Game On Dude
Ruler On Ice
Havre de Grace
$2 Exacta: $444.80
$2 Trifecta: $5,427.40
$2 Superfecta: $47,631.80
Winning Owner: WinStar Farms LLC (Kenny Troutt)
Winning Breeder: Aaron Jones and Marie Jones
Winning Trainer: Bill Mott
Winning Jockey: Mike Smith
Bill Mott (trainer, Drosselmeyer, 1st) – “He ran a super race. He was mowing them down the last eighth of a mile. I guess his biggest attribute is his stamina, and he showed it today. When they were wearing down, he was coming. It’s great. Maybe they’ll want to run him another year.”
Mike Smith (jockey, Drosselmeyer, 1st) – “He ran an awesome race right from the first jump. Right out of the gate, he got into a great rhythm. The key to this horse is to keep him moving. If you put on the breaks it messes him up. I knew I was going to wheel out, so I just kept him going. And I was able to save ground on both turns.”
Bob Baffert (trainer, Game On Dude, 2nd) - “He ran a great race. Chantal came back clean; that's a great race. She should be proud of herself. That horse (Drosselmeyer) came down the middle. What a shame that we missed, but what a horse (Game On Dude is). He’s run some big races. He just didn't see that horse. He's game, but he just didn't see the horse. Mike got her.”
Chantal Sutherland (jockey, Game On Dude, 2nd) – “He ran so hard. He ran great. He absolutely ran his race today. He was running well up front and Johnny (Velazquez on Uncle Mo) was pushing on us. He really gave us a run. But when he came to us, my horse dug in and tried harder than he ever has before. He really dug in. He ran every inch of the way and he was really tired at the end. I’ve never seen him that tired. I am so proud of him. He ran great.”
Kelly Breen (trainer, Ruler On Ice, 3rd) – “I think, he’s a top-class 3-year-old. I don’t know where this puts him with the others, but I have to say, after this race, because he was the only 3-year-old to hit the board, he’d certainly have to be under consideration (for Eclipse Award for Champion 3-Year-Old).”
Garrett Gomez (jockey, Rule On Ice, 3rd) – “I had a good run, all the way. I never got stopped. I was down inside saving all the ground I could, and I thought I was in great shape. The rail was clear and I was good. Then, when they all went for home, they all came over. So You Think dropped down on the rail and I had to adjust. I went out about four paths and made my run. And he came running. He ran good. No complaints.”
Larry Jones (trainer, Havre de Grace, 4th) – “We didn’t get the trip we wanted. The 11-horse (Headache) leaned on us pretty good from the start, but she ran well. Rick (Porter) likes to run where the gusto is. No regrets about running here. She didn’t do anything to tarnish herself. She has another year ahead of her.”
Ramon Dominguez (jockey, Havre de Grace, 4th) - “She tried hard. We had a good trip and she gave me all she had when I asked her at the head of the stretch.”
Scooter Dickey (trainer, Flat Out, 5th) – “No excuse, he just got outrun. That’s it.”
Alex Solis (jockey, Flat Out, 5th) – “I had a good trip. He broke sharp. The winner came from behind me. I have no excuse.”
Aidan O’Brien (trainer, So You Think, 6th) – “He ran a great race. He handled the track well, but speed is a big thing, and we would have liked them to have gone a little faster.”
Ryan Moore (jockey, So You Think, 6th) – “I was closer than what I had planned to be, but he jumped well (from the gate) and there's no point taking him back on this dirt. The pace was strong, but he stayed in sweetly behind them. He just ran out of petrol toward the end. It was his first run on the dirt, in the toughest race in North America. He ran a very creditable race. He came over (from Europe) and ran well on the dirt. It was worth a chance to find out."
Bill Mott (trainer, To Honor and Serve, 7th) - “He ran a good race. He was a little rank on the first turn. He kind of threw his head in the air, but he finally settled. When we asked him at the three-eighths pole, he came and he engaged the leaders. He’s at a tender age right now. I’m sure next year he will be much better.”
Jose Lezcano (jockey, To Honor and Serve, 7th) – “We had a very good trip and we were in the clear all the way. We had no excuses.”
