An Interview With: GEORGE BOLTON, BARBARA BANKE, STEVE ASMUSSEN
THE MODERATOR: All right. We're live back in the interview room. Now we have the winning connections of My Miss Aurelia, winner of the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Sprint. On the left, we have the co-owners, George Bolton and Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Stables. On our far right, trainer Steve Asmussen. The second Breeders' Cup win for all three of our guests today. Of course, they tasted success, as I'm sure you all remember, back in 2007 with Curlin in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Congratulations to all of you.
I don't know exactly who to direct this to, but I'll let anybody who wants answer it. One gentleman who was there in 2007 that isn't with us here today, of course, the late Jess Jackson, who has put his heart and soul into the game of horse racing. You know he's looking down smiling somewhere. Talk about, if you would, Barbara, the feeling of satisfaction knowing that Jess is winning a Breeders' Cup race here today with a horse that he thought so fondly of and, in fact, bred.
BARBARA BANKE: Well, I know it would mean the world to him to win this one with a homebred because he was always interested in breeding a race horse, not just horses for sale, but horses that would win at the track.
We're so fond of the mare, My Miss Storm Cat, her first was Albergatti, who also raced for us and also was fast. This filly we thought was the best yearling we had. We were so pleased when George bought her and allowed us to stay in.
So I know he'd be proud.
THE MODERATOR: Steve Asmussen, I'm sure you're very proud of the performance that your filly turned in today. She's undefeated, and she really left little doubt about who was best on the day. Looked like Corey had her in a nice spot all the way around. He's riding the next race, but what did Corey tell you after he climbed off?
STEVE ASMUSSEN: Well, we obviously were just very happy and celebrated the victory. Not much was spoken about the race. I thought he did a tremendous job with her. The filly is -- can't say enough about how top class she's been at every stage. Mentioned the pride that they bred this filly. She was their favorite at the farm.
George bought the filly, his yearling, and Stonestreet stayed in on her then. She went to Gulf Coast. She was their pick. She came in in the spring. She's just been everybody's star at every stage.
And the four races she's put in this year, don't think she's left any doubt. Love how she acted today. Can't say enough about the job that Scott Blasi and Carlos have done in their handling of her and how she acted today under those sort of circumstances. I thought she proved to be a champion today.
THE MODERATOR: George, it's been a very fortuitous partnership that you've had with Stonestreet over the years. Obviously, there's only one Curlin, but could you compare, if you would, or contrast the feeling today with back in '07.
GEORGE BOLTON: Well, I would say that Stonestreet, Jess and Barbara, have done great things in the sport. Obviously, Curlin was a horse we bought off the racetrack, but if you look at this year with MaClean's Music and Albergatti, this really outstanding filly, they've got top bred horses on the racetrack coast to coast.
So it was really fun for me that rarely do you send a horse to be broken when she's the now horse, and then in May, when they handed him off to Steve, no, she's the best one we've got, colts and fillies. And then to have her do this four-race streak so strongly, just be kind of in control at each spot is huge for me and fun that Jess and Barbara went to my parents' house for Curlin and Rachel and Astrology the night before the Preakness. They became great friends.
My mother -- this is factual -- has been to 19 races for me or for Barbara or when we've been with her at the races, and she's won 16 of them. It is a nice omen that she is part of the package as well. I think that the filly is outstanding. In terms of her versus Curlin, they're both just way ahead of my expectations, and I think that the common thread here is John Moynihan, obviously helps Barbara in a very big operation and me in a little smaller operation.
I've got to thank him. He got me to stay at Keeneland that Thursday to buy this filly. I had a flight at noon. He got me to go home at 8:00 at night to make sure I bought her. I'd have to thank John because he's put us in some really, really good horses over the last ten years.
THE MODERATOR: Steve, this is your very first juvenile Breeders' Cup filly starter, so now you're perfect in this particular race.
Often is the case at the Breeders' Cup where horses will come in but they maybe haven't faced the top flight competition here and they have to prove themselves here. My Miss Aurelia, that really wasn't the case. She was in a loaded maiden race in her debut. She was put in a dogfight in the Adirondack, won a pace duel last time out in the Frizette. She kind of showed something every single time rather than just laying over the field. Do you think that's seasoning or seasoned her perhaps for the run that, let's say, Grace Hall put at her today?
