JIM MULVIHILL: Country House is the second?longest prize Kentucky Derby winner ever, paying $132.40. We're thrilled now to be joined by these first?time Kentucky Derby winners, starting, of course, with our hall of fame trainer and Churchill Downs legend Bill Mott on the far end; winning jockey, Flavien Prat. Congratulations to you.
FLAVIEN PRAT: Thank you.
JIM MULVIHILL: From the far side towards me, we have Guinness McFadden, followed by Mrs. Maury Shields, whose late husband, Jerry Shields, was the owner and breeder of this horse. Congratulations to you as well.
MRS. J.V. SHIELDS JR.: Thank you.
JIM MULVIHILL: And then representing LNJ Foxwoods, Jamie Roth, as well as racing manager Alex Solis II. So a round of applause for these folks.
A historic Derby, the first time a winner has been put up via disqualification.
Bill Mott, can you just tell us about your thoughts throughout waiting out the inquiry and how it feels to win your first Kentucky Derby in general, as well as this way.
BILL MOTT: Well, first of all, I think our horse ran great. You know, I was really pleased with the position he had. I was pleased with the way Flavien rode him and the way the horse responded for him.
You know, as far as the win goes, it's bittersweet. I would be lying if I said it was any different. You always want to win with a clean trip and have everybody recognize the horse as the very good horse and for the great athlete that he is. I think, due to the disqualification, probably some of that is diminished. But this is horse racing.
There were two horses in the race that lost all chance to win a Kentucky Derby, and they were in position at the time to hit the board. And people bet on these races. There's millions of dollars that are bet. And there are some people that bet on the two horses that got bothered, and they had no chance to get a placing.
And I know the stewards had a very, very difficult decision. I mean, I'm glad I wasn't in their shoes. I'm glad I didn't have to make the decision in front of over a hundred thousand people and the millions of people that are watching this on TV and around the world.
But with that being said, I'm damn glad they put our number up.
(Cheers and applause.)
JIM MULVIHILL: Flavien, the incident that resulted in the disqualification did not necessarily affect you very much, but we'd still like to hear what you were aware of coming to the 1/4 pole. And, also, if you could take us through your entire trip.
FLAVIEN PRAT: Well, the entire trip was good. He broke well and just put me in the race. He was traveling really well the entire race. And once I got him outside and I started to make my move, well, Maximum Security, he kind of drift out and turned us sideways. Like you say, the two horse inside of me had a lot more trouble than I did, but it affect me anyway.
JIM MULVIHILL: And just tell us what it's like to win a Kentucky Derby.
FLAVIEN PRAT: Well, it felt pretty good actually. It's a great moment. It's a dream come true. Coming from Europe, Breeders' Cup was a bigger deal for me. But as soon as I rode the first year here, I was in the grandstands and I watched this race, and it's amazing. I mean, there's no race like the Kentucky Derby. And I was hoping to one day ride it, ride the Derby, and to win it. And it's done today. I'm really happy and blessed.
JIM MULVIHILL: Mrs. Shields, we'd love to hear from you, pretty poignant win. Your feelings over the last half hour watching the race and waiting for the result and winning a Kentucky Derby with the homebred.
MRS. J.V. SHIELDS JR.: Well, it's very exciting because Jerry bred the horse. He's a homebred. And I just thank Billy Mott for training him, Flavien for riding him, and for this incredible win. It will take a while for it to sink in. Thank you.
Q. Mr. Mott, congratulations on your first Derby win. Country House was sitting ninth early in the race. He had previously used closing tactics in his career. Was it the plan to have him more forwardly placed in the race?
BILL MOTT: No. I thought we would probably be out the back, and I expressed my thoughts toFlavien just to be patient with him, let him break. I didn't feel he had a lot of early gait speed. When he was laying in close proximity to the leaders, I was a little surprised. But I could tell that he was really traveling well. He wasn't running off, but he was traveling very well. He handled the slot very well.
He's a horse that's ?? he's been on the improve. He's been a big backward type of horse. When he was a 2?year?old, he was one of those that didn't show us a lot until he got in the fall of the year and we ran him a couple times. And it seemed like the lightbulb was starting to come on.
I've been telling people all winter that when we ?? if this horse ever wakes up and figures out, really, what he's doing, that the mile and a quarter of the Kentucky Derby is certainly within his reach and not to discount him.