Nick Zito (trainer, Ice Box, 8th) – “He ran a good race. What did he get beat, four or five lengths? He was following Mike (Smith) and Mike took off, obviously. He was widest of all. He ran a good race. He showed his form.”
Corey Nakatani (jockey, Ice Box, 8th) – “"My run was actually really good. I was in a good spot, made a big run. I was trying to get right next to Mike (Smith aboard winner Drosselmeyer) at the point of the turn, to where he could carry me. And Ice Box made such a long run to get to him, it took a little bit more kick out of him than I really would have liked. He gave a great effort and got beat three lengths for the whole thing. We ended up going wide because we wanted to make sure he had a clear run. We knew he was going to make a run. He was coming into the race real good. A little more luck, and who knows.”
Neal McLaughlin (assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Rattlesnake Bridge, 9th) - “It was a tough spot. We’re going to have fun with him next year. We gave it a shot.”
Calvin Borel (jockey, Rattlesnake Bridge, 9th) – “He ran pretty good. He is a grinder, and I think he will be much better as a 4-year-old next year.”
Todd Pletcher (trainer, Uncle Mo, 10th) – “I thought we were in good position, but he didn’t settle really well. He looked like he was kind of struggling with the surface. (Jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) tried to turn him loose, but he said he wavered with the racetrack.”
John Velazquez (jockey, Uncle Mo, 10th) – “You’re always disappointed when they don’t run as good as you expect them to. He was pretty strong going to the first turn. When he went up the back, the track started breaking underneath him a little bit and he kind of lost it. He was struggling with the track for whatever reason. I tried to give him his head where he would feel comfortable, but he never really got into a good rhythm to get a good grip of the track. I didn’t want to beat him up in the stretch when everybody started going by me.”
Todd Pletcher (trainer, Stay Thirsty, 11th) – “He ran kind of evenly throughout. He got stuck down on the inside, which is what we weren’t hoping for. But other than that, he just got outrun.”
Javier Castellano (jockey, Stay Thirsty, 11th) - “It was a good trip for me. I was close to the pace and that’s where I wanted to be. He didn’t fire today, unfortunately. I think he didn’t handle the track very well. Unfortunately, that’s the way the race unfolded. We should have been outside a little bit, but in a big field there wasn’t anything you could do. We had to deal with whatever we had to deal with.”
Michael Maker (trainer, Headache, 12th) – “He got beat up pretty good. He had some issues in the race.”
Paco Lopez (jockey, Headache, 12th) - “He tried. That was all he could do.”
UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT FOLLOWS:
THE MODERATOR: Back one last time in the interview room. This time with the connections of Drosselmeyer, winner of the 2011 Breeders' Cup Classic. Congratulations. With us up front, left to right, Elliott Walden, president Winstar Farms; Mike Smith, rider of Drosselmeyer; trainer Bill Mott, won the Ladies Classic yesterday, back here with us today to talk Breeders' Cup Classic; and on the far right, Lisa Troutt of Winstar Farms. Kenny is not here, I understand. Lisa is here to accept the accolades on behalf of the farm. Lisa, congratulations.
LISA TROUTT: Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: As terrific as winning a Breeders' Cup Classic must be, I imagine it's doubly terrific having the winner sired by one of your own stallions.
LISA TROUTT: It really is. Like I said out there, we are beyond thankful and kind of surprised. I'm surprised, but I shouldn't say that. I know a lot of people are not surprised.
Kenny has so believed in this horse the whole way through. When we went to the Belmont, and he couldn't make it there either. He was with our boys at a basketball tournament. He knew that morning. He said, this horse has a great chance, and he pulled it off. He hasn't done that well since.
But he has so believed in this horse, and he just has a way of pulling it out. So we are very thankful but very sad that Kenny is not here for this one.
THE MODERATOR: Elliott, I want to ask you, I think it's no secret that a lot of people when they thought of Drosselmeyer and the Breeders' Cup, people were thinking Marathon. Lo and behold, a great second in the Jockey Cup Gold Cup, now in the Winner's Circle at the Breeders' Cup Classic. How do we get from Marathon to Classic?
