Interview With: JUAN C. LEYVA, WILLIAM KAPLAN, ADAM LAZARUS
THE MODERATOR: We are back live in the interview room. We'll be back in a few minutes with the winning trainer and owners of Musical Romance. But we are privileged now to be joined by jockey Juan Leyva, who piloted one Musical Romance to victory. We also have now, ascending the platform, Adam Lazarus of Pinnacle Racing. Gentlemen, congratulations. Trainer and co-owner Bill Kaplan. We'll let everybody get seated.
The order of finish for the first five, we don't yet have margins. Musical Romance first, Switch was second. Third was Her Smile. Fourth was Number 12 Pomeroys Pistol. Fifth was Turbulent Descent.
Now we've got everybody here. On my left, Juan Leyva. In the middle, trainer and co-owner, Bill Kaplan. On the far right, Adam Lazarus of Pinnacle Racing.
Congratulations to all of you.
Juan, pretty good career record in the Breeders' Cup now, 1 for 1. Take us through the journey.
JUAN LEYVA: She broke pretty sharp. I was trying to get her to relax a bit. Once Golden Mystery got in front of me, I was able to get her off a little bit, off the bridle. Around the turn, I was pretty confident. I hadn't asked her to run yet. I saw on the outside, Pomeroys Pistol and Turbulent Descent started moving. So I waited a little longer for Tamarind Hall to die off and let me through there. Once I saw the seam, I went through there, and my filly fired.
THE MODERATOR: Just quickly give the margins. We have Musical Romance first by 1 1/4 length. Switch was second by a head. The third place finisher, Her Smile, was third by 2 1/2 lengths.
Bill Kaplan, congratulations. I can't say you're a perfect 1 for 1. You had two previous Breeders' Cup starters back in 1994 and 1995 but none since. What was so special about Musical Romance to bring you back?
WILLIAM KAPLAN: She's been improving since day one really. This last year we moved her to Sprint, and she was just impressive in every race. If you look back on her record and look at her films of the last eight races coming into this race, she was very impressive in every one of them. She split horses. She came through the rail. She always was right there.
And she had a lot of confidence in her rider. Juan was able to get nine great trips in a row. That's very hard to do at this level.
THE MODERATOR: Speaking of Juan -- and I'll address this to both Bill and to Adam. Juan is not -- as evidenced by the fact this was his first Breeders' Cup mount, not a name often associated with Grade 1 stakes winners. I'm sure, when you have a horse the quality of Musical Romance, your cell phone is called repeatedly by jockeys' agents. But as Bill just said, Juan's delivered every time for you, and you've stuck by him. Can you comment on your loyalty and also a comment about Juan's skills as a rider? Adam?
ADAM LAZARUS: One of the things you talk about as an owner, sometimes even myself can make mistakes, and you get too meddlesome in what is going on in day-to-day activities at the barn.
When you have a horse that has talent and you don't think you're getting out of it, sometimes as an owner you rush to make judgments. And I rushed to make judgments in terms of finding another jockey early on this year, and I took for granted the relationship between the trainer, the jockey, all that goes on in the morning, and I got involved, and I made a mistake.
You just made a mention this is Juan's first Breeders' Cup race, but if you take a look at, quote, what's going on at Calder, all the big horses -- I shouldn't say all, but a good chunk of them are going Juan's way. There's nobody out there that gets up in the morning as early as he does and is willing to put in the extra hours and time and the relationships that he has with the trainers, and even me as an owner. He is brutally honest with me, and I'm happy any time he gets on a horse for us because the one thing that I've learned over the course of the year is you've got to have relationships and you've got to have trust. If you don't have either one, you're going to struggle in this game.
THE MODERATOR: Well, perhaps a good chance a few more horses at Calder now continue to come your way.
Bill and Adam, one thing that kind of jumps off the page when you look at 20/20 hindsight, this horse only cost you $22,000. Can you tell us about the day when you purchased her and what it was that caught your eye that perhaps eluded some others?
WILLIAM KAPLAN: Well, when I select horses at the sale, I work 95 percent off their breeze when I buy 2-year-olds, and I only buy 2-year-olds. Her athletic performance during the breeze zeroed us in on her, and we just went for it. We got it for a very reasonable price I thought, obviously. That was the main thing I go by. She proved to be worth it. She was the athlete we were look for.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it to questions.
Juan, you made kind of a deft move to make it to the 3/16 pole, shifting to the inside. Is that just where the daylight was for you, or were you kind of hoping to get to the rail, which seems to be maybe a slightly better pathway today?
JUAN LEYVA: You know, it just happened that's where the daylight came. Like I said earlier, I was just waiting for that horse to kind of slow down and give me the room I needed to shoot through there. Like I said, I still hadn't really asked her. I knew, if I could get a little bit of daylight, I'd get through.
Q. The trust that you talked about, is that what brought you here? And is it great to see that trust rewarded with a huge win?