And we were right today. I mean, he showed up. He showed up in a big way. I think everybody showed up in a big way. Everybody that's been in contact with this horse has showed up in a big way. Everybody has done a great job from before the time that I got him. There's so much that goes into getting these horses to this point, whether it's the farm people that raise the horse, the people that make the ?? do the matings.
And there's a lot of hurdles to jump over. And just to get him to the race is such an honor and, really, such an accomplishment, not just for me but for everybody that deals with him.
I mean, I'm fortunate enough to just be the spokesman for everybody that has put their hands on this horse and put some thought into getting him ready, from the mating to walking into that circle at Churchill Downs.
And I got to tell you, it's a pretty special event and it's ?? you know, why do it the easy way? You know what I mean?
This is kind of an unusual way to get to the Winner's Circle with having the DQ in the race. But I would say the stewards, in my opinion, I think they made the right call. And I will try to look at it from an unbiased point of view. I know they looked at it for a long, long time. And I'm sure that they didn't want to do it; but, as I said before, if it was an ordinary race on a Wednesday, I think they definitely would have taken the winner down.
I think that's the only way we can really look at it. And if we need any ?? to rationalize it at all, I think that's ?? I think that's how I've got to look at it. But I'm ?? nonetheless, I'm pleased with everybody that's, as I said, been in contact. And my staff, they've all done a wonderful job. And they've all worked with a Kentucky Derby winner now.
Q. Bill, obviously, great result for you. What kind of result do you think this is for the sport of horse racing, that you have the first time a Kentucky Derby winner has been taken down like that?
BILL MOTT: Well, I mean, it will ?? it's something that will give somebody a lot to talk about for a long time. I mean, they'll be speaking about the result of this race from now until they run the next Kentucky Derby and the next ten Kentucky Derbys and 20 Kentucky Derbys. I mean, I wouldn't be surprised if this race shows up on TV over and over and over a year from now.
There's always a lot of controversy in this sport, and we're probably going to be involved in it from now on. But I'm going to take it. I'm just pleased for the owners and the breeders of this horse that have put so much into the game. I'm really glad to be sitting up here on this stage with them.
JIM MULVIHILL: Bill, a lot of the time there would be an expectation that, in a race this big, there would be a certain amount of race riding. Do you have thoughts on whether, in general, riders should be allowed a little more leeway in a race of this stature versus adjudicating by the letter of the law?
BILL MOTT: I don't really think this was race riding. I think the horse did this on his own. I mean, for me to watch it, I'd have to watch it again and again. And maybe somebody else can point something else out to me. But I don't think Luis Saez did anything intentionally. I think his horse was green. He could have been shying from the inside. He could have been ?? you know, he's an inexperienced horse. He's only run three or four times. And he's probably never seen anything like this before.
I can't answer why he did it, but it looked like he came off his inside lead at the 5/16 pole. And when he did, he came out three paths, and he bothered two horses. And Luis is a friend of mine. He rides for me. I've got friendships with the connections of that horse. And, you know, my heart actually aches a little bit for them, but that's the way it is. I've been on the other end of it plenty of times, just not in the Kentucky Derby.
Q. Bill, how do you liken this experience, just this moment, compared to everything you went through with Cigar?
BILL MOTT: That was a pretty special time. And the run with Cigar lasted almost 2 1/2 years. So there was a lot of pressure. We came over today, and we were bound to enjoy the day and have a good time. And I think Guinness and Mrs. Shields and the Roths all came here. I don't know that our expectations were that we were going to wind up in the Winner's Circle. But I think, naturally, everybody was hopeful.
But I think it was just a real thrill to find out that the decision that we collectively made to run this horse in the Kentucky Derby worked out. I think it's been a great team effort, and everybody was willing to go ahead and give it a shot.
As you could see looking at the tote board, there was a lot of people that probably didn't think we could win. But that's horse racing.
Q. Guinness, could you talk about the family involvement of you and this horse. And, also, if you guys could talk about how the partnership was formed with everybody on this horse.
GUINNESS McFADDEN: Sure. Obviously, I think it was a fourth?generation homebred of Jerry's. So four dams back, he's been breeding this family.
Q. The human family connection.
GUINNESS McFADDEN: Me? I had nothing to do with it.
