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November 1, 2014

Victor Espinoza

Willis Horton

D. Wayne Lukas


THE MODERATOR:  Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies is Take Charge Brandi, trained by 79‑year‑old Wayne Lukas, the oldest winning trainer in Breeders' Cup history ‑‑
WAYNE LUKAS:  Hey, hey, hey.  What's that all about?
THE MODERATOR:  ‑‑ and most experienced and most brilliant.  He already held that record, but extends it today.  Wayne, of course, is by far the leading trainer in Breeders' Cup history, this is his 20th Breeders' Cup win.
WAYNE LUKAS:  Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:  Wayne, I want to start with you, of course.  Just tell us what gave you the confidence to bring this filly here after a couple disappointed performances and just talk about her fall?
WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, first of all, we never give up on one, especially if they're bred this brilliantly.  She's got such a pedigree, and anytime I think you train a race horse and you see it at some point, you're liable to get it on a given day.
This guy right here has supported me and believed in this filly from day one.  So we agonized a little bit, and he called me up and he said, "Let's go."
So I said, "She's ready, let's go."
So here we are and it worked out.  Doesn't always work out, but it worked out today.
THE MODERATOR:  Even though you don't give up on them, was there anything specific you were seeing in the mornings that told you there was no reason to give up beyond just taking a shot?
WAYNE LUKAS:  I told Willis, she's training better than she ever had, and we were able to get this guy.  I always say in these big races, when it's all up there on the line, the game's on the line, you have to have Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or somebody that's been there, done that, and that's rode the track.
So she's had a number of riders, but we were able to tap him and get him signed up right away, and I can't throw out enough banquets.  I usually give these guys no credit, but today I'm going to give this one a little credit.
VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Thanks, Wayne.
THE MODERATOR:  This is Victor's second Breeders' Cup victory.  Victor, take us through it.  You didn't even have to ask her to go to the lead, she just kind of went for it.
VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Yeah, she had plenty of speed on her own.  But I want to make sure that she breaks sharp and to be able to take the lead.  But saying that not force her too much, not overdo her.  But when she broke nice and she took the lead, I was cruising down the back side.  She was special.  She's a little filly, but she has a lot of talent.
WAYNE LUKAS:  Look how pretty she got away.
VICTOR ESPINOZA:  She got out of there so nicely.  It reminds me, like, the other win I have from Wayne in 2000 with Spain, same size, but big heart.
Turning for home, I was full of horse in there, and I noticed that I‑‑ I discovered something about her that she doesn't like to be hit with the whip.  I touch her just a little bit, and she did not like it.  She put her ears back and she completely feels like she's going to stop at that point.
So I said, okay, you know what?  I'll just leave her alone, and I did not use the whip and I kept riding and she leveled up and kept going.  Never stopped.
WAYNE LUKAS:  He got her away beautiful.  I felt really good after the first 30 yards.  They kind of give you a little space and away you went.
VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Yeah, like Wayne said, Wayne told me, before turning for home, open it up, and that was it.
WAYNE LUKAS:  Dale Romans had a great comment.  I was talking to Victor in the paddock, and I said when you get to the top of the stretch, get a little separation.  And Dale Romans walked over and he was listening to what I was telling Victor, he had the horse right next to us, he said there'll be no separation.
THE MODERATOR:  Mr.Horton, we'd like to hear from you.  Just talk about this filly and what this win means to you today?
WILLIS HORTON:  Well, it's real.  I'm happy to win it.  Proud of the way Victor rode her.  He done a terrific job.  Wayne's done a good job in training her and everything.  And now I get to rejoice for a minute.
The big thing that I really am proud of is that she is a part of the family of the big horse, Will Take Charge.  I'm looking for a great future in this filly, and to go on with her and hope I get to come back to the Breeders' Cup next year.
THE MODERATOR:  That's right, the dam is a half to Will Take Charge, correct?
WAYNE LUKAS:  The dam is a daughter of Will Take Charge's mother.
But Mr.Horton stepped up and bought the filly, the sale topper at Saratoga, which is this filly's half sister also.  So he's deep into the family.
THE MODERATOR:  Wayne, this is not only your 20th Breeders' Cup victory, but your sixth in this race alone.
WAYNE LUKAS:  Oh, really?  I didn't know that (laughing).  No, I didn't.  Honest to God, I didn't.
THE MODERATOR:  So you've also had a penchant for long‑shots.  Just talk in general, over your career, your philosophy with taking shots in big races.  I know you had the confidence in this filly, but this has been a trend in your career.
WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, if you're going to train these horses, these owners, the Willis Hortons of the world, and Bob Lewises and Bill Youngs over the years, and Gene Klein, they want to be in this arena.  They want to win when the whole world is watching.  So if you can do one thing, you might have a few stumbling races going into one of these, but if you can concentrate starting in about August and try to bring it together on the right day and get one of these, it's worth five of the others.  This is where everybody wants to be.  This is where this gentleman believes he's going to get when we pay that kind of money for a filly, and this is where we need to put him.  And that's what we've made a career of doing.
What were the odds on Spain?
VICTOR ESPINOZA:  It was over 100 to 1, too.
WAYNE LUKAS:  She was a long‑shot, and Victor rode her.

