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Author Topic: An interview with: WILLIAM MOTT, MIKE SMITH, BENJAMIN LEON  (Read 348 times)
jrstark
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« on: November 02, 2012, 06:54:49 PM »

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by team Royal Delta, historic Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic victory.  Royal Delta the second horse ever to win back‑to‑back Ladies' Classics, of course, Bayakoa the other.
   We have jockey, Mike Smith who has now become the all time winningest Breeders' Cup jockey, 16 wins.  Jerry Bailey will have to come out of retirement in order to do anything about it.
   William Mott, 9th Breeders' Cup, tied for second with Shug McGaughey.  The bad news is you have 10 more to catch D. Wayne Lukas.  Congratulations on winning this year with Royal Delta.  You bought her shortly after the Breeders' Cup, looks like a wise investment and the decision was key here coming into the race.
   Your horse was so good.  There was a lot of chatter about running her in the Classic.  Obviously you made a great decision.  Talk about the decision and can we indeed see her next year at age 5?
   BENJAMIN LEON:  Yes, the decision was very much influenced by Mr. Mott, and we always thought that she would always run in the Ladies', but we had the option of preregistering her for the Classic, which we did, in case things happened and we changed our minds we would afford ourselves the opportunity, this past Tuesday and we did.  The original decision was to have her run in the Ladies' Classic, which she did.  Our plan is to run her for next year, yes.
   Our intention is to take her to Dubai to give her one more shot with Mike Smith in order to become the world champ at the Dubai World Cup and we will take it one day at a time and make decisions after that World Cup.

   Q.  Bill, your instincts were right with Royal Delta, she won about as convincingly as she could.  How do you keep a filly like that so good for so long to where she delivers her best punch in the race that matters the most?
   WILLIAM MOTT:  Seems like she is a filly that gets better as the year goes on and of course that might play into going to Dubai, that might contradict what we're doing there, but I think in the middle of the summer she was doing well.     But I think she's in the cool weather, does good and she has never been over raced, she was lightly raced as a 2 and 3 year old and she is a sound mare and the way she is bred, she is bred to get better as she gets older.  I'm in hopes that she'll stay as good next year or even be better.
   She has to remain healthy and we've got big plans for her, but I don't know if there is ever a filly that you could shoot for the moon with, I would say it would probably be one like her.

   Q.  Mike, we know jockeys often go into races with a plan A, a plan B, and a plan C, but where in your thinking did going wire‑to‑wire in the Ladies' Classic, what letter was that in terms of your various plans?
   MIKE SMITH:  To be honest, I'm not sure I had alert for that one.  She jumped extremely well today and her best races are whenever you can let her do her thing, let her get into her stride and normally that's laying a bit off the pace.     She broke so well today.  Johnny Lopez, the man that had me in the gate did a great job with her.  He had her standing great and when you have a mare with a stride that she has and as talented as she is the best thing to do is stay out of her way and that's what I did.  We were cruising right along but she was doing well within herself.

   Q.  She cost a good piece of money, talk about your investment in her and how that's paying off for you.  I assume your long‑range plan is to breed her.  Talk about making that big of an investment and the gamble and risk involved and how relieved you may be at this point.
   WILLIAM MOTT:  Well, it's like any risk investment but this was a calculated risk after what she did last year in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic I had the opportunity to buy her, which I did, four days after that, I think was four days after that.  I think that long term she'll prove that she might be the cheapest horse that I ever would buy.
   The same thing happened to me with a mare in the Paso Fino World and she gave me, later on in her life the number one start worldwide.  She gave me many years of enjoyment.
   So Royal Delta, I think, a horse like that, of that quality, as I've said in interviews before, if we don't go out to try to buy a filly based on information, we buy her, we try to buy one on race and ability there is no doubt after today you buy her.  And if you buy one more a brood mare in the future for pedigree, you buy her.  And how many times are we going to see those come together in one horse is virtually impossible.
   That's what I saw her when I brought her, I asked my chief vet where would you draw the line, and he said I don't know how much money you can make or you have but there is only one of her.
   That made me make the commitment that we would take her home.  Thank God that George didn't go any further than what he did, but nevertheless I think she has given the thoroughbred community good moments, a lot of enjoyment and in the future we intend to, as of right now, intend to start breeding her in February of 2014.
   I'm sure that she'll make beautiful babies.