I'm just, I guess, the owner on paper, one of the owners. Jerry passed away and left the horses to us. So that's how it happened.
JIM MULVIHILL: The partnership with LNJ.
GUINNESS McFADDEN: Give me a second. We've just been working with Alex and Jason for a long time. It just seemed like the right thing to do. It's always fun to do it with other people, and theRoths are great. We thought we had a good horse. And, I don't know, it just happened.
BILL MOTT: This horse broke his maiden at Gulfstream in very impressive fashion. I called Guinness after he crossed the finish line, and I said, "Guinness," I said, "Your phone is going to be ringing off the hook." And I think he was traveling at the time. And so we had a conversation about it. I think his phone was ringing off the hook, which he told me about later.
But he was ?? as he said, he's had an association with Jason and Alex. And I think he felt comfortable. They wanted to buy a piece of the horse. And I think he thought they were the right people to go with. And I think he probably wanted them to enjoy this horse as much as he was at the time, because he was a very impressive maiden winner when he won at Gulfstream.
So when people see that early in a horse's 3?year?old year, it's like, all of a sudden, everybody wants to be part of a horse that is a good horse and has the possibility to go to the Kentucky Derby.
Is that fair to say?
GUINNESS McFADDEN: No, that's exactly what happened. I probably had 10 or 12 offers on the horse. And our goal wasn't necessarily to sell the horse, but I felt like it was ?? Jerry had always told me that it was never my business to own horses that valuable.
You never think you're going to win the Derby, obviously. We took less money to partner with theRoths. And they're a known quantity. Nothing about the other people was bad. We just knew what to expect from them and have known them for ?? I don't know ?? five, six, seven years. And it's been great.
JIM MULVIHILL: Jaime, can you follow up on the opportunity to be part of this?
JAIME ROTH: It happened very organically. We know the McFaddens and Maury and their relationship with Alex and Jason and Alex and Jason's relationship with us. It was just very seamless. And we were presented with an opportunity to buy a piece of the Kentucky Derby champion now. There were a lot of things to like about the horse.
As Bill said after he won that race at Gulfstream, it was very impressive. And we were all in. To have a chance to own a horse like that with such great people, it's what it's all about. And it's been awesome. Even before today, our relationship with the McFaddens has just changed so much and grown stronger. And it's been a really awesome experience.
But it was very organic. It happened very naturally, which I think speaks volumes about them as individuals. Thank you.
JIM MULVIHILL: Alex, I'm sure there was no hesitation on your part. Did you make the call, or who called who?
ALEX SOLIS: You know, I feel really special to be in this spot because I was lucky enough, when Jerry was alive, Guinness put me in the spot to help him out. So when this colt was entered in the September sale, Guinness and I had talked about it. He said, "What do you think?"
I'm like, "Let's sell the filly; keep the colt." Guinness said, "You think so."
I'm like, "Well, let's talk to Jason." We talked to my partner. And Jason was like, "Yeah, are you kidding me? That's a really nice colt."
So Guinness said, "All right. We're going to Jerry." We met in the lunchroom in Keeneland. The week before, he was booked four, I believe. We talked to Jerry. Jerry's like, "Sounds good." There was no fight. I didn't really expect it. I expected there to be a fight, like let's keep the filly. It never happened.
We're here today, and this all because of Guinness and Bill. They've done a great job managing this horse and I'm really proud. (Applause)
Q. Guinness, I know you've been in this industry for a little while. I was curious if you had ever come close to thinking you were going to get to this point before today and what it feels like to finally be here.
GUINNESS McFADDEN: Actually, I was talking with Michael Wallace last year. And he said it was pretty easy to win the Derby. So I thought I would give it a try. (Laughter)
They won the Triple Crown, so we're not quite there yet with him. But, no, I mean, I had never even ?? nobody wins ?? I don't win the Derby. I don't know anyone who has won the Derby. This isn't something that happens to people that I know. So, no, this is not anything I ever expected to happen. But now that it's happened, I think we'd like to do this next year also. (Laughter)
But, yeah, it's completely out of left field.
JIM MULVIHILL: Bill, people think of you as a conservative trainer, but with this horse, right after the Louisiana Derby, maybe ten minutes later, you said, "we'll probably go to Arkansas and try to get the points." Why was there no hesitation there? Obviously, you knew he was special. But talk about pushing a little bit to give the horse the opportunity and get the points.