ADAM LAZARUS: Going into this race, when I looked at the PPs and everything like that and you looked at all the horses and I looked at the odds board and the investment we'd made, if we didn't make the investment and I was a handicapper today, I just want to ask all you guys out -- you guys are here on an everyday basis. Wouldn't Sassy Image be like the first or second choice in this race even with Turbulent Descent? We lost by this much to her.
I heard about the Zenyatta trip and all of that. I'm not taking anything away. Sassy Image is a superstar, but we lost by that much. To beat the odds today, believe me, my pocket is thankful, but at the end of the day, we had no way to beat that price.
First of all, beyond the talent that Bill just talked about, have you ever seen a horse with this much guts? You can't see that at a sale. This is called stone cold luck, and we just found it. The filly is special for talent, but she's got a heart that's unbelievable. That's how we're here.
Q. Bill, she's an iron horse at a time horses don't run very much. What about her allows you to start her 13 times a season for the last couple of years?
WILLIAM KAPLAN: Well, to be real honest with you, I'm going to tell you something. We bought her at a sale. Second day galloping on the training track, she cracked her pastern, took a couple screws, and we brought her back. Ever since then, she hasn't had problem one. The more I race her, the happier she gets.
She's really, really remarkable. I think she's improving with every start that she gets. She is an iron horse. She's not only an iron horse, she's got something else. She's won on turf, synthetic, short, long, mud -- every possibility this filly has won on. And she's run against great company. I think this is the best I've seen around this year, on Sprint for sure.
Q. My question is was the Breeders' Cup your long-term objective? Because you put her on the turf at Calder end of August and then went to Presque Isle Downs and went to Keeneland, and then you had the switch. Then your confidence level must have gone up. Was that the reason you decided to go for the Breeders' Cup?
WILLIAM KAPLAN: The race on the turf at Calder was really thinking ahead for Presque Isle. We wanted to get her on the grass and closing real strong and going fast fractions because that's what she'd have to do. Calder is a slow racetrack. We got to Presque Isle, and she won the race, and she won it really, really well.
We were thinking about Breeders' Cup, but to be honest with you, I was looking for a sponsor. It was not a good fiscal decision. Well, it is now, but at the time it cost us $130,000 just to get her in the race. We had $100,000 nomination and $30,000. That means we had to run second to break even. We run third, we would have lost $50,000.
So we had a lot of confidence that she'd do good, and we also knew this is the one shot for this filly to be a champion and everyone involved to be a champion. It just worked out great. I'll tell you, I couldn't be happier.
Q. Adam, since you brought up Sassy Image, she and perhaps also Hilda's Passion, were considered the two marquee older filly and mare sprinters. Obviously, Turbulent Descent had a lot of respect amongst the 3-year-old ranks. You mentioned the close decision in the Princess Rooney. Unfortunately, Sassy Image couldn't make this race. You were close to her at Calder. Sassy Image has a lot of Grade 1s. You've got one now. Hilda's Passion formidable.
I think I know where Bill stands from his earlier comment. Do you think the Eclipse should be going your way?
ADAM LAZARUS: Those other horses you mention, Hilda's Passion, I got a chance to see her up close. I watch the other owners go through press conferences and pontificate about their horses and stuff like that, and I'm not going to do that pause I have a lot of respect for not only the game but the two horses.
To be honest with you, if there's a person out there that follows the game closer than me, I've got to meet him, and that includes you, Lenny, because I watch your blog on Bloodhorse. The bottom line is I follow the game very, very closely.
You can't put up Hilda's Passion, Sassy Image, they're great fillies. If we win it, it's great. If not, it's okay. I'd like to get it for Bill. He gets up at 4:30 in the morning. Juan gets up at 4:30. I want it for them. For me, to be quite honest with you, I need to build my partnership up, and I'll do whatever it takes.
Q. Juan, when I talked to your trainer, he said that you had ridden this horse flawlessly for eight times in a row. Is there something between certain horses and riders where you get along and they respond well? Just describe the way you've been able to do this nine times in a row with this horse and never take a bad step with her?
JUAN LEYVA: You know, I mean, obviously some horses run well for some jockeys than they do for others. I just don't get in this filly's way. I let her do what she's comfortable doing, and when it's time to go, I just ask her to go.
I don't really do anything special on her. I just guide her through.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, clearly a day that not one of you will forget the rest of your lives. Oh, we have another question.
Q. This is for jockey Leyva. Now that you've burst on the national scene, people want to know who you are because this is a podium with John Velazquez and Javier Castellano. We have a new rider. It shows the common man has a chance in racing. Tell us how old you are, how long have you been riding, and how many winners do you have so far in your career.
JUAN LEYVA: First of all, I'd like to say -- (speaking Spanish.) That means happy birthday, mom. It's her birthday today. It's very special to win this race today.
I'm 27 years old. I was born in Mexico. I'm doing this because my dad forced me to. I didn't really want to be a jockey. I wanted to be a football player, but I was too small for that. So I settled for being a jockey.
I love what I do.
Q. And after today there are no regrets.
THE MODERATOR: I'm sure both your mom and your dad are extremely proud of you today, Juan. Congratulations to you, Bill Kaplan and Adam Lazarus. Musical Romance the winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Congratulations.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports