Interview With: BOB BAFFERT, PAUL WEITMAN, KARL WATSON, MIKE PEGRAM
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the interview room by the winning connections of Secret Circle. Secret Circle incidentally tied for the second lowest payoff by a Breeders' Cup winner. Secret Circle went off at 2-5. Paid $2.80. The record was Meadow Star who paid $2.40. And left to right, winning trainer Bob Baffert. Breeders' Cup win number eight for Bob. Next to Bob is Paul Weitman. And next to Paul is Karl Watson. And on the far right, Mike Pegram. Certainly not there, first Breeders' Cup winner either, Mike with Midnight Lute, and the three gentlemen with the two -- excuse me, Silverbulletday. And the three of them shared the fun with Midnight Lute, who won the Breeders' Cup Sprint twice. Congratulations to all of you. Bob, obviously, we don't have Rafael Bejarano with us because he's riding in the next race. What did he tell you about that last furlong where it started to get maybe a little more exciting than people expected?
BOB BAFFERT: He was -- he said the 4 horse was pushing and chirping the full way. He was trying to keep him off of him. But the horse is actually, as quick as he went, he was actually traveling nice. He looked like he wasn't going that fast. I saw the fractions.
When he got out to lead by himself, he was drifting all over on him, looking for company. He's still a young horse. He's green, but he's just extremely gifted and talented. I think it's a kind of horse that I'm going to -- eventually we're going to try to stretch him out. I think that -- we've always thought, he has that raw speed, but I think having Drill come along at the same time, we figured we'll let him catch up.
Of the two, it's just like you've got your ace and you've got your closer. Hopefully down the road things will change, but it just is really exciting to be able to win a Breeders' Cup race because they're so hard to win, especially when you have a heavy favorite. Like last time we had Lookin At Lucky. We had the worst luck in the world. I'm happy for my team here. They have a good time, and they get a lot of luck. They really enjoy the sport. I'm happy for them and the horse.
Also, Martin Garcia plays a huge part in getting all these horses ready, my jockey. Unfortunately, he didn't get to mount because Rafael just happened to pick up the mount. I don't know what happened there.
He's the kind of horse that we never -- he never shows you that in the mornings. When he won the first time out, I was like blown away by what he did, and I was blown away what he did the second time. He's one of these horses that just shows you so much more in the afternoons.
THE MODERATOR: And I want to remind folks in the press box they can ask a question directly.
Gentlemen, you own the winner of the first ever Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint. Congratulations. Bob said, Mike, think about stretching out next year. Did you get nervous down the lane? What was going through your mind when it looked like there was a shot that Shumoos was coming hard and might make it close?
MIKE PEGRAM: He gave us a little thrill, but on the other hand, he was well in hand, and the horse just ran good. I can remember calling Bob when they made the announcement they were going to have this race, and I said, man, I hope you bought one of these for us. That will be named the Bob Baffert Sprint, as good as he's always been with the 2-year-olds. So it was a good day.
THE MODERATOR: Karl, as we noted earlier, you've had several moments of Breeders' Cup success. While $165,000 certainly isn't chump change to spend on a young horse, it's certainly not the vast sums that you see some spend on other horses. Can you comment on Bob and his eye for a horse that doesn't necessarily catch everybody's eye?
KARL WATSON: Bob has got us so spoiled. We are so blessed the amount of horses we've had and the amount of money we put in the game to have the success we've had. It's unbelievable. He's set the bar pretty high. It may get tough on him one of these days.
PAUL WEITMAN: It's the same thing here. We just let him go, and he calls and says, hey, I bought you a horse. We give him some freedom, and he just time after time, year after year, just does a great job for us. He's the best at it, I think.
THE MODERATOR: We'll throw it open to questions.
Q. This question is for trainer Bob Baffert. Did you get the impression he was beginning to tire at the end? Given the fact he seems too brilliant. He gets out of the gate so quick. He obeys every command Bejarano gives him. Stretching him out, what strategy do you employ in the coming months?
BOB BAFFERT: Well, he's the kind of horse that, I remember when we were getting him ready, he's worked off of horse, behind horse, but when you start stretching horses out, he'll go as fast as the pace is.
So if the pace would have been -- first quarter would have gone 22 or 23, he would have been in 23. He's not speed crazy. He can sit off a horse. But if a horse is out there flying, he's going to be right there with them.
Q. I just want to ask you. Congratulations, first of all. What about the Classic? I forgot to ask the question. Can you just talk about -- Amber Grace is getting so much credit. But if Chantal could win it, it would be significant.
BOB BAFFERT: It would be significant for all the parties involved. Chantal, I don't think of her -- I think of her as a very good jockey. I don't think of the female part of it at all. She's a fierce competitor. If I didn't think she was a good rider, I wouldn't have her on the horse. It's not a publicity stunt or anything. She fits the horse really well. She gets a lot of run out of the horse.