BILL MOTT: I really felt he was a horse that probably deserved to run in the Kentucky Derby. I mean, I saw him that way early on the winner ?? after we saw him break his maiden. I thought he was well?suited to the mile and a quarter. When he ran in Louisiana, of course, we didn't gain much in the way of points in that race, and we needed some more to ensure a spot in the Derby.
And I said all along, I said, this is a big, tough horse. And I said it's not the style now to go back in three weeks or two weeks or whatever. But I said this horse can do it. I said he's a big ?? he's just big and tough and durable, eats the bottom out of ?? he's a dream for a horse trainer because he's just ?? he's won like they trained in the old days. You know what I mean? You used to see these horses run more often.
I mean, they'd run ?? they'd run in the Derby, and they'd run one time before they ran back in the Preakness. So you don't see those kind of things anymore.
But I think this is probably a horse that's had ?? you know, been brought along from a good, solid pedigree. And he's just ?? he was tough enough to take it.
Q. First of all, congratulations, Flavien. Take us through this. What part of Maximum Security's body hit what part of your horse? And how did that impact your horse? What did that cause your horse to do?
FLAVIEN PRAT: Well, we never made contact because there was horses between us. The horse on my inside hit the hip on my horse, so it kind of turned me sideways. And it's at the 1/4 pole, where actually I was making a run, and I kind of lost momentum.
I think it's not only me but also the horses between Maximum Security and Country House who has been ?? who have been affected.
Q. Flavien sort of touched on it, but it's really important that we get this right. Is it fair to say that it is your contention that the interference that was caused by Maximum Security affected your horse's trip or did not?
BILL MOTT: It may have affected it slightly, but I am going to say that it affected two other horses dramatically. If what happened to us was the only thing they were looking at, I don't think you would have seen a disqualification. But it was mainly the other two horses that got bothered the worst, and they lost all chance. And those two horses lost their opportunity to win or place in the Kentucky Derby.
Q. Flavien, one other point of clarification. Did you lodge the claim of foul, or was it one of the other jockeys inside of you?
FLAVIEN PRAT: Yeah, I did ask or claim foul, because, like I say, I mean, I thought he shift out a lot. And we had been slightly bothered in that incident and also the horse inside of me.
Q. Just take me through your thought process as you were sitting through the review. at what point ?? if you thought all along that you would be moved up or if you were thinking, hey, this is probably a long shot. Just kind of your thought process as you were waiting out the objection, the review.
FLAVIEN PRAT: I was just hoping to get placed as the winner, that was my thought.
Q. Did you think it was going to happen?
FLAVIEN PRAT: It took quite long. And, usually, when it takes so long, it's a good sign. But, I mean, I was not in the steward office, obviously.
JAIME ROTH: Like Bill said, I don't think anyone wants to win the Derby the way that it happened for Country House. But, with that being said, I do think he ran his best race to date besides his maiden race. Obviously, this is a Grade I, not a maiden race.
And, more importantly, I believe in the notion that, while it may not have affected us as much as other horses, if that would be taken down on a Wednesday, I think you need to be consistent and take it down on another day, even if it's the Derby.
Again, it's not the way you want to win. But I'm proud of our horse. I think he ran great. And, more importantly, this sport throws curveballs at you every day. I mean, most of the news is not great news. So you're going to take what you can get and run with it. And I don't think, in any of our eyes, it diminishes what the horse did today. And I think we're all going to sleep well tonight and party hard.
So go, Country House!
JIM MULVIHILL: Bill or Guinness, the female side has some graphs and some off?track pedigree. Do you think that the conditions today moved your horse up?
GUINNESS McFADDEN: I don't know. He seems to like the mud, but I don't know. I was hoping for a fast track. You always want a fast track on Derby day; I wouldn't be so wet right now. But, I mean, obviously, he likes it. I think it's more of a factor of some horses don't like it than him liking it.
BILL MOTT: Yeah, he showed us in the Arkansas Derby that he would run well and close well over that kind of track. Certainly, pedigree has something to do with it. I believe his grandsire is Smart Strike.
Alex, is that correct?
ALEX SOLIS: That's correct.
