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147TH BELMONT STAKES


June 3, 2015


Bob Baffert

Javier Castellano

Jerry Crawford

Victor Espinoza

Todd Pletcher

Dallas Stewart

John Velazquez

Ahmed Zayat


ELMONT, NEW YORK

THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Without further ado, it is time for us now to draw the post positions for the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes.  No changes on your sheet.  All the horses on there are the ones in the entry box.
We start with No. 4, Frammento.  Owned by Mossarosa.  Trained by Nick Zito, with Mike Smith, the jockey, Frammento is No. 4 in the Belmont Stakes.
Post position No. 5 is American Pharoah, the winner of the Derby and Preakness owned by Zayat Stables, trained by Bob Baffert, with Victor Espinoza, will break from position No. 5 in the Belmont.
No. 1 is Mubtaahij, owned by Essafinaat, trained by Mike de Kock, with Irad Ortiz, Jr..  Mubtaahij will be No. 1 in the Belmont.
Post position No. 7 goes to Keen Ice, for Donegal Racing, trainer Dale Romans and jockey Kent Desormeaux.  Keen Ice is No. 7.
No. 8 is Materiality, owned by Alto Racing, trained by Todd Pletcher, with John Velazquez.  Materiality, post 8 for the Belmont.
No. 3, Madefromlucky, owned by Cheyenne Stables and Mac Nichol and trained by Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano will ride Madefromlucky out of post position No. 3.
No. 2 is Tale of Verve.  Owned by Charles Fipke.  Trained by Dallas Stewart, with Gary Stevens.  Tale of Verve is No. 2.
And No. 6 is Frosted.  Owned by Godolphin Racing.  Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin with Joel Rosario to ride Frosted from post position No. 6.
And now your morning line odds from Eric Donovan going in alphabetical order.  American Pharoah, 3 to 5.  3 to 5 on American Pharaoh.
Frammento, 30 to 1.  30 to 1 on Frammento.
Frosted is the second choice, 5 to 1.  5 to 1 on Frosted, the second choice.
Keen Ice is 20 to 1.  20 to 1 on Keen Ice.
Madefromlucky, 12 to 1.  12 to 1 on Madefromlucky.
Materiality, third choice at 6 to 1.  6 to 1 on Materiality.
Mubtaahij, 10 to 1.  10 to 1 on Mubtaahij.
And Tale of Verve, 15 to 1.  15 to 1 on Tale of Verve in the Belmont.  So those are the post positions and morning line odds for the Belmont Stakes.  And I will bring Andy Serling back now, and he's going to talk to the participants in this year's Belmont.  Thanks, everyone.
ANDY SERLING:  Thanks a lot everybody.  I want to thank everybody for joining us.  And we're very pleased to have connections from many of the horses in this Belmont Stakes.  And nobody more so obviously than the connections of American Pharoah.  And we're going to bring up individually quite a few of them.  And we'll start out with the trainer, Bob Baffert.
I saw you guys were pretty excited by the post position.  Talk a little bit about that if you can.
BOB BAFFERT:¬† I don't really think there was like a horrible post position.¬† But we just‑‑ I've always liked the 5.¬† It's been a number that I always do well with.
I think more important is that the horse is doing well and that's the most important thing.  And so far he looks like he's doing great.  So we still have to get around there.
ANDY SERLING:  You got your first chance to get over to the Belmont track this morning.  A little bit wet.  Everything seemed fine?
BOB BAFFERT:¬† Yeah, he just jogged.¬† He went around there, didn't get a feel for it.¬† So ‑‑ he went the wrong way, so he really didn't learn a lot.
ANDY SERLING:  This is the fourth time that you've been in this position to possibly win the Triple Crown.  Have you done anything differently or any of the past attempts?  Have you learned anything from that that you're hoping to use to maybe perhaps win this one finally?
BOB BAFFERT:¬† No.¬† I think all those horses, they were different, physically.¬† The one that was‑‑ the only one that won here was Point Given who is a really big horse.¬† And he was, we knew going in that he was doing really well and he was the, going in I knew he was probably‑‑ he had an edge on him.