I had Martin. I tried different jockeys. She seems to win on the horse. Once you find a good fit, you stick with it.
Q. How did you come to buy this horse? What did you like about him when you saw him at the sale?
BOB BAFFERT: You know what, I have a lot of help with Donato Lanni. He goes in there, and we look at everything, and we go through the list and chop the list up. Then we start shooting from the hip, from the back. So you got to cover all your bases. We try to see every horse we can, but you can't see them all.
You narrow it down to -- there's a top tier, middle tier. Then you're looking for horses just that have that athletic look to them.
Sometimes I've caught myself being sort of a sire snob, and I've missed some really good horses. So Jill, my wife, always reminds me -- every time I say, you know what, I was going to buy that horse, but he's by so and so, the sire. And I keep forgetting, Mike and I, we've made a lot of sires, and they all have won. The only thing about it, it doesn't matter how bad a luck they're going in.
At the time, he's been pretty cool, but he still brought a lot of money. I thought we were going to get him for like $50,000. They had a $49,000 reserve on him. I really thought he was going to cost $50,000. He just kept going and he got up to $155,000. And Donato said, that's a lot of money. I said, yeah, that's a lot of money for a horse that can't run. It went all afternoon. We can't stop going. We've got to buy him. We'll find a buyer.
So that's what I do. I buy a horse, make the call, call the boys. Actually, I just texted him. These guys just bought one. And they just always go like great. More bullets. That's Karl. He always sends back, more bullets.
So it's fun when you have a free rein like that. When you go in scared of money, it's tough. When I first started out, I was scared and nervous. As a matter of fact, when these two were together, I'd go in there, had a little budget and stuff, it was tough. I was afraid to make a mistake. You're going to make mistakes. Believe me, I bought plenty for them that you never heard of. They were so slow they didn't get names.
But it's one of those things where they got hurt or something. It's just you need a lot of luck. You buy the horse. You buy what you like. And then they're great to train for because they don't get involved. They just want, hey -- they get excited. They get involved like what's our next step? I think I might go here, and then Mike will tell me, he doesn't know where he's going, which is true.
But it's like I really don't know what I'm going to do until like -- Mike's always told me. His dad used to tell him, don't make a decision until you have to, and you have to do that in this business because you never know what might happen.
Q. Bob, could you elaborate on stretching Secret Circle out and what races you might be thinking about.
BOB BAFFERT: There it goes right there. I don't know. We were actually thinking of maybe running this horse, skipping this race and running in the Delta Downs Jackpot. We discussed that. And Mike made the call to me. I thought, you know what, he's just doing so well right now. Let's -- here the Breeders' Cup is there. There's nothing more exciting than to win a Breeders' Cup race. It's a thrilling experience, and they're hard to win.
So I said, let's get by this one. We know he's fast. Let's find out. Down the road, we'll give him his chance. But I really don't know where I'll stretch him out.
Q. Will he run again this year or are you done? Are you going to turn him out for a while?
BOB BAFFERT: I don't know. If he -- if we were to run again, there's always the race at Hollywood Park, the Cash Call and stuff. I don't know. Right now we're just going to enjoy the moment and enjoy the horse. I've got so many other horses I have to worry about today. I've got a lot on my plate.
I'm just glad, after the first horse got scratched, sat down at the gate. I was like I hope this is not the way my weekend's going to start. The only positive thing about that whole situation in the first race was that I was still -- I wasn't 0 for 1 yet. I was just starting over.
I just hope it just keeps up. The thing about it is these horses -- I was a little bit nervous because this horse just ran off the plane. I took a gamble, got him ready at Santa Anita. Without Martin Garcia, he's the one that gets these horses ready, and he does a fantastic job.
Q. How well equipped is this horse from a breeding standpoint to be stretched out? From a breeding standpoint, how well equipped is this horse to go the Kentucky Derby distance?
BOB BAFFERT: The pedigree is there. He's by Eddington, who won at Belmont and could run all day, unbridled. And the mother is Dixieland Band, pedigree. He's a fast horse. He looks like a fast horse.
You don't know. You really don't know until you try him a few turns. Until he goes two turns, you really don't know. You hope. But he can't do it going 20.4, but we'll slow him down.
Q. Any specific attributes you liked about him?
BOB BAFFERT: I can't tell you that information, Steve.
Q. Yes, you can. Sure, you can.
BOB BAFFERT: It's something that costs millions and millions of dollars gone through the ring to find out those secrets.
Q. Can I make it up then?
BOB BAFFERT: Just make it up. It wasn't pedigree.
THE MODERATOR: We'll let Steve get started on his story. In the meantime, we'll once again say congratulations to Bob Baffert, Paul Weitman, Karl Watson, and Mike Pegram, the first ever winner of the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint with Secret Circle. Congratulations.
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