From Churchill Downs:
An Interview With:
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the winning connections from Kentucky Derby 139. This is such an incredible group, it's hard to know where to start, and you know all the players. Joel Rosario, winning his first Kentucky Derby, completing his complete takeover of the state of Kentucky, which has lasted about six weeks. He won five races here on opening night and he's won the Derby, so he just owns us. A guy who's been around here a little longer than that, trainer Shug McGaughey, Lexington native who hasn't tried the derby very often but now he's got one with Orb today, and Shug, the entire state of Kentucky is thrilled for you.
And the owners, two of the most distinguished names in thoroughbred racing, Stuart Janney III, Dinny Phipps, of the great Phipps Stables in New York, again, some of the great, great owners in the history of thoroughbred racing in America, and they win their first Kentucky Derby. It's a tremendously feel-good Derby, I think. Let's start with Shug because, again, being a native Kentuckian, a long time ago when I was a radio reporter, I've never forgotten this conversation we had, it was when Easy Goer was here, and you mentioned one morning you trained here in Kentucky and of course went up to join the Phipps Stable, and you said I spent a lot of rainy cold mornings over here looking over at those twin spires and thinking about the big day. I guess it's fitting you finally won one on kind of a rainy day, but talk about what it means to you to have completed this patient quest you've had to win this race in your home state.
SHUG McGAUGHEY: Obviously it's a huge, huge thrill for me. It's a race I've always wanted to win, a race I've always wanted to compete in if I thought I had the right horse, and finally today we had the right horse.
I don't know what it will be like tomorrow morning when I pinch myself and figure all this out, but there's a lot of people to thank and I'm just the guy that pushed the button, but with Stuart and Dinny and the people in my barn, put so much time and pride into Orb as well as all the rest of them, they're the real key, and like I say, I'm the lucky one that gets the accolades and the trophy.
THE MODERATOR: You're not a chest thumper, never have been, but you had a real quiet confidence coming into this week, and whatever you had you're going to get, and you thought you had a pretty good one.
SHUG McGAUGHEY: Well, I was, but I said to myself when this all got in the process, that I was going to go over there and have fun, and I've been excited. I was excited today a lot more than being nervous, and I did think I had the right horse. He'd done everything well. He did everything well all winter. We shipped him up here, all that went well. He seemed to get over the track. Every day we trained him, he got over the track good.
He had a great workout here on Monday and he was terrific in the paddock today and post parade and going in the gate, and so when they swung the latch, I thought to myself, just enjoy the race. If it works, it works, if it doesn't, it doesn't. Luckily it did work today.
THE MODERATOR: Mr. Phipps, you've tried a few times here, really not that many.
DINNY PHIPPS: Not that many, but we've tried to win it before with some favorites.
THE MODERATOR: How does it feel?
DINNY PHIPPS: I think it's terrific, absolutely wonderful. It's really the culmination of horse racing, and I am thrilled to be here today.
I would like to say one thing. I started coming around here in 1957 with my grandmother when she had Bold Ruler, and there was a gentleman here who was awfully nice to me, and every time I've been here since that time, he was always very nice to me, and the last 20 years I've seen him at the Masters and I didn't see him this year. But Furman Bisher is one of my favorite people, and Furman covered this with distinction for many years until he died, and I just wanted to say that.
THE MODERATOR: He would be smiling and I'm sure he is. Mr. Janney, your thoughts? You've had wonderful, great horses, your family had the great Ruffian, of course. How does it feel to accomplish this in partnership with the Phippses?
STUART JANNEY: Well, I think that's the way to look at it. This horse's bloodline goes back to our grandmother, and Dinny's father was very instrumental in getting me to take over my parents' horses 20-some years ago. And so I just couldn't be more delighted that we're doing this together.
I remember when Shug was inducted into the Hall of Fame that he said at the end of his speech, I really would like to win a Kentucky Derby for Stuart or Dinny, and I thought, well, that's a good sign because we don't want him laying down after he gets in the Hall of Fame. (Laughter).
So we like thinking forwardly. But I think he's been very smart to pick one of the horses in the barn that the two of us own together so he doesn't have to worry about that particular promise with one disappointed owner and one very happy owner.