ANDY SERLING:  Now a mile and a half is obviously the great unknown for the horses going in this race.  How confident are you that the mile and a half is not going to be a problem for American Pharoah.
BOB BAFFERT:¬† I think we don't know until it happens.¬† I mean, mile and a half is a very rare race for most of those three‑year‑olds and for me.¬† And so we're just going to get him ready and if he's great, he'll get it done.
ANDY SERLING:  You've had so many great achievements, winning pretty much every horse race in your racing career, would this be for you, obviously, a Triple Crown, a crowning achievement, would you feel that way?
BOB BAFFERT:¬† I don't even know how I'm going to feel about it.¬† It's just something that I don't think about it because it's still‑‑ I know how tough it is and so I never get ahead of myself.¬† I know I want to win it for the horse.
I think the horse is deserving of it, what he's done this year, and he's an exciting horse to watch.¬† And he's an exciting horse for me to train.¬† He's just very‑‑ the way he does things easily, and so and there's a lot of pressure.¬† Is that trophy 37 years old?¬† I've always wondered about that.¬† Because it looks in really great shape.¬† It's just something‑‑ I don't think about it.¬† Right now we just want to stay focused, keep the horse happy, healthy and have a great team around me.
So we're just enjoying New York now.  We've got a few days to go.  It's nice to be in the city.  New York, it just amazes me every time I come here, and it's a lot of fun.  And so there's a really good vibe behind this horse.  So I really am just going to enjoy it from here on out.
ANDY SERLING:  Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule and joining us here.  And obviously we wish you the best of luck.
BOB BAFFERT:  Thank you.
ANDY SERLING:¬† As Bob talked about the team here, it's a great team effort.¬† No more so than the rider Victor Espinoza.¬† We're happy to have Victor here.¬† If you wouldn't mind coming up I'll ask you‑‑ you're not getting off that easily.¬† Get up here.¬† Victor Espinoza, the rider of American Pharoah.¬† Are you happy or concerned about the draw?
VICTOR ESPINOZA:  I'm very happy with the draw.  No. 5 is a pretty good number.  But I come here with not that much nervous for the post.  I think either number it would be good.
ANDY SERLING:  You were here just a year ago with California Chrome.  Can you believe that just a year later you have this opportunity again, this amazing opportunity?
VICTOR ESPINOZA:  No, but I'm here again.  I come here twice and I'm feeling lucky this year.  Third time is a charm.  All right, Bob?
ANDY SERLING:  Can you compare at all American Pharoah and California Chrome?
VICTOR ESPINOZA:  No, they're two different horses.  Both have tremendous talent, but all different.  And American Pharoah he's always special.  The first time Baffert put me on it was special.
ANDY SERLING:  Your experiences last year, you've been here as well.  Have you learned anything from it, are you approaching it pretty much the same way?
VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Yeah, I'm learning not to lose this time.
ANDY SERLING:  Do you want to reveal anything about your tactics or are you and Bob keeping that under your hats?
VICTOR ESPINOZA:  I'm not sure right now.  I still have to talk to Baffert, see what's going to happen, what we're going to do in the race.
ANDY SERLING:  Thank you so much for coming up here.  We wish you the best of luck and thanks for joining us.
VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Thank you.
ANDY SERLING:  That's a big team with American Pharaoh, and the owner, Ahmed Zayat is here with his kids.  And we'll bring him up with his kids and as well as Justin, who is the star of the show anyway.  Always the star of the show.  We're very happy, warm welcome to Ahmed Zayat as well as his son Justin Zayat.
You guys enjoying this Triple Crown run?
AHMED ZAYAT:  So far, yes, it's an absolute thrill in the Big Apple and our state.  So we're very blessed, proud and happy.
ANDY SERLING:  Now, you've had a number of horses do well in the Triple Crown races, Nehro second in the Derby.  And Pioneerof the Nile as well, and none more so probably than Bodemeister who took such tough beats.  And then you followed with Paynter losing the Belmont the same year.  Did you feel like I'm never going to get back here I've had these chances and it's amazing you get back to this incredible spot?