ELLIOT WALDEN: Well, Bill Mott, that's how. Back before we ran him at Saratoga, we ran him on the grass. We had a plan to get to the Breeders' Cup. Bill came up with the fact that there was a race when he was second on Belmont day, he came up with a plan to run him on the grass once because it was a mile and a half, and that would set him up for the Jockey Club and see what happened in the Jockey Club and where that would take us.
He ran well in the Jockey Club, and I think anybody that's seen him train all week, well, for two weeks, would just know that this horse is doing very well and is peaking at the right time.
THE MODERATOR: Bill, congratulations. Second win of the weekend for you, eight overall. Two of the best ones you can win, I guess, the Ladies Classic and the Classic. Yet another one of your horses just peaking at that time of the year after a prolonged campaign without giving away any trade secrets, how do you do it at the end of a year like this?
WILLIAM MOTT: Well, there's a lot of luck involved. We backed out of the horse after the Belmont last year. We gave him a lot of time. He had a couple of easy months off, didn't do anything.
We brought him back the beginning of the year. He was fat and really kind of didn't get in the rhythm the first two or three races. As the year progressed, he seemed to get a little better and a little better.
Really midway through Saratoga, after we ran him in the Sword Dancer, it was kind of like somebody had flipped a switch, and he just turned around. He was moving great. He was into his training. There again, he ran a big one in the Jockey Gold Cup to be second.
And he was coming on. We didn't beat the winner, but it looked like ‑‑ really, Elliott kind of made the decision, I think, to lean towards the Classic with him after that race. Really, it was a great decision, and we've been here for a month, and the horses have had good work on the racetrack. I think it really paid off.
We brought all our Breeders' Cup horses in, and they trained, they worked here, they were familiar with the track, and I think this horse was head to head with Birdrun the last three times he worked here.
Birdrun ran well yesterday. He got beat, a good second. But this horse came on. His biggest attribute, we all know, was his stamina. He ran well. He gave me one of my biggest wins of my career. He won the Belmont stakes going 1 1/2 miles. We know the trip isn't going to be a problem. We felt he was doing well enough. He's going to be running at him at the end.
Mike rode him well before. Glad we got him off the west coast and got him back here to win another big one for us. The combination paid off.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, congratulations. The two wins today on board Amazombie and the big one with Drosselmeyer now tie you with Jerry Bailey, 15 wins, most by any jockey in Breeders' Cup history. All I can say, Mike, is ‑‑
[ Applause ]
THE MODERATOR: After that round of applause, I guess all I can say is what a difference a year makes, huh?
MIKE SMITH: It really does. Last year I sat here just devastated, thought my life was over. Just to come back and have a day like I did today and to win the race that I got beat by a nose in last year, it's just amazing. Thank God.
THE MODERATOR: Happy to take questions.
Q. Are you guys going to retire him next year and where are you standing him?
ELLIOT WALDEN: We're probably going to retire him, but we'll sit down and huddle up tomorrow and talk about making that decision then. But the plans were to retire him after this race.
You know, as Bill said, he won the Belmont, and this puts him in a very unique position to win the Belmont and the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Horses in this day and age don't run a lot of starts. He's had 15. A lot of them don't have stamina, and he will get you the Classic type horse. So that's an exciting thing for his breeding credential, and we'll just sit down and huddle and see how that is.
Q. This is for jockey Mike Smith. There are some tremendous story lines today. You won two Breeders' Cup races. Last year, you said, when you lost on Zenyatta, it hurt a great deal, and you came back and won this great race today.
Plus in the battle of the exes, you beat Chantal Sutherland, and finally you tied Jerry Bailey for 15 Breeders' Cup races. Ten years down the road, which one will you remember the most?
MIKE SMITH: Just blessed to win a Breeders' Cup, period, is just amazing. But to win the Classic, it's just a step above. It's pretty incredible.
I'd like to say again ‑‑ I'd like to really thank Jeff Ruby. I wore his logo today. For every time I wore it, he donated $30,000 today to Disabled Riders, and just for someone to do something like that is pretty amazing. Thank you, Jeff.
Q. Could you just talk about how the race was run and what you saw or felt as you were coming down the stretch.
MIKE SMITH: I was telling Bill from the first jump out of the gate, I felt very confident. I know it's kind of hard to say when you're way back there last, but it was kind of Zenyatta‑like, as far as the ones that she won. He just felt confident. He was in a great rhythm. He was breathing. He was doing everything I asked him to do.