THE MODERATOR: Let's go to the rookie in this group, Joel Rosario, unquestionably the hottest rider in the country, and since you've come to Kentucky this spring it's unbelievable what you've accomplished. You've won the biggest race of them all. Talk about what this means to you and talk a lit about the trip with Orb today.
JOEL ROSARIO: To me it means a lot. I'm very happy for Shug, you know, than for myself. I had a perfect trip. He was really calm, very relaxed, and I think Shug did a really good job with him. Sometimes he can be a little handful but he was perfect today. It worked out perfect.
Q. Joel, you've taken over two horses that have really brought you huge success. Can you talk about the fate that brought you first to Animal Kingdom and taking Johnny's place on this horse?
JOEL ROSARIO: You see this man right there? That's my agent. He's the one to make all the calls, so he's been doing very good for me, and he's a great agent. I kind of feel like after I got him, things went really well for me. I'm really happy about it.
THE MODERATOR: The agent is Ron Anderson, by the way.
Q. Shug, could you talk, please, about winning it for this team and what it means for you, please?
SHUG McGAUGHEY: Well, it is a huge thrill. I mean, the Phippses and Janneys, has been my whole life for 20 some years now, and have really kind of given me everything I've got. I'm so appreciative to them. I'm extremely proud to be able to work with people such as this. To bring a day like today into their -- into all our lives is just a huge, huge thrill for me. All I can do is just say thanks for the opportunity.
Q. Shug, two-part question. You said the other day that you wonder what it'll be like to wake up as the Kentucky Derby winner. Do you expect to sleep tonight, and how do you think it'll change your life?
SHUG McGAUGHEY: Well, the way it's going to change my life is I'm not going to have to worry about it anymore, because I've worried about it for a while. And I might not let anybody know that, but inside that thought was always there. Like I said, it's a huge thrill for me. I appreciate all the people who were pulling for us over the last -- especially the last month or something since the Florida Derby, and we decided to come here.
You know, the people that are behind me at the barn and stuff is where the real thrill is, and my hat's off to them.
Q. Are you going to sleep tonight?
SHUG McGAUGHEY: I'll sleep tonight. I might wake up early, but I'll sleep.
Q. Shug and Mr. Phipps, today's weather kind of reminded me at least of 1989 when it was cold and wet and Easy Goer didn't have the best of days. Did that enter into your mind at all when you came out here today?
SHUG McGAUGHEY: It did mine. I said, a day like today might have cost me one Kentucky Derby, maybe it'll turn around and help us today. But I did make the comment a couple times today. I said, I've come to the Derby two times, which I thought I had great big chances, and it rained both times.
The rain wasn't quite as wet today as it was in 1989.
Q. Mr. Phipps and Mr. Janney, could you talk about the breeding, the thought that went into the mating?
STUART JANNEY: You're asking me the question? I didn't like the mare, and I tried to persuade my cousin to sell her, and I've done that before when Super Saver won here a couple years ago. But he outsmarted me and bread him out with Malibu Moon, and here I am.
Q. What was the thought that went into it?
STUART JANNEY: Well, this mare had had a difficult sort of production history, and maybe one colt that really was pretty much a disaster, and then a decent horse, a nice horse but not a really top horse.
And so Dinny was a little bit impatient about what was going on.
DINNY PHIPPS: I wanted to sell her. (Laughter.)
STUART JANNEY: But I have to say that Seth Hancock was very helpful in taking my side of the argument because he said, look, she's a good-looking mare, she's by Unbridled. Unbridled is getting to be a good brood mare sire, and we need to give her some more chance. I come from Maryland, Malibu Moon had been in Maryland, he certainly had a reputation in Maryland but that's as a regional sire. I certainly was interested in him, and I kept saying to Seth, what about Malibu Moon, and there was one year where he said not yet. And then the next year I raised Malibu Moon as something we ought to do, and he said I think he has shown he's a top sire, and we've seen that he is, in fact, a top sire. That's pretty much it.
And with Orb it was pretty clear that you had by far the best-looking offspring from this particular mare. That didn't mean that we'd be sitting here, but at least it was a step in the right direction.