AHMED ZAYAT:  Yes.
ANDY SERLING:  You want to expand on that, Justin?
JUSTIN ZAYAT:  I saw Johnny Velazquez before and I said you already beat me in the Belmont once, let's not try that again.
But we're just happy to be back.  We're really blessed to make it here with American Pharoah.  In my wildest dreams if you told me last year, I really thought California Chrome was going to pull it off.  I was really rooting for him.  If you told me a year later, Justin, you will be in that position, I would have told you, Andy, you're the craziest guy in the world.  So we're blessed to be here right now and we're just enjoying the ride.
ANDY SERLING:  As you know, I wouldn't have told you that at any point.  Ahmed, I know you've been known to make a bet or two on races.  If you were involved with this horse, and betting the race, how would you be betting it?
AHMED ZAYAT:  It's a tough question.  I think it's going to be a rider's race.  It's a small, quantity, very talented field.  I personally think that this year crop is unbelievably talented and every horse deserves to be there.  I'm a horse fan before anything else and I have tremendous respect to a lot of them.
And again, it's going to be a rider's race.  Going a mile and a half, nobody have won that distance.  They're very young.  I'm confident in the ability of American Pharoah, because the horse is giving me that confidence.
I'm not arrogant about it.¬† I think he's a special horse.¬† What makes him special in my opinion is the way he moves.¬† He's an absolute‑‑ he's the best‑moving horse I've ever seen.
And he does everything so easy for him.  And I think his stride and the way he's going to carry himself will allow him to get any kind of distance.
So I happen to think that we are coming in the best we could.¬† Bob did a brilliant job, as well as the entire team preparing him.¬† The horse looks very healthy, happy‑‑ weight wise, coat wise, we're going in with no excuses.
It's an incredible feeling to go in confident that you have the horse to beat.
ANDY SERLING:  Thank you very much for that very honest assessment.  Justin, did you manage to pass all your finals during this Triple Crown period?  I read in the paper you have a lot of tests and you're certainly missing a lot of school.
JUSTIN ZAYAT:¬† I made it through.¬† I graduated the Wednesday‑‑ actually the Wednesday after the Preakness.¬† So it was a little bit of distraction, but it was a good distraction.
ANDY SERLING:  We appreciate that a lot.  We hope that we see a good race for American Pharoah and we hope we can get you to come to Saratoga afterwards.  Any chance that happening?  I know you guys will be there.
AHMED ZAYAT:  Sports without any stars is not a sport.  And we'll race him as long as he remains healthy, happy and we can do it.  Horse comes first.
ANDY SERLING:  Absolutely.  Thanks a lot.  Believe it or not there's other horses in the Belmont Stakes.  And a man who has two horses in the Belmont Stakes is trainer Todd Pletcher.  Todd is here as well as riders for the horses.  I'd like to bring Todd up for a few minutes to answer questions.  Todd Pletcher.  Todd trains Materiality as well as Madefromlucky.
Materiality‑‑ you're always peeking at my notes.¬† Materiality and Madefromlucky have complementary running styles:¬† Materiality, his speed, and Madefromlucky a closer.¬† Do you think they complement each other well in this race?
TODD PLETCHER:¬† I think they do.¬† I'd envision Materiality being close to the pace and Madefromlucky maybe in mid‑pack.
ANDY SERLING:¬† Are you concerned that American Pharoah‑‑ obviously he possesses the most natural speed in here.¬† Are you concerned he could get in a position where he's able to get to the front, lope along and nobody will catch him?
TODD PLETCHER:  Sure, that's a concern, but I think with Materiality, if you look at his first three races, he's a horse that can be close to the pace.  Unfortunately he missed a brick at Churchill and found himself in a position he'd never been in.  I like the fact that we drew outside of American Pharoah, and we're going to make sure we break well this time and go to the first turn trying to make sure there's an honest pace.
ANDY SERLING:  So, being on his flank, he breaks from post 8 what you think will help him?