BILL MOTT: And that's Mr. Prospector line. And I think that's well known to like off?track. I think it's bred in him to take to an off track.
Q. What's your spring been like? You had Omaha Beach; you got off him. Then you win the Derby in a very unusual way. Just emotionally, what's the spring been like for you?
FLAVIEN PRAT: It's been really emotional. Like you say, I was riding Omaha Beach. Well, it turned out that I made a wrong choice. But, at the end, it turns out great, actually.
ALEX SOLIS: I got the call from Flavien's agent, and he said something that really touched home a lot for me. Because I have known Flavien, because my dad works for Richard Mandella, and I've been close to Richard my whole life. And Flavien started coming over when he was working with the Wertheimers. We became friends the whole time.
And Bill had asked him to ride the horse. And Guinness said, "What do you think?" I said, "We're all good. It would be exciting."
And Flavien called, and he was waiting for Fletcher to either tell him yes or no and kind of humoring him. I was like, "Man, I really would like you to ride this horse." And you never call Flavien; I called him.
And Derek called. And he was like, "You know, Flavien said it would mean nothing more to him to ride the Derby for the Roths." That really meant a lot, and I'm really proud to be able to do this together.
FLAVIEN PRAT: Thank you.
Q. Bill, were you a little surprised that the stewards didn't just put up the inquiry sign as opposed to things having to go through the objections?
BILL MOTT: Well, frankly, when I was watching the race, you know what I mean, sometimes you got your eyes on ?? I'm trying to watch two horses in the race plus ?? and it's a big field. So I didn't see exactly what happened.
I mean, I had to look at the film over and over and over myself to really get the real ?? the detail of what happened. One of the other riders in the race was directly behind it. And he said Jose had gotten off of Tacitus. And he said, "You know, there was really a wild incident that took place in front of me," because he had the bird's?eye view of it.
And, you know, then, of course, they start ?? I don't know who claimed foul to begin with, but then they started showing it over and over. And I was in a little room in the tunnel, and I was watching, watching, watching. And I had to watch it a few times. You know, things happen so quickly out there. But the more I watched, the more I thought, you know what? If it was a Wednesday, you know, the third race on the card, this horse is coming down.
Q. This horse wasn't piling up wins this spring. But you knew in the back of your head that its best distance was a mile and a quarter. As a trainer, is that a challenge to keep your confidence in a horse even though he might not be going in the Winner's Circle each time?
BILL MOTT: You got to believe in something. I believe both horses that we ran today were well suited for the mile and a quarter. It was interesting, because we had another horse in the barn, another nicely bred Juddmonte colt that won off by 15 his first time. And he was probably the talking horse, so to speak.
And all the weight was on his shoulders, and everybody wanted to come see him. They wanted to come see him work. They wanted to talk about him. And I said to whoever would listen ?? I know I was ?? Dave Grenning was riding with me. And one day, I said, "Man, they're overlooking these other two horses. These are really the horses that probably are the ones that are really suited for that particular race."
So we were, you know, first and third, as it turns out.
Q. Being that it appears that Country House's effects from the foul were indirect at this point, are you concerned that there may be any litigation related to the results of the race?
BILL MOTT: You know, I didn't even really want to think about that, because that's ?? that's a nightmare. And it's a no?win situation for anybody involved. I spoke to the other trainer walking ?? when he was walking out of the tunnel, Jason Servis. And I didn't get a hint of that from him. I think he's been around it long enough, and I'm sure he watched the films well enough.
I think ?? I think the people that own the horse that crossed the finish line first, they're experienced in the business. And, I mean, they could see what happened.
JIM MULVIHILL: Bill, how was that exchange with Jason?
BILL MOTT: Well, I mean, I said, man ?? you know, exactly what I've told you. This is bittersweet. I know how I'd feel if I was in his shoes, to be able to train a Derby winner and then have the horse taken down. But I think he knows what happened.
Q. You're no stranger to this particular track, and yet you hate for the biggest win of your career to be marred by what you called a bittersweet victory. Other than the race itself, what about this day, this week, this Kentucky Derby experience do you want to remember? What really sticks out in your mind?
