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November 1, 2014

Bob Baffert

Martin Garcia

Kaleem Shah


THE MODERATOR:  Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention.  The winner of the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic is Bayern, and we're joined now by, on the left, owner, Kaleem Shah; in the middle, trainer, Bob Baffert.  He's won 11 Breeders' Cup Races.  This is his first win in the Breeders' Cup Classic.  And on the right, Martin Garcia, his third Breeders' Cup win, first Classic.  So, Bob, we'd like to start with you, and just get an initial reaction to the start of the race and tell us what happened at the gate?
BOB BAFFERT:  Well, we knew the break was very important for this horse, and he broke so hard the ground broke under him.  He ducked in on the first jump, so I was like it's either a stumble or that.  So he grabbed him right away, straightened him out, and then he just took control of the race.
From then on, it was just a matter of watching the fractions.  My wife, Jill, was calling out the fractions going, "Oh, he's going too fast."  But he looked comfortable.
The thing about Bayern, once he gets his speed, his brilliance is his weapon.  Down the back, about the 5/8th pole he sort of opened up on him a little bit, and I was thinking, you know, we talked about it before, you need to let him do his thing.  Because that's him.  If you try to slow him down, he's just not effective.  So it was just, I loved everything that was going down.  I thought, he's good enough.
The 9 horse, Toast of New York, he was like, he would not go away.  He was just glued on to him there.  I know he's a really well‑trained horse, and the distance is not going to be a problem for him.
And I watched California Chrome, he was making a good move.  He looked good in the paddock.  I thought right here, he's in front, I said this has been so long waiting, please, lord, you can't take it away from me now.  I was just like almost holding my breath.  I don't think I was breathing the last 20 yards of this race.
When he hit the line there, I was just like exploded.  I mean, it was just so‑‑ for Jill and I and Bode, it was so exciting at that moment.
THE MODERATOR:  Martin, could you tell us about, as you were standing in the gate and also when the gates opened and the first few strides out of there?
MARTIN GARCIA:  Like what he said, the ground broke, and then my horse just broke really sharp.  I just, there was nothing I could do.  I mean, I corrected right away, and then‑‑ but he was pretty clear.
BOB BAFFERT:  The thing about Bayern, his athleticism, he is just so handy on his feet.  We saw that when Gary rode him in New York in that 7th furlong race.  I told Gary, "I don't know what to do with this horse."
And Gary said, "You know what?  I'm going to just let him rip away from there."
I think he showed us that day at Belmont what he did in that 7/8th race and just smoked them.  Right there, we knew what we had.  From then on, putting the blinkers back on him, getting him focused.  But he was way behind these horses, and for some reason, it's hard when you figure these horses out.  But he's just been so golden.
The Saratoga race, I was a little bit‑‑ I probably shouldn't have sent him up there.  He had a huge performance way in the back and going back.  But it's hard to pass it up.  But he came back, and his Philadelphia race, it was no fluke.  He's that good.
But when you have a horse that's a frontrunner, you really can't do a lot of‑‑ you can't brag on them.  You can't be talking them up, because you don't want ‑‑ look at what Game on Dude had to go through there at the end.
But this horse, he just, he's brilliant and he showed it today.  He did it on the major‑‑ this field was just unbelievable.  What a great field it was.
Just like the Sprint race, it was unbelievable.  Secret Circle, he rode a great race.  He just came up short.  But that's what the Breeders' Cup is all about.  To get everybody here.  There is no ducking or diving.  We're all here together.
THE MODERATOR:  The incident at the start, you hate to see anybody not get a chance to run their race.  Can you talk about how it changed the complexion of the race for some of the others?
BOB BAFFERT:  Well, when he broke in like that, I said, "Oh."  And then he got up right away and he was gone.  But right away they cleared, but somebody, the 9 came over and just crushed everybody.  There was probably more going on.  The 9 was doing more crushing back there than we did.  Ours was the first initial start.  Because I thought they were looking at the 9 horse when he came over.  That's what I thought they were looking at.
THE MODERATOR:  Kaleem, congratulations to you.  This is a huge win.  Can you just talk about what it means to you?
KALEEM SHAH:  I tell you what, this past week I've been suffering.  This past week has been very painful for me.  I've been suffering with nerve damage and sciatica nerve issue.  But believe me, as soon as it hit the wire, it automatically cured itself.  So that should tell you a little bit about it.
BOB BAFFERT:  I told him, if he wins, he'll be able to walk normal.  If he loses, we'll have to carry him out of here.
KALEEM SHAH:  I literally could not walk most of the week.  In fact, I didn't even come down to the paddock for the race because I literally could not walk.  But I don't know what happened as soon as he won.  Like it just was a major transformation.
So my whole family's out here.  I'm ecstatic, and certainly me and Bob have put it all together.
BOB BAFFERT:  How about Armond?
KALEEM SHAH:  Armond is along with the others, he's part of the horse.  So certainly elated the family's out here.  Me and Bob won the first two together, we won the Pennsylvania Derby together.  Your first, the San Diego first together, and now the Breeders' Cup Classic.  And I certainly hope lots of good stuff is in store for us.
BOB BAFFERT:  Now we have to win the Derby.
KALEEM SHAH:  We'll take it step by step.
THE MODERATOR:  For both of you, this is the third seven‑figure win of the year.  Where does Bayern fit in the Horse of the Year conversation?
KALEEM SHAH:  To me, certainly he's gone cross country like beating the best, and certainly on the world stage, he's overcome everything and won today.  In my mind certainly he deserves Horse of the Year and 3‑year‑old champion.  So I'll let Bob chime in.
BOB BAFFERT:  I don't understand a word he said, but we're very proud of this horse.  We don't vote, but we're proud of our horse.  He came through on the big day, and that's what matters.  That's why they call it the championship racing.
KALEEM SHAH:  Bob was a champion.