TODD PLETCHER:  I hope so.
ANDY SERLING:  And Madeforlucky has post 3.  You think that draw's fine?
TODD PLETCHER:  I think it's fine.  I don't think it was important for him exactly where he drew.
ANDY SERLING:  Madefromlucky won our Peter Pan, which is our Belmont prep for the race.  Do you think the race over the track will help him, or is that something you're not concerned about or one way or the other?
TODD PLETCHER:  I think he'll appreciate the mile and a half.  One of the things we were hoping previous races he didn't run the turns very well and he seemed to run the turn much better at Belmont.  It's kind of a bigger stage.  He needs to keep improving.  I think his last race was his best and he's trained well since then.
ANDY SERLING:  You've had great success in the Belmont Stakes over the past few years.  You've got a couple of wins including Rags to Riches, obviously the filly that upset the race.  You've had a couple horses that ran second, including last year with Commissioner.  What is it you would attribute that to?
TODD PLETCHER:  It's our home track.  It's where we're based.  Most of these horses have spent a lot of time here at Belmont.  Been able to train over the track.  And I think also there are horses that are bred to get the mile and a half distance and certainly Rags to Riches case, no horse in the world was bred more for it than she was.  I think a combination of those things probably help.
ANDY SERLING:  And you're confident in these horses' ability to get the mile and a half, both of your horses?
TODD PLETCHER:  Both of them give me the impression they will.  Both have won twice at a mile and an eighth.  Materiality is by Afleet Alex, who is a Belmont winner.  The way that he closed in the Derby after getting off to a bad start is encouraging as well.
ANDY SERLING:  Do you see any comparisons to Curlin, obviously Curlin has accomplished a great deal, but Curlin came into the Derby with just three starts as Materiality did, and he didn't run that very well, finishing a distant third.  Materiality, he ran pretty well running sixth, considering all his trouble.  Do you see some comparisons between the two?
TODD PLETCHER:  I think you could.  He's a horse that accomplished a lot in a short period of time.  It's pretty hard to win the Florida Derby in your third start.  We were concerned about his lack of experience in the Derby.  Never envisioned that it would cause, be because he didn't break well.
But once he didn't break well, all the things that concern you with a horse that's always been close to the pace is he didn't get any, never had any kickback before that and took him a while to adjust to it.
I was pretty proud the way he closed.¬† I think most horses‑‑ I think he passed, might have been 17th turning for home.¬† It's fairly hard to do.
ANDY SERLING:  Pretty amazing, you passed 11 horses I think in less than a quarter mile.
The riders of Todd's horses, two of the most accomplished and celebrated riders in the game:  Javier Castellano, who won the Preakness with Bernadini; and John Velazquez, who won two Belmonts, including Rags to Riches and also the Derby with Animal Kingdom.  Happy to have them here.  I'll have them come up to join us.
ANDY SERLING:  I'll ask each of you same question.  Tell me about the home court edge.  You ride at Belmont Park; you spend so much of your life riding there, does it help you?
JOHN VELAZQUEZ:  I definitely say it's an advantage for us because we're there the whole time.  We know where the poles are and where the racetrack is.  You've got a good feeling now.
JAVIER CASTELLANO:¬† Yeah, personally, we‑‑ that's our hometown.¬† And we race a lot over here and we have a lot of success up at the track.
And we know the poles, like Johnny say.  And this is a very tricky track, is a very (indiscernible) move, and you have to be concerned about the stretch.  It's the longest stretch too also.
ANDY SERLING:  Riding a mile and a half race, obviously you don't ride in that many, but you've been on the track knowing, you say, the poles.
Explain that a little bit, what that means and how it can help you in riding this Belmont as opposed to some other riders?
JOHN VELAZQUEZ:¬† Of course it is a difference.¬† Obviously it's a mile and a half.¬† Any other track in the country, when you get to the back stretch, you actually are in the three‑quarter pole.¬† Here we go to the mile pole.¬† So we have a long way to the mile pole to the half‑a‑mile pole.