   Q.  Bill, it's tough to repeat on any big stage but talk about what it is to repeat on the a stage like that and was it déjà vu all over again for you?
   WILLIAM MOTT:  Well, I think we came with the right horse.  To be able to ‑‑ I want to thank Mr. Leon for having the confidence in me and taking the risk to give the filly back to me after he purchased her out of the sale last year and it was an emotional win for me last year to win the Ladies' Classic, and then of course it was emotional to see her go on to the sale last year and not knowing what was going to happen, although it was exciting to see her sell.
   But for myself and my entire crew I was pleased to be able to get her back in the barn.  It's such a matter of pride to have a horse of that quality and obviously to have the quality of people that I have to surround her and to work with her and, you know, we've had a lot of confidence in her from the beginning and to bring her back in this race is ‑‑ I thought she could do it again if things went well and they did.     We had a little bit of a rough trip from New York, when we left, trying to beat the hurricane out of there, they had to load in the middle of the night and she got excited backing into her stall on the plane and she scraped herself up and that caused me worry this week.
   But, whew, I can tell you I feel a whole lot better right now.  It's a real sigh of relief and a big joy to watch her run and to have the opportunity to run her again next year and we're going to take on some big boys if we go back to Dubai.
   But I think we're up to the challenge and whatever happens, happens, and she has done her job for us so far and she has always been a good representative and good servant for us.

   Q.  In 2012 you won the Ladies' Classic and before you took her to Dubai you gave her a race at jump street, next year are you planning to give her a run at the Meydan before the big race?
   WILLIAM MOTT:  I would probably do that, if things fell into place, I think giving her a race is probably the right thing to get her back on her toes, because when we get her back to Florida she'll have some turn‑out time and obviously they let down.
   Hopefully she'll put weight on and have some relaxation and have time off from racing and when you bring those horses back after they have had turn‑out time I think it's probably good to get a race in them to get them back in the game, not that you expect them to have to win, and that's what happened last year.
   She finished second in her come‑back race and that wasn't a surprise to me, I thought it was possible she could get beat on that day, but when we went to Dubai, she was primed and we got her to Dubai in good order.  She traveled well and she loved the track.  She just unfortunately had a bad trip and had some bad racing luck.
   The way we went into it last year was actual okay.  Now, would she have to have her prep race at Gulf Stream?  Not necessarily.  We could go back to Tampa for that matter, but as long as she gets a start and, you know, gets things cranking again and gets ready.

   Q.  Bill, now that you've won the Ladies' Classic again do you allow yourself to think about winning a Classic tomorrow?
   WILLIAM MOTT:  We have more work to do and we've got three good chances in there tomorrow, and we're not ‑‑ we're certainly not counting our chickens before they hatch, but I've got three horses that are going into it physically the way they're training they're doing very well and I think any one of the three has a chance.
   I know it's a deep race and there are good horses and horses that have proven themselves well over this race track but they're all good, and we can't stop now.  You've got to push forward and look to tomorrow.

   Q.  Mike, the track looked like it was playing good to front runners today and also on the inside.  I know you said you didn't have a plan but did that enter into your thoughts at all, as far as getting her out to the lead maybe today a little more than you might ordinarily?
   MIKE SMITH:  Definitely without a doubt, as soon as she jumped well and I was able to clear 'em as easy as I did, I definitely ‑‑ that was definitely in my mind.  The track has been favoring speed, although if they go quick enough they will pay for it a bit and she was able to go quick and keep on running which is extremely impressive.

   Q.  Do you think she was going very quick?
   MIKE SMITH:  She does things so easy.  It feels easier than what the numbers come up to be.  But she'll cruise around there and you think she is going 47, but she throws up a 45.  She has an enormous stride.

   Q.  Mike, does it feel good to get that milestone out of the way Friday?
   MIKE SMITH:  It certainly does.  I have five tomorrow, I ride 5 tomorrow and I have some great chances.  It's good to win this race and it gives you confidence going into tomorrow, so we will see what happens.