Q.  Earlier in the week, you were talking about Take Charge Brandi and you seem very puzzled.  You couldn't figure out what was not going right.  Is this a case of finding out something and figuring it out, or is it just it was her day?
WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, training horses is a day‑to‑day deal.  It's kind of like getting along with your wife.  You have to wake up every day and figure out what works best.  It's okay, Laurie.  We thought she was doing really well, and I told Willis, I said, she's doing really well.  But what you want to see is when you come here and you get a new surface, a new environment, new arena, different crowd and everything, which you know you can't duplicate anywhere, you'd like to see a couple days where she's getting over the racetrack.
I had Victor come out and work her on Monday.  I thought the work was good.  I didn't think it was sensational, but the one thing I liked was the way she was getting over the ground.  So that gave me confidence.
Then from what he did on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday were all better, better, better, better.

Q.  You said Victor was a perfect fit for this horse.  Obviously, he's a great jockey.  What about him and this horse?
WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, here's the thing:  I watched him all spring on California Chrome, and he rides‑‑ and I'm just going to give you my observation of what the hell I think you do best.  He rides a horse's position well.  I thought, A, he would get her away good; he did.  I thought he would not get too creative.  I don't like to have him get too creative on my horses.  I like just kind of ‑‑ Shoemaker told me years ago, be the best passenger you can be.  Don't try to get too creative.  Don't try to make things happen unless you have to.  And he does that very, very well.
Once he was turning up the backside, I said to Brady Lukas, my grandson, I said we're going right along, but we looked up in the screen and those ears were going like that and I thought we're okay yet.  As long as she's enjoying it, we're all right.

Q.  Can you talk about the future of this horse?  What is the future of this horse?
WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, the future is unlimited because of the pedigree, for one thing.  This is a pedigree that breeders will lineup for, and that doesn't mean Willis is going to sell her.  But on the other hand, I think our ultimate goal would try to be in one of these big ones again, and that would be the Kentucky Oaks.  We'll spend the whole winter trying to get there.

Q.  Mr.Lukas, you spring the big upset on the first race here on Saturday.  It's 30 years since the first Breeders' Cup.  We have the new surface, would you consider after this win running at Santa Anita amore often?
WAYNE LUKAS:  We won the first one two years ago, I think.

Q.  With your success here, do you think about running here more often?
WAYNE LUKAS:  Well, you can't win them all, unless you win the first one, I guess, is the answer to that.  We're looking forward to a big 8th race.  We really are.

Q.  The No. 20, was that kind of a magic number that's been in your head for a while?
WAYNE LUKAS:  No, not necessarily.  The beautiful thing about this whole game is that of those 20, almost all of them‑‑ there are very few that were duplicated.  Gene Klein had a run.  Bill Young had a run.  Now the Hortons are enjoying this.  So I've been there 20 times.  Willis is there once, right?  So that's the beauty of it.  We put those people in that position to have this kind of excitement and joy.
We'll be back.  We're not going to retire very quick.  I'm glad I got this one out of the way, and we're going to get another one.  What is the filly's name?
WILLIS HORTON:  No, the next one.
WAYNE LUKAS:  Take Charge Tressa the next one.  That is the half sister to this one.  We're already looking ahead to next year.  What can I say?

Q.  At 79, by far you are the top trainer of many races at the Breeders' Cup.  Stretching your memory, how sweet is this accomplishment?  I mean, are you getting more pleasure as you get older?
WAYNE LUKAS:  I think so.  I really do.  The last girl you dance with is always the one you take home and you feel the best about.
WILLIS HORTON:  He keeps getting funnier (laughing).
WAYNE LUKAS:  I enjoyed this.  I think I showed more‑‑ normally I get really analytical watching it, but today I hugged my grandson, I hugged everybody that was standing there.  And I normally don't do that, but this was special because of this guy right here.

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