Going into the far turn, he took a deep breath, and I knew he was loaded again. Like Bill said, he likes to run a mile and a half. So I went ahead and went wide so he thought it was a mile and a half.
Q. This will be for both Mike and Bill. Mike, how did you happen to get back on Drosselmeyer after being away from him for almost a year and a half? Bill, if you could answer that.
WILLIAM MOTT: I think early in the year we tried to get Mike to come ride him one time, and he was tied up on the 3‑year‑old trail with a 3‑year‑old in California and couldn't make it for one of his races.
So him being in the west and we're in the east, you know, we used a local rider on him until this race, when the rider that had been riding him rode the other horse that we ran in the Classic, rode To Honor and Serve.
I thought it was an automatic, when we had to split them up, Mike had ridden this horse so well before, and I thought there was good chemistry. We just got on the phone, and he was available, and I think Elliott and I were both very pleased with the combination. It was the same combination that was there for Belmont.
Lisa was there to represent us for the Belmont, and it really worked out well.
THE MODERATOR: Bill, can we presume that Jose Lezcano or his agent had the choice of the two, or did you assign ‑‑
WILLIAM MOTT: You know, I really don't know how that ‑‑ I guess the most recent victory on either horse was the Pennsylvania Derby, and To Honor and Serve was fairly impressive in that race. He's a younger horse. And we ‑‑ he just stayed on that horse. He was the most recent victor, and I guess it was fresh in his mind.
That was probably ‑‑ there was no huge discussion over it. We just headed in that direction with Jose.
Q. Again, for Mike, you talked about last year and how hard that was. How long did it take for you to get over that race?
MIKE SMITH: Until now. I mean, that's one that will always hurt, but this sure helps, man. It really does.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, can you just take us through your journey out there?
MIKE SMITH: Again, like I said, although we were far back, he was really happy. He was running good. He was getting there. He was doing everything I asked. Every time I'd move, he'd move. I felt confident that he was going to run big. It was just a matter if I was good enough to get there.
I was able to even save ground going into the last turn and save it until I could. Once you get him moving, one of the big tricks with him is you don't want to tap on the brakes. Once you get him moving, he likes to keep on moving.
Sometimes you forfeit a little ground, but it works for him. Like I said, he wants every bit of a 1 1/4 mile or farther.
Q. Mike, how'd you feel about getting back on Drosselmeyer after being away from him for a long time?
MIKE SMITH: I was extremely excited. I had ridden him once to win the Belmont on him, and to get a chance to ride him back in the Classic, I don't know, I got this good feeling as soon as I found out.
Then I was watching the TVG works and everything else and watching the way he was training, talking to everybody, everybody was talking about the way he was training out there. He was telling everybody going in already that he was going to run big, and he sure enough did.
THE MODERATOR: We have a question from upstairs.
Q. Can you just put this weekend in perspective, and given that it's here at Churchill Downs where you really first kind of came on the national spotlight as a trainer?
WILLIAM MOTT: Well, any win is always a good win, and it's always special to win here. You know, you can't ever fathom thinking about winning two races like this on a weekend. I mean, the biggest, most prestigious races of the weekend.
I don't know, it is special. We've always been lucky here. I guess this ‑‑ lucky enough to hold the win record and the stake record here. Like I said yesterday, there's a lot of guys biting at our heels. We keep chugging and keep trying. Hey, it's always nice to win a Breeders' Cup Classic, I've got to tell you.
Q. The question here is how does it feel to beat Chantal?
THE MODERATOR: Presumably, that's for Mike.
WILLIAM MOTT: Hey, it felt really, really good.
MIKE SMITH: I didn't know who it was in front of me at that point. All I knew was I was moving forward, and I wasn't going to stop pedaling until I hit the wire. It just happened to be her.
She should be very proud. Her horse ran great. She ran an awesome race, but what can I say? I was on Drosselmeyer today, and he was the best today.