You gotta be patient.  And that's all it takes about is patience.  Have the horse to obviously respond to the things you like to do.  But you have to be really patient, have to ride the mile and a half in Belmont.
JAVIER CASTELLANO:¬† Absolutely.¬† You have to have patience, because it's a long stretch.¬† Like I said in the beginning, it's a mile‑and‑a‑half race.¬† A lot of patience.¬† But at the same time you've got to be careful, because you've got a lot of patience, and you go to the lead with Lopez, you see a lot of Belmont winners go to the wire, you've got to be monitored and considered yourself, and put the horse in where it belongs and go from there, go with the rhythm.
ANDY SERLING:  Both of you have had success in riding in Triple Crown races.  Can you talk about what it means to win a Triple Crown race, a Derby, a Preakness, a Belmont?
JAVIER CASTELLANO:  That's the way all the fans here to look at for, see the big horse.  And so many years you will not see the Triple Crown race.  We're all looking for it.  But at the same time we've got to do our job.  And I've never won the Belmont Stakes in my life and hopefully it could be this year.
And we hold the respect of the horses and the race and we've got to do the best we can for the sport.  We've got to go from there.
JOHN VELAZQUEZ:  For me, obviously every trainer, owner, jockey, this is a dream come true to get to being in one of these races, not only being in one of these races but winning it.  It's the most important races in horse racing, I would say.
ANDY SERLING:  We thank you a lot for coming.  Wish you the best of luck.  John Velazquez and Javier Castellano.
A trainer that anybody who follows racing around the world is familiar with is trainer Michael de Kock.  And Michael de Kock has brought Mubtaahij here and he ran the Kentucky Derby, and he came right to Belmont to run in our Belmont Stakes.
And we're thrilled to have world‑renowned trainer Michael de Kock.¬† I don't know how many people know‑‑ you have contingencies of horses on three different continents:¬† Europe, Asia, Africa.
How do you manage that?
MICHAEL DE KOCK:  Good stuff, I think, at the end of the day.  Communication with them on a daily basis and they're your eyes and ears.
ANDY SERLING:  As far as Mubtaahij, have you been with him in the states for the last five or more weeks since running in the Derby?
MICHAEL DE KOCK:¬† No, my son and Trevor have been here with‑‑ Lisa looks after him.¬† I've been back in South Africa.¬† We've got a big season there at the moment.¬† And they've been doing a good job.
ANDY SERLING:  How has he been training since coming to Belmont Park?
MICHAEL DE KOCK:  He's done well.  The fact he's been settled in one place for, I think it's just under three and a half weeks now, has made a difference to him.  He settled in very well, training, very happy with the way he's going in training.
As opposed to the prep for the Kentucky where a lot‑‑ a lot of changes going into the race where everything has been pretty consistent with us, which I think makes a big difference.
ANDY SERLING:  He ran in Kentucky just five weeks after winning in Dubai.  Now he's got another five weeks.  Do you think that at the time now ten weeks away from Dubai, do you think that will make a difference and help him in this race?
MICHAEL DE KOCK:  I have no doubt.  I think all the traveling and various changes like feed, et cetera, surrounding changes, no one really wants to go through that, going into a race like the Kentucky, but unfortunately those are the hoops there to jump through.
It's far more advantageous to be in the Belmont and settled.
ANDY SERLING:  How about the mile and a half, how do you feel about that, as well as your post position, could you talk about both of them a little bit?
MICHAEL DE KOCK:  I don't think mile and a half is a problem at all.  He's by Dubawi.  There's a lot of stamina in his family.
The way he won the Derby in Dubai, that's not going to be an issue, the distance, at all.  I'm not mad about one pole.
He did win from one draw in Dubai.  I'd rather be on the outside, to be honest.  But there's eight horses.  So we've got a rider that knows his way around the track.  Again, you've got to lead to the right at the end of the day.  He knows his way around.
ANDY SERLING:  Christophe Soumillon had ridden him in the past, rode him in Kentucky.  He's not riding him here.  Irad Ortiz, who is one of our leading riders in New York, how confident are you?  Do you think that perhaps switching to an American rider who is more comfortable with the race track might help?