Q.  Bob, are you going to be happy now that we're going to stop asking you about winning the Classic?
BOB BAFFERT:  Well, I mean, we all have something that they have to ask me.  What haven't you done yet, you know?
But I guess the next question is when are you going to be on Dancing With the Stars or something like that, I don't know.

Q.  Considering, like you mentioned, this has been so long in the making, does this trump the Derby wins or is the Derby win still at the top of your list?
BOB BAFFERT:  It's a different vibe.  It's a different vibe totally.  The Derby is pretty special, very emotional.  It's really a different kind of vibe.  But it's just very exciting, and it's more like, you know what?  This is the end of the year.  This is when the championship‑‑ everything's on the line.  This is when they hand out on the championships in the fall.
It's like the World Series, so, hey, we were here.  We ran a lot.  We ran for the whole year.  Couple times there he didn't do well.  Lot of it was my fault in the spots that I picked for him.  But we were trying to get him to the Derby.  We were trying to get him there, and we were just running behind a little bit.
But he just finished up.  He showed today that he's a tremendous horse.  His races were just all‑‑ when he's on, he was just on.

Q.  Bob, the way the track was going early today, speed biased and the closers start coming through, did you have any thoughts about how the track was going to fit Bayern as the race was beginning?
BOB BAFFERT:  Well, if he would have run yesterday, it would have been so much better for us, but with the wet weather earlier in the day and the speed, and I remember in the Juvenile I think everybody just took off because it looked like it was going to be a little speed biased.  I wish I would have just taken ahold of my horse, One Lucky Dane, we were caught up in it.  And Bejarano told me by the time he got to the backside, he though, Oh, this is different.
But it was tiring.  It was drawn out.  It was deep.  So what he did today was even really more impressive, because he really had to dig.  He cut out the fractions.  When he opened up at the 5/8th pole, it was like he really was running, but this is the Breeders' Cup.  You've just got to flaunt your speed.
I told Martin, "You know what?  Make him chase you.  That is his weapon."  And he just showed up.

Q.  Back on the start, Mike Smith was quoted as saying, "I believe it cost me the whole race."  What is your response to that?
BOB BAFFERT:  I think the 9 horse probably came over and did more damage 100 yards out of the gate.  But it's racing.  It's racing luck.  We got completely eliminated in the Preakness, so that happens.  At the start, you can't control the start.  It's nothing that was done‑‑ you don't like to see it.  When he broke in like that, I was like "Oh," you know.  But it's something that I think he got in a lot of trouble.
The 9 horse, after watching the replay, he bottled everybody up down there, so‑‑

Q.  Bob, talk about the future for Bayern?
BOB BAFFERT:  We're just going to freshen him up for Los Alamitos, right (laughing)?
KALEEM SHAH:  Just celebrate tonight and go from there.

Q.  Do you think this horse is going to be back as a 4‑year‑old?
KALEEM SHAH:  Definitely.  He'll race as a 4‑year‑old, 5‑year‑old, and 6‑year‑old, if he can.
BOB BAFFERT:  Kaleem wants to run.  He's here to run.
KALEEM SHAH:  I'm a horse racing fan first, and I know the fans hate it when good horses get retired.  So I'm going to make sure as long as he's sound and Bob tells me he wants to run, he'll keep running.
BOB BAFFERT:  My job is to keep his horses off the farm and at the spa.
KALEEM SHAH:  That's right.

Q.  Also, did you know Bayern had a race like this in him when you retired Game on Dude?
BOB BAFFERT:  I think that race, when he won at Belmont, he really‑‑ that's when the light came on.  Then at the Haskell, he just ‑‑ that was a strong little field, with what he did there.  Then what he did in Philadelphia.  And he kept shipping.  It was like he was shipping to these places.  It wasn't like we were at home.  It's a different feel.
When I went in the paddock today, and when you see the horses in the paddock in the Classic, it's a whole different look.  There are some really good horses in there.  But he's a dirt running horse and he just smoked them today.