THE MODERATOR: Coming from behind, Mike, you obviously ‑‑ not obviously. When you're in with horses that have big reputations like Uncle Mo and Flat Out was getting a lot of publicity, Havre de Grace, at any point were you going by them and thinking, gee, things are starting to look pretty good?
MIKE SMITH: Yeah, going into the first turn, I was very confident that he was going to run really well. Although I was last, I was still within reach of them. He was moving very well, and I knew I had a big punch left.
ELLIOT WALDEN: You had two guys.
MIKE SMITH: Did I have two guys? I didn't realize that. I thought I was last. Once we angled out and got out of the kickout, he really picked up then.
THE MODERATOR: I think Rattlesnake Bridge was in a different area code back there.
Q. Based on what you said, the fact it was a solidly run race, did that contribute to your win? Finally, as you crossed the wire, did you exchange a word or two with Chantal Sutherland?
MIKE SMITH: No, I just congratulated her when it was all over walking back. She should hold her head up. She did a great job and ran second in the Classic first time ever riding in it. I think it's incredible. I think she's pretty proud. She should be happy.
Q. Mike, just, again, congratulations. But with Chantal, does the story line ever get old at any point when you have to answer questions like this?
MIKE SMITH: About right now. Do I have to answer that?
THE MODERATOR: You can answer any way you wish.
MIKE SMITH: I turned the page a long time ago. I wish everyone else would.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take that as a yes.
Q. Mr. Mott, you've had some great horses, Cigar is certainly among them. Where does Drosselmeyer fit among the great horses you've trained given he's a Belmont winner and a Breeders' Cup Classic winner?
WILLIAM MOTT: He's right up there with the Breeders' Cup Classic winners for sure. He didn't rattle off as many wins as Cigar, and they'll probably never, in my lifetime, probably never be another Cigar. He was a great horse, and he lasted for ‑‑ consistently for over two years, and we took him round the world, and he was wonderful.
But this is a different situation, and I think it's just a really big thing for any horse to win a Belmont and a Breeders' Cup Classic.
Could I have told you that two years ago when we got started with him when he was a 2‑year‑old? No, I couldn't have done that. But you keep working with him, and the horses keep improving. If they stay sound and they're healthy, you know, they've got good pedigrees, a lot of times they climb that ladder, and he's reached the point where, hey, he's joined the best horses in the country.
Q. This is for Mike. Was it just race circumstances, or was it tactics? You were well out towards the middle of the racetrack. Did you want to make sure that horse did not see you? You said you didn't know who it was in front of you.
He was talking about you didn't think the horse saw you. Was that by design? You didn't want the horse to get a chance to see who's out there?
MIKE SMITH: Have you ever watched me ride? That's my style. No, honestly, it was just getting him going forward, getting him moving. He gave me a real good turn of foot when I asked him to, and I just wanted to keep him going forward.
If there was a seam in between, I would have took it, but there wasn't at the time, and he was moving too good to wait for one.
Q. Mike, can you tell the story of how you connected with Brad, your agent, and what drew you to Brad.
MIKE SMITH: What's the question again?
Q. How did you connect with Brad Pettigrew, who's your agent, and what drew you to him?
MIKE SMITH: He was one of my best friends before he ever became an agent. When the opportunity came up ‑‑ I needed an agent, to be honest with you, I called him up. He was in northern California, and that's how I got him.
I owe him a lot today. He worked hard at getting me on Drosselmeyer the first time at the Belmont, and he took off Euroears in a Grade 1 at Del Mar to stay on Amazombie. Of course, Euroears beat us by about five that day. He said, you wait till we get back on the 3rd. I owe a lot to Brad.
Q. Mike, one year ago, you were in this room for very different reasons. How bizarre is it to have made this kind of journey from the heart breaking loss on Zenyatta to this victory?
MIKE SMITH: Like I said, it's amazing. As soon as I found out I was riding Drosselmeyer, I kept praying about it. Wow, this could really take the sting away. It did. It really did. I feel very happy and content. Can't wait to celebrate.
THE MODERATOR: Well, time to celebrate, as Mike says. Elliott Walden, Mike Smith, Bill Mott, Lisa Troutt. Please pass on our congratulations to Kenny. Congratulations to Drosselmeyer, the 2011 Breeders' Cup Classic champion.
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