and he just always looked good. So we decided to keep him. Anybody that bred this foal Pluck, we allowed them the chance to be bought out at $180,000, and we offered parts of him to some new people.
In this horse, we have ten newcomers that bought 5 percent each for $9,000 and made four payments. So they had a lot of fun today.
I'll just say this, as a guy that used to be a turf rider, I don't remember ever seeing a race like that, let alone ever being involved in it. It was super.
ERIC WING: Todd, given the adversity that Pluck encountered, which you referred to earlier, does that leave you, I imagine, even more impressed with what he was able to do coming down the lane?
TODD PLETCHER: You know, this colt's shown a lot of natural ability from day one. He's been a little bit of a playful colt that needed to get a little more professional. Even though he was winning races, he was still waiting on horses a little bit. He would sometimes veer in a little bit or veer out. Just, you know, you could tell there was a lot of natural ability, just kind of the light was still going on.
You could see by the way he finished today, this was the first time he really leveled off and set sail through the lane and put it all together.
ERIC WING: Questions either here in the room or upstairs in the press box?
Q. This is for trainer Pletcher. More Than Real yesterday and Pluck today, they both made the tops in Woodbine in Toronto. There must be some significance to the Toronto stop.
In view of your Breeders' Cup options next year, would you really seriously consider making stops in Toronto?
TODD PLETCHER: Yeah, I'm going to try to get a More Than Ready colt and a More Than Ready filly and take them to Woodbine next year.
The one thing that I think was key about this race for these two horses was the spacing was very good. We had extra time. Both horses went up there, ran very well, came out of it in good shape. We shipped them into Churchill. They were well acclimated here. They spent about a month here.
To me, it was more about the timing. We had choices to make, maybe wait another week or two weeks for the Miss Grillo or the two weeks for the races at Keeneland or the Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont. It just seems the timing, the space worked very well. Obviously, Woodbine is a terrific place to run on the turf. We were fortunate it worked out well for both horses.
Q. Barry, if we'd have had a camera on you and a mic beside you during the race, what would we have seen and heard?
BARRY IRWIN: Well, you would have heard a lot of words that started with the letter F, as an example. At the 1/2 mile pole, my main thought was, geez, I hope this horse isn't hurt because every time we get a horse that stumbles at the start, something happens.
We had Todd train another horse for us called Fantastico Roberto. And he ran a Grade 1 a month ago. He veered left at the start, stumbled, and pulled a bunch of ligaments out, and he might never run again. So I was really worried.
When I saw him making the move, my thought was, nah, you're just dreaming. This isn't going to happen.
I'll tell you one other thing. We ran two fillies today, two 3‑year‑old fillies from South Africa running in preps for their Guineas down there, and they both won today. It's been a big day. 3 for 3.
Q. Tom, I know you supported More Than Ready, and you have always thought highly of him as a sire. This is a pretty significant feat, though, to win both juvenile races. Can you tell us what your feelings are about him as a sire.
TODD PLETCHER: Well, he will always be one of my favorite horses. You know, I mean, he was one of, if not the first, really good horse that I trained. You know, he's such a talented horse, with such a great disposition. To see him go on and do well as a sire, not only here, but in Australia, he's a real phenomenon.
This colt physically is almost a clone of More Than Ready himself. He's almost black in color, a very similar head. Just, you know, if you looked at pictures of the two as 2‑year‑olds, the similarities are amazing. So it's a very special case for me to train two offspring to win Breeders' Cup races from him.
BARRY IRWIN: They had a TV thing yesterday, and you were holding More Than Ready ‑‑ or, actually, it looked like your son because you're not ‑‑ he looked just like him except for the star.
TODD PLETCHER: It's amazing.
ERIC WING: Apparently, the only F words needed for Pluck today are fast and first. Pluck, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Todd Pletcher and Barry Irwin, congratulations.
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