Q.  Martin, could you tell us more about the end of the race?  Maybe the last 1/8th mile and trying to hold off Toast of New York?
MARTIN GARCIA:  Well, I tried to open up, but the horse, the 9, just was following me.  When I was moving kind of like outside a little bit, he just started to respond.  He would never go by him.  He was kind of like looked at him and he said, No, you're never going to get by me.  So he just was ready to win today.

Q.  As the week began, your main hope in the Breeders' Cup Races was American Pharaoh, and philosophically, when one door closed another opened in the form of Bayern.  Congratulations.
BOB BAFFERT:  Thank you very much.

Q.  However, given the fact that it's a Classic in the $5 million race.  You normally expect the pace to be hot.  Once Bayern established command, were you surprised how he was able to control the pace?
BOB BAFFERT:  Well, he's so fast, only a really good horse can do something.  What he did today, keep that pace and keep running.  I thought, for sure, somebody was going to be coming running.  But when he runs like he does, it's so fast.  Just his athleticism, he's fast.  If he was a football player, he'd be in the SEC.  I mean, he is fast.

Q.  Is it somewhat of a relief to not have to come up with a game plan for this horse?  You just open the gates and hit the gas pedal?
BOB BAFFERT:  If you look at his chart, there wasn't much of a game plan.  It's just, hey, we're going to go here.  We're going to go there.  We like to race.  The thing is everybody complains well, they don't run their horses enough.  Then when we do run them and they get beat, it's like oh, he's terrible.
So it's like when we took him to Travers, he took care of them.  He just didn't bring it that day, and he got beat 30 lengths, but he took care of them when he knew he had no chance to win or hit the board.
So he came back and we knew.  He came back.  He trained well.  Won the Philadelphia park.  Coming into here was working well.  Everybody just sort of forgot about him.  They just remembered that one race that sticks in their mind.
But it's the element of surprise.  We were ready for them.  When you have a speed horse, like I said, there is no woofing involved in a speed horse.  We were just quiet and got it done.

Q.  Martin has always delivered when he gets the chance to assume one of your top horses.  Can you talk about the job he's done for you?
BOB BAFFERT:  Well, we've established a good relationship.  He knows what I expect from these horses, and he knows them really well.  He really handled it really well today.  I noticed when he came out of the paddock, I could tell just in the last few years how he's matured, and you need‑‑ the more you ride, the better horses‑‑ you learn from the better horses.  Me, as a trainer, I learn from the better horses.  The mistakes, I still make mistakes.
But it's one of those things where I trust him.  If I didn't trust him, he wouldn't be riding these horses.  He knows his horse.  He's great on these fast horses, so that's why Game on Dude, with all the work he's done with my barn, he got to win the Pacific Classic with him.  For him to win on this big stage, he's won a Preakness for me, he's won some big races for me.  If we got beat, we blamed him for it.  So he does well.

Q.  Can you address the depth of the 3‑year‑olds this year with all of these horses in Top 5?
BOB BAFFERT:  Yeah, the 3‑year‑olds were just standouts this year.  They were really‑‑ I mean, Shared Belief, he's a really good horse.  California Chrome, you know, what he did this year.
To have them all‑‑ it's very rare when you have them all lined up in the gate for something like this.  This was it.  Something's got to shake out and that's what happens.  When things shake out, some of us are not happy, and others of us are sad.  We were on the happy end of the shakeout.

Q.  Any chance of Dubai World Cup on dirt?
BOB BAFFERT:  Dubai World Cup?  You'd have to ask my wife, Jill, about that one.  You never know.  You've got to keep it open.
KALEEM SHAH:  Bob may not come, but the horse might make it.  We'll see.
BOB BAFFERT:  I'll take my cardiologist with me.  He's ready.  He wants to go.
MARTIN GARCIA:  What does this win mean to you?
BOB BAFFERT:  It means I won't be yelling at him tomorrow.
MARTIN GARCIA:  It means a lot for me, especially for my career.  I hope a lot of trainers and owners, and I can ride more for them.

Q.  Biggest one in your career?
MARTIN GARCIA:  Yes.  But I think every single win, that's a big win.

Q.  We want to know what time you'll be at the barn tomorrow if people want to check in?
BOB BAFFERT:  I'll be working horses in the morning.
MARTIN GARCIA:  I have a day off.
BOB BAFFERT:  No, you're going to be there.  We've got a big day tomorrow.  We're back to working tomorrow.  So if he's not there, he better be there.
Nothing changes here.  We're going to go back to work and do the same thing we do.  We're going to enjoy this tonight and hope that the University of Arizona beats UCLA tonight.  That's all.  And bode's going to the game.

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