BILL MOTT: You know what I enjoy the most is just training the horses. I mean, that's what I live for. Get up in the morning, come out and see the horses. And from the time ?? day after the Arkansas Derby, we were here with all the horses. And we had three great weeks. Everybody trained well. Everybody worked well. Horses breezed well. They were doing good. I couldn't have been more pleased with the way they were trained.
And, like, a week ago, I just ?? you know, I was sitting on the pony, and I was talking to Wayne Lucas. And I said, "Man, I wish they would run this thing tomorrow." You get that feeling when things are going really well, really well, and you haven't had any hiccups or bumps in the road. And it seemed like, man, I just want it to get here.
And then I woke up this morning and I said, "Oh, shit. This is here."
You know what I mean? It's like it's ?? finally, it's here and, all of a sudden, it just snuck up on us. You know what I mean? It seemed like, a week ago, I said that. And then, all of a sudden, today is the day. And it's happened so many times before when you're getting ready for a big race.
But I called my assistant on the way in, and we trained both horses at 5:15 this morning. We took them to the track and gave them an easy ?? a little bit of exercise and easy gallop around the racetrack. And we were almost the only ones out there. I think there was probably only two or three other horses on the racetrack.
You want to get through it. You want to get them around there, get them off the gap. Get them home. Get their bath, get them cooled out, get them in the stall, and get them ready to hang the bridle on them this afternoon.
When you've got good horses, you just want to stay out of their way and just not make stupid mistakes. That's what I do. Number one, unfortunately, we always look for something that's wrong, you know what I mean? When you get up in the morning, you look at the horses and you're trying ?? well, is there something that's not right that we've got to fix or we've got to change? And you hate to be negative about anything but that's kind of what we do. It's nuts and bolts to a certain extent. I mean, we've got to try to see what we've got, what we've got to deal with.
Sometimes it causes you not to be real positive when you talk to ?? talk to people about the horses. Sometimes you don't really ?? you're not able to really talk in a real positive manner because you're always looking for something that is a negative that you've got to straighten out.
So when you finally reach a point where the training goes well, it's actually very memorable. And I think just that part of it, you know, means the most to me.
And you want to have ?? we do this not only for ourselves, I mean, I'd do it because I love horses and I love competition. But I have people that I work for, and it's so very important to me to have them satisfied at the end of the day. And sometimes they probably don't know that. But that's really what it's all about for me.
Q. The Japan Cup in 2010, there was a disqualification. And then they then changed their interference rules. Are you guys happy with the interference rules here in America? And would you like to see them changed on the back of this?
FLAVIEN PRAT: I can't hear you.
Q. Are you happy with the interference of regulations here in America? And would you like America to adopt the worldwide interference rules?
FLAVIEN PRAT: Well, on a day like this, yeah, I'm okay with it. I've been in both situations where I'm the one taken down. Obviously not in the Derby. But I've been in that situation, and it's hard. But, I mean, today I'm really happy with it.
Q. In your view, Bill?
BILL MOTT: Can you explain to everybody the difference between the rules and regulations here and what you're talking about?
Q. I don't know what they are here. There's England, Hong Kong. They have a Category 1 rule where it's more the best horse wins rather than the injured party, the interfered one gets demoted.
BILL MOTT: I think the stewards in Kentucky ?? one day I was at Keeneland. I don't know. This must have been 30 years ago. And I had a horse called Iron Pegasus that got turned sideways at the 1/8 pole. The horse came by and [Bill] Shoemaker was on a horse. And he came by my horse and he literally ?? his horse lugged in and hit my horse and turned my horse sideways. Shoemaker went on to win by seven or eight lengths from the 1/8 pole to the wire. He was a clear winner.
And I was very upset my horse had gotten bothered. I called Mr. Dangerfield. At that time, stewards were very respected. I asked him, I said, "Mr. Dangerfield," I said, "Did my horse not get turned sideways at the 1/8 pole?" He said, "Yes, Mr. Mott, he did." He said, "But we here, the stewards here in Kentucky, have a lot of latitude in these matters." And he said, "Your horse was not going to win that race anyhow." So there was no disqualification on that day.
But I'm not so sure that ?? in that case, I accepted what he said and what he told me. And there's been a lot of other incidents that come into question. But I think in today's race, I think there were two horses that were bothered in that race that you nor I or anybody else in this room can tell us how they were going to finish. And the other two horses got bothered at a very critical point in the race.