   Q.  Bill, the race in Saratoga, I know you keep getting asked about it, but was there anything ‑‑ was it just not her best ‑‑ I know you were given a lot of weight that day but was she not her best that day or does it just happen?
   WILLIAM MOTT:  Part of that could have been a learning experience, Mike learned something after the race, I think, and we did give the winner 10 pounds, we only got beat half a length.  If Mike had to do it over after the race, maybe he would have done things slightly differently during the course of the race, maybe.
   As you remember, It's Tricky stumbled out of the gate, and speed didn't develop in the race and I think it was a case where we planned on sitting just off the pace and one of the pace horses didn't show up and consequently, the pace was a little slower and softer and maybe, you know.  I think Mike felt like if he would have attacked the speed earlier, maybe it would have turned out differently.  But the good thing was that we learned and we moved on and not only myself, Mike, and everybody.
   You think sometimes that you learn everything about a horse after you've run 'em two or three times and that's not true, you keep learning and learn and go learning, you know, until they retire.
   You're always constantly trying to tweak things a little bit and make adjustments but without making a complete turn‑around.  I think she's ‑‑ we got her there today.

   Q.  Mike, 16 wins is an extraordinary achievement and with all of those ‑‑ all that young talent out there and there is a lot of it, you keep showing up at the right time, so congratulations.  Bill, seems nowadays a lot of trainers or connections are afraid to loose and they campaign in a more crafty or defensive way of not wanting to loose.  You got to Dubai.  You've run on tracks that wouldn't be the perfect track for Royal Delta, you've given weight, you don't seem afraid to lose.  Has that always been your philosophy?
   WILLIAM MOTT:  I think it has been.  I believe you've got to run these horses.  We've got 'em to run 'em and enjoy them and if you're afraid to get beat you're going to have an awful frustrating time in this business and obviously we do get frustrated when we loose but you cannot be afraid to ‑‑ I see people that want to ‑‑ only want to run when they think they have to win, and I don't think that's the case.
   I think when you're running your young horses, eventually you've got to get 'em started.  And as I said before, you think you know 'em after you run 'em one or two times, no, you don't.  You keep learning.  You run them and make adjustments after that, whether it's distance, surface, track condition, that sort of thing, how to train them, what you want to do with them.
   I think there was a time, maybe that's kept my win percentage down just a little bit, maybe instead of shooting 25%, I shoot 19% or 18% or whatever, and I think some guys are afraid to see their winning percentage go below 20% or they think they're going bad.
   But the fact is you've got to give these lesser horses a chance as well.  You can't always have a champion like Royal Delta and you've got to give them all a chance to develop and sometimes that's going to take a few races, where they're not going to be winning races.

   Q.  Mike, would you compare Royal Delta to Zenyatta, but is she physically as big?
   MIKE SMITH:  She is close to it.  How tall is she?
   WILLIAM MOTT:  I've never put a stick on her, maybe 16 and change.
   MIKE SMITH:  She has that kind of stride.  She has a tremendous stride.  She does it with ease.  I told Bill I was going 48 out there, and he said I think you went 45 and I looked at the clock and I was like, wow!
   That's how easy she does things, she has no wasted action, everything moves so fluidly.  She actually waits for competition, and once they get to her she locks on them and seems like she can get around them again, we learned that at Delaware that day.

   Q.  Do you feel blessed to have ridden both these horses?
   MIKE SMITH:  Extremely.  I remember when Bill approached me and said Mr. Leon was thinking about making a change, and would I be interested in making a commitment I jumped out of my boots I said, "Definitely."
   I didn't even check, and I'm so grateful that Bill gave me that opportunity and Mr. Leon, and I called my agent and said I don't know if we have any obligations, but if we do, turn 'em down, and I said I think we get I think we get Royal Delta, this is one of the greatest opportunities of my life.

     THE MODERATOR:  It was one of the most anticipated races and what we got was a performance that was utterly convincing and left no question about who is the queen in American racing this year.  Congratulations, Mike Smith, Bill, and Mr. Leon.  Thank you and congratulations to you all. 

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