SHUG McGAUGHEY: One thing, when Stuart got his breeding list back from Seth this fall, he showed it to me and on there was Lady Liberty, Malibu Moon, if you think Orb is good and some other horse isn't, we found out today Orb is good, so that worked.
Q. Shug, you're a guy that doesn't often show his emotions. What's going on inside of you right now?
SHUG McGAUGHEY: I'm a little emotional. You know, this is just a great huge thrill for me, to be able to even participate with -- ever since I've been over here, I'm just thankful to have had the opportunity to have a chance to win and to be able to go over there and win and to be able to sit back and watch how much Mr. Phipps came to Payson Park on the Monday before the Florida Derby to watch Orb work, Stuart was there two or three times over the winter, but to see the kids at the barn and how much fun they were having and how well they were participating in this together, you know, that was what was so much fun for me. I would get up and drive to Payson Park when he was going to work or even Sunday morning after the Florida Derby, just had things to do up there, but I also wanted to see him and how he came out of the race and all that kind of stuff.
But it's just been -- this whole trip has been just something that's been different for me. I don't know, maybe the last five or six weeks has been about as exciting a five or six weeks as I've had, and to come over here the last 12 days and experience what we've experienced, from the fans and from the people to see this horse thrive the way that he's thrived and to get to this afternoon, to come over here today and hear the fans and then to see the horse run the race he rode, it's just something I can't really put into words.
Maybe one day when I settle down I'll be able to put it into words, but right now I can't.
Q. Joel, how did you feel about the track conditions, and what did you think about your position on the final turn?
JOEL ROSARIO: Well, when I brought him over, I know he's the kind of horse, I know he keeps going, and I can see he can catch the horse in front really quick. As soon as I passed the last horse sometimes he likes to pull himself a little bit and kind of get after him a little bit, and he was going along well. It all worked out good.
Q. Shug, before you had talked about how the horse continued to improve, obviously he took a huge step forward today. Have we seen his best yet?
SHUG McGAUGHEY: I still think there's something there. I think there's more there. I don't think we've bottomed out. I think he's still learning how to run a little bit. All winter we saw that same thing. He would make the lead like he would go off and would kind of ease himself out. His allowance race, Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby, and even today when he made the lead kind of thing, Joel did the right thing by sort of letting him drift out a little bit to see that horse come, and then he went on and finished.
But I've seen some things that make me think that there is more there. What he was doing in Florida he was doing against a huge bias, and Gulfstream is such a speed-favoring track, and for him to be able to win there on that track, even though he was training as good as a horse could train, when I ran him in the allowance race on January 28th I didn't know whether he could win or not, just because of the speed bias of the track. And then we come to the Fountain of Youth and we catch really a fast pace, which a lot of times at Gulfstream those horses will carry, and we were able to beat a nice horse in Violence and come back in the Florida Derby and catch no speed, where we had to put him in the race, when he pushed the button, he was there, in fact he got there so quick that he kind of throttled him back because he didn't want to make the lead that much, and then to see what I saw today was just -- was something different, and I think that -- I think we've got our hands on a pretty special horse.
Q. Shug, could you discuss what you were thinking at different stages of the race? Were you ever concerned about where he was or maybe when Normandy Invasion took the lead did you feel he was where he needed to be?
SHUG McGAUGHEY: When Normandy Invasion made the lead, I could see he was making his run, so I thought maybe we were going to get to that part of it.
Well, you know, watching, I thought Joel did a great job after the break of sort of getting him in position to go around the first turn, which I think is very, very vital here in the Derby with all those horses, and then going down the backside, you know, I mean, he was back. Even Larry the announcer called and said he's got a lot of work to do. He's 15 lengths back. But when he punched the button he was there.
I knew when we left the quarter pole we were going to have a big chance, whether -- it was the same thing in the Fountain of Youth, when he wasn't on the TV, and then when I picked him up he was coming to the quarter pole and I thought he's going to have a chance because he's going to go on and finish. That's the way I felt today, and I will say I got a little bit -- when I knew he was kind of turning himself off a little bit when he made the lead, I did get a little bit kind of antsy there for a minute, but he kind of made up for that and did go on and finish, and I watched him in the replay here and he finished probably a little bit better than I thought he had watching it in person.
But that happens quite a bit, that you see a lot more when you're watching the replays than you can in person. You're wanting that finish line to come.