MICHAEL DE KOCK:  It may.  Christophe, at the end of the day, is a top rider.  And if he was able to ride, he was going to ride.
So I have every confidence in him.¬† He's a man that can adapt to any surface.¬† But I think we've got a great replacement in Irad.¬† I think ‑‑ obviously the little I know about him‑‑ he seems to know his way around Belmont a little.
ANDY SERLING:¬† He does that.¬† Now, this is your first‑‑ you've had success in America before.¬† I remember Horse Chestnut, winning down in Florida, as well as some Breeders Cup races.¬† This is your first participation in the Triple Crown.¬† How has this experience been for you?
MICHAEL DE KOCK:  Look, the whole thing has been great.  We didn't expect to get there.  He just came out of the Derby so well.  And Sheikh Mohammed said you are there, you might as well have another go.  So while he's paying the bills, we'll do this.
ANDY SERLING:  We appreciate you coming and joining us.  Wish you the best of luck.  Michael de Kock, thanks a lot.
Trainer Dallas Stewart has made a habit of bringing long shots in Triple Crown races and seemingly getting very good results with them.  And he, of course, runs Tale of Verve, who came right out of a maiden race to finish second in the Preakness and he's back in the Belmont.
We're happy to have Dallas here and Dallas is going to join us for a few moments.
I ran into you at Keeneland back in April and you were gushing about a maiden, Tale of Verve, to me.  And one of the things you were saying about him was you felt he was a top horse, and the second half of the season he was going to be able to join these horses.
Obviously that changed.  He managed to join them in the first half of the season.  Are you surprised at all at how quickly he's developed.
DALLAS STEWART:  Like I said, I liked him all winter.  But after he won at Keeneland, it was a mile and 3/16th.  I saw that he cooled down great, and just the stamina he has.  We just took a shot.  But the horse just continued to develop.  He's a beautiful horse, a big strong horse, sound, and so here we are.
ANDY SERLING:  The post position, how has he been training since coming to Belmont from Pimlico?
DALLAS STEWART:  Very good.  We brought him here right after Pimlico.  He has had some very good gallops.  I just wanted to get him here.  He's a big horse.  Big track.  I just really felt like he would love it.  So we got him up here and he had a good work in 59.  Got over the ground great.  I think he's pretty impressive.  I like him.
ANDY SERLING:  You picked up Gary Stevens for this race.  And of course Gary needs no introduction.  Are you excited about adding him as the rider?
DALLAS STEWART:  Yes, very excited.
ANDY SERLING:¬† He came from well back obviously in a fast‑paced race in the Preakness.¬† In the Belmont, the pace may not be as fast.¬† Do you feel confident he can perhaps be closer to the pace and be effective, or make a big run, even if the pace isn't as quick?
DALLAS STEWART:¬† I do.¬† I don't think he has to be that far back.¬† I think it's just a situation in the Preakness with the mud he just didn't get going.¬† He fought hard.¬† He got through‑‑ he got through the mud pretty good.¬† I just don't think he'll be that far back, with Gary, the way he's training, his work has been sharper, he's acting sharp.¬† I think he'll be a little bit closer.¬† We'll see.
ANDY SERLING:  You've certainly done well in some other Triple Crown races.  And we wish that continued success in this year's Belmont and appreciate you taking the time out to join us here, Dallas.
Frosted was the one closer in the Kentucky Derby that made an impact in that race.  He skipped the Preakness, but he's coming back for our Belmont Stakes, and the president of Dolly America, Jimmy Bell, is here and he'll answer questions as we talk about Frosted.
How has Frosted been doing since the Kentucky Derby?
JIMMY BELL:  He came out of that race very fresh, very well.  Came back to his home base, which is nice to train in your own backyard.  He's continued to keep climbing the ladder.  So we're very excited with his progress.
And he's one of those that made that big transition from 2 to 3 and from the first of the year to now has really gained in confidence and ability as well.  So very excited.