STEVE ASMUSSEN: Just like you mentioned being perfect in the juvenile fillies, it's something she's done. She came in, as George mentioned, as no surprise, she is the best one. She wasn't a secret at any stage, and she's who you wanted in those spots. This is very fortunate to be in a position to have something like this walk into your barn. She has definitely stood up to the challenge and proved to be extremely talented and well minded and competitive.
I'm very proud of her and everybody involved at this stage.
THE MODERATOR: This is my last question, and I'll throw it over. Steve, Corey Nakatani is experiencing somewhat of a resurgence in his career, and a lot of his winners these days are -- he's getting a leg up from you. Can you comment on Corey's recent run of success and his overall skills as a rider?
STEVE ASMUSSEN: That's his eighth Breeders' Cup win. He's been there. He's done it before. He has a tremendous amount of confidence in himself and who he's on. It's clicked. I think that, when you're trying to establish something, get something done, the terminology, it's just clicked, and we've had success.
Like today's performance, I thought she got jostled a little in the first turn. He had confidence in her, put her in a great spot, and she relaxed for him, and she responded for him. He rode as well as she ran. I'm very proud of both of them.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. People upstairs are welcome to ask a question.
Q. Can you recall what it was about her that you and Jess loved about her when you first got her on the farm?
BARBARA BANKE: Beautiful, smart. You know, she's a Smart Strike, and she was really a smart, well, good-minded filly. Just had a lot of elegance and class about her at every stage. So we thought she was beautiful and classy and really liked her.
Q. She's 4 for 4, and in the post-race talk, Corey Nakatani said she was able to relax and he was just a passenger and she did the rest. Given the way she is in winning, in winning with such authority, is she Derby material? Do you think she can handle the boys next year?
STEVE ASMUSSEN: As has been mentioned, she targeted serious races, for four races to run in, she's been tested and answered them. I think that we're very pleased with where it culminated for her this year. Definitely going to speak with -- we'll celebrate her victory, speak with Barbara and George and John Moynihan, and enjoy this and obviously try to map out something that she deserves.
Q. Do you think that it has any distance -- that she has any distance limitations that may keep you from looking at any of the longer races?
STEVE ASMUSSEN: I feel very -- watching the race today, I feel very good. Walking over, I was very concerned with the drying out racetrack. It seemed pretty slick and somewhat sticky. I think that late she looked as good at the wire as she did at the eighth pole against fillies that I know are good and have a lot of respect for.
I think that our job right now is to take care of her and have her in the best condition possible. I think that the distance will fall into place.
Q. George, as you mentioned, your mother has been on-hand for a lot of big victories. Given that this one is her namesake and all that goes along with that, just interested in your feelings about today and those emotions.
GEORGE BOLTON: I'd say that we all agree with good energy, and I think the first time our group really got together in one room was the night before the Preakness with Curlin, and this energy was in the room like this group is just doing so well. We can't be let down tomorrow. In the back of my mind, I was thinking that, never saying that out loud.
It's kind of been an internal family joke that is your mom going? Then, of course, my betting friends are like, is your mom going? I don't care about anything he is. Is your mom going to be there or not? It's kind of fed on itself. Obviously, it's very special for me.
I lived on a small horse farm growing up. So to have her at these big races and have them work out with her namesake is way beyond my expectations, but it has been a great ride really, since the Preakness of '07 with Aurelia, Jess, Barbara, me, and Steve.
Q. Barbara, can you touch a little bit on your emotions with Jess, what these last few months have been like and just what it means now to culminate in this win.
BARBARA BANKE: Well, it's been a rough 2011 for me and for my kids, two of whom are here. We decided that maybe it was more like we were just going to declare a year end and go forward. So it looks like we've turned the corner, and this is a good omen of things to come.
But I'm very happy to have the home bred My Miss Aurelia win this race, and the kids are happy. It means a lot to us.
THE MODERATOR: Just a very convincing and happily satisfying win today for My Miss Aurelia. Congratulations to George Bolton, Barbara Banke, and Steve Asmussen on a great victory, quite possibly an Eclipse award come January. We'll see. Great job and best of luck with your filly going forward.
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