Q. Shug, what's impressed you about the way Joel is performing right now, the run he's on?
SHUG McGAUGHEY: Well, I never met Joel until last July probably, and we started watching him a little closer maybe when he got to Saratoga and put him on Orb. I think first two or three horses he rode we were like second or third or something. I remember kidding him, we've got to win one one of these days. Then I think we won one. I think we won a couple in a row.
But I knew watching him that once he got back to the -- once he's ridden here on the East Coast for a little while he was going to catch on. It's a little bit different out here than it is in California because there's not quite as much emphasis on speed, but then this winter to have the meet that he had at Gulfstream this winter, just coming in there first time, riding over that track for the first time, and then to go into Keeneland, I guess that's the first time you were there the whole time, wasn't it?
JOEL ROSARIO: Yeah.
SHUG McGAUGHEY: Going in there to set a record and coming over here and riding Saturday night and we win five races, and he rode a horse for us here last Tuesday and she finished second, so he had two seconds that day, and he said, I guess I need to go home and look myself in the mirror.
To be young, energetic, very ambitious young rider like Joel is, and to see the race he rode today, a race like this with maybe not quite as much experience as some of the others, it just shows you what he is.
Q. Shug and Joel, we've seen big closing kicks win this race before, but they seem to tend to hug the rail. Was it a conscious decision to kind of be out in the middle of the track and go the overland route?
JOEL ROSARIO: Question for me? Can you repeat the question?
Q. When we've seen big closing moves they've tended to hug the rail, stick to the rail and you seemed to be out in the middle of the track. Was that a deliberate decision to stay out in the middle?
JOEL ROSARIO: Yes, and with me and my agent and Shug, we talked about it, try to save the ground the first turn, and then after that Shug was talking to me he's probably better to be on the outside, and that's why it was time to -- always trying to save ground the first turn and after we passed the three-quarter pole to be able to stay on the outside. Hopefully they were not pushing me wide. But I was perfect, I thought, where I was, and it worked out good.
Q. Mr. Phipps, a follow-up on one of the breeding questions before. You mentioned Super Saver and having sold Super Charger I believe it was. Was it tough to watch him win the race after you had sold the mare and had you guys owned the mare together?
DINNY PHIPPS: You know, we all have to sell a lot of horses. People like to buy things that win. No, she was gone, and couldn't do anything about that.
Q. Was it hard to watch --
DINNY PHIPPS: No.
Q. Is this a certain kind of way to do business in this industry, to prepare horses, to get ready, or am I reading too much into it? Do you feel like you do things like an old-school way, or am I just extrapolating because of how long --
STUART JANNEY: Can I answer that instead of Shug? He does it the right way.
Q. Can you explain a little what the right way is?
STUART JANNEY: Explain what the right way is? Take your time. Let the horse bring you to the race.
Q. That leads perfectly into my question for Shug. Can you just talk about your training philosophy, about so many times we hear you have to let the horse take you here. Can you explain what that means and why you believe it's important to be patient with your young horses?
SHUG McGAUGHEY: Well, basically it's the way I do it, and that's the way I'm comfortable doing it. I do a lot from watch and feel. I'm not a vacation guy. I like to be at the barn, and that's where I'm comfortable, and that's where I want to be, and that's the way I sort of monitor things. I like to watch the horses train, and if I don't feel like they're doing things exactly the way I want them to do, then I basically don't run them.
And I also do know, because of the experience that I've had in watching, is that sometimes if you force a horse into a race and you make a mistake, it's a big mistake, and I've also seen, just like with Point of Entry, having to scratch him today, when we run him back the next time, all that'll be forgotten. Even though I was disappointed we had to, I know we did the right thing. But there's always another race. There's always a race down the road. You don't have to make one at the expense of others, and that's what I try to base myself on.
A lot of these horses are not bred to be really fast. I mean, I was talking to the Niall Brennan that does our two year olds now, we were going over, and he said, now, Shug, these colts aren't going to be Belmont Colts. He said, they're going to be Saratoga or fall type of horses at Belmont, so that's kind of what we got, and I'm very, very comfortable training that way. That's the way -- kind of the way I learned, and through mentors and through watching and learning myself. And I'm lucky I've got people that are patient with me and don't try to, for lack of a better word, interfere, and give me the leniency to do what I want with them without any interference whatsoever.