ANDY SERLING:  Was it always your plan to skip the Preakness, or did you more play it by ear?
JIMMY BELL:  As you hear, you let the horse tell you what's going on.  And it's a long year.  And we want to keep a happy, healthy horse, and this really works out well in our overall planning.
ANDY SERLING:¬† He's really blossomed since you've started taking him farther back in his races, starting with the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and even the Kentucky Derby.¬† Are you at all concerned with the possible slower pace in the Derby and American Pharoah's pace advantage, that he may have to be closer and therefore potentially not as‑‑ doesn't run as well?
JIMMY BELL:  Well, this is a unique race as everybody's alluded to, and there are a lot of intangibles.  And I think that, as you know, many times it comes out to be a rider's race, when you find yourself and you think one thing and something else happens.
And there's always going to be some intangibles and some unknowns.  So given a mile and a half, I think everybody's going to probably try and work out the trip they want, find the position they want.  With a relatively short field of eight I think it's going to be free and clear for everybody.
ANDY SERLING:  You're happy with the post position?
JIMMY BELL:  Very much so.  Happy to be there.
ANDY SERLING:  Thanks so much for joining us.
JIMMY BELL:  I would just say, this is a compliment, now that we're in such a great program, great day of racing for fans, and NBC will have a great storyline, and I think it will be a great day to showcase the sport.  And Godolphin is happy to be a participant.
ANDY SERLING:  Last, but certainly not least, are the connections of Keen Ice.  Jerry Crawford who heads Donegal Racing that owns Keen Ice is nice enough to join us to talk about being in the Triple Crown.
He's certainly been here before and been in these races.  And Keen Ice is a horse that had a troubled trip in the Derby.
How do you feel about being in potential spoiler role when so many people seem to be rooting for American Pharoah.
JERRY CRAWFORD:  Congratulations to Justin Zayat on graduating from NYU.  In Iowa, where I'm from, we think one family celebration a season is enough.
You know, to be serious about it, all of us who are running against American Pharoah on Saturday owe it to history, owe it to prior Triple Crown runners and owe it to American Pharoah to be that if he wins the race on Saturday he will have earned it honestly and against great competition.
I agree with Ahmed, I think this has been one of the great three‑year‑old crops.¬† And if American Pharoah can get a mile and a half on Saturday, all of our hats will be off to him.¬† But it's our job to do what we can to make the race honest.
ANDY SERLING:  The post position that you drew, are you fine with that?
JERRY CRAWFORD:  You mean my favorite number, 7?
ANDY SERLING:  If I had known that I wouldn't have asked the question.  He had a troubled trip, Keen Ice, in the Derby.  Did that have anything to do with your thinking and coming here to the Belmont and hopefully he'll be able to duplicate that performance with a clean trip?
JERRY CRAWFORD:  The surprise with Keen Ice was we thought once we got to a mile and a quarter he'd be fine, he'd have room.  I think of American Pharoah as a wide receiver.  I think of Keen Ice as a fullback.
He's a horse that, once he gets his momentum going, can really come.¬† But he got stopped twice in the Derby at the three‑eighths pole and the quarter pole.
I think with the smaller field size, he won't get stopped in this race.  As long as there's a little pace.  I was glad to hear Todd say what he said about trying to ensure an honest pace, he'll be one of the ones coming at the end.
ANDY SERLING:  He's not your only horse that Donegal is running on Saturday's card.  You have a horse who is one of the favorites in the Knob Creek Manhattan, Finnegans Wake, who has won four of his last five races, won the big race on the turf on Derby Day.
Are you excited about him.  He's really improved dramatically at age six.
JERRY CRAWFORD:  He's been amazing, winning four of his last five, as you said.  I'm trying to get Terry Finley to agree to not to run on Saturday.  That would be very helpful.
I talked to Victor Espinoza, and I said:  You know, Victor, riding for us on Finnegans Wake, one victory in two big races Saturday should be enough for anyone, right?
ANDY SERLING:  Hope that works out.  That certainly seems like a lot.  Best of luck.  Great to see you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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