When we talk about the horses or racing stuff, we have a discussion, and that's the extent of it. I mean, when Mr. Phipps called me yesterday and was talking about the rain and Point of Entry, I said, well, I'll have a little time after one race to come talk to you. He said, you don't have to come talk to me; it's your call. And that's the way it is.
DINNY PHIPPS: But he called me anyway.
Q. Joel, when you're on the kind of hot streak you are right now, and you're going into a race like this, talk a little bit about your mindset and your confidence going into a race of this magnitude.
JOEL ROSARIO: Well, the first race I won by one, and I go there and try 100 percent and try to look at the form, look at how does my horse like to run. You have to put it together and really be available to see how the horse likes to run.
Q. Shug, having a chance to finally get a chance to look at the replay, how do you think his style sets him up for two weeks from now or the last two legs of the Triple Crown?
SHUG McGAUGHEY: To tell you the truth, I can't wait. You know, we'll just have to go back and monitor him, and I think he'll come out of this race good. He's been coming out of his other races good. In fact, it surprises me a little bit how well he's come out of his races, especially in Florida. It was hot down there. And earlier you'd kind of have to nag him and keep him interested and that sort of stuff, where it maybe wasn't quite as short a run as maybe today was.
We're set up better than anybody, and if everything is right, I can't wait to get to Preakness and do it again.
Q. Mr. Janney, again, assuming this is going to lead to Preakness, as someone from the area, Stuart, what will this mean to you to be a Derby-winning owner going to Preakness?
STUART JANNEY: Well, obviously these are very, very important races, and the Preakness is important to me. I grew up around it, went there all the time. So if he's -- if Orb is doing well, comes out, as Shug says, then obviously that's the next stop. So that's great as far as I'm concerned. We thought years ago that we had Coronado's Quest all geared to go to Baltimore, and unfortunately a day beforehand he decided he wanted to be lame for about six hours.
So I think if Orb is right, then we'll probably be there.
Q. Shug, just wondering, for a normal race how many times you'll watch a replay and how many times you're going to watch this and how much will be analyzing it and how much just enjoying it?
SHUG McGAUGHEY: Well, I've looked at it enough up here right now to analyze it, but I will watch it for enjoyment. But I will say I'm going to watch this one quite a bit, I think. But I'm not really wanting to watch too many of them over again, win or lose. But this one is maybe a little more special than any of them.
I enjoyed watching him run today on TV because he was getting over the ground so well, he was in such a good flow, and to be able to watch it again up here just makes it that much more fun.
Q. Joel, two parts. How old were you when you first watched the Kentucky Derby, and when did you first start dreaming about winning it? And how much do you love the state of Kentucky right now?
JOEL ROSARIO: Maybe forever, right? I remember watching Funny Cide when he won the Kentucky Derby, José Santo.
This race is really special. You can see all these people, I mean, it's something really unbelievable to see. Like right now I feel like I win the Kentucky Derby, it's like a dream. I feel so good right now, I can't explain to you how I feel.
Q. Shug, how did you happen to make the jockey change in the first place to Joel, away from him, and then to get back to him again?
SHUG McGAUGHEY: Well, the change for the Fountain of Youth was just sort of maybe a mistake on my part, not wholly (laughter), but maybe a little bit. But I knew going in that there would be -- that there could be a conflict. I knew where I was going to go.
It might even could have worked in my favor because the Dubai World Cup was the same day and Joel went over there and rode in that. If he'd have ridden him in the Fountain of Youth I might not have had him for the Florida Derby, and I would have had to change. I don't know that but I've thought about it a time or two. But there was never any doubt in my mind who I wanted when it came up again.
Ron was in touch with me, and he knew where I stood, too, and I've been tickled to death with it, with the decision, ever since Ron and I put it back together because I knew how well Joel was doing, and I knew how well he'd ridden before he knew the horse, and whenever you can get with somebody that's on a roll like he is, you've got to feel pretty good.
Q. Do you keep him here or go on to Baltimore with him?
SHUG McGAUGHEY: He's going to New York tomorrow.