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May 4, 2002

Bob Baffert

Ahmed Bin Salman

Victor Espinoza


JOHN ASHER: We have the Kentucky Derby winning jockey Victor Espinoza, wire-to-wire aboard War Emblem. We'll open it up to questions and we'll also take questions in the press box.

Q. Obviously this course has speed and you've been working beautifully over this track; did you anticipate getting the comfortable lead that you did?

VICTOR ESPINOZA: I always think about it before the race, and before the race, you never think how you want to go, one, two lengths in front of everybody. In this race, nobody get away from nobody. Everybody is trying to follow. They want to try to follow the one in the front. But we all had a conversation, Bob Baffert and I, this morning. Actually he wake me up early to come see him in the barn because he want to show me how it's going to be my first blind day because I never see this horse before. The last time I see him, I watch him in the workout, I see him workout, I was very, very impressed. He really impressed me right then when I saw him working in the morning. I was on the racetrack watching him, and it really impressed me how his legs moved so smoothly and so easy. I saw all the horses, all the horses in the race there; don't work that good like my horse. So when I come, I feel very comfortable to come here and win the race. You never think about -- before, last year, I thought I was going to win the race, too, but fortunately this year, my second ride in Kentucky Derby, I got lucky. This morning, I went and Bob told me to come see him in the barn, see how to ride this horse. And I can't get in there to the barn, so I had to come in through all jockey zone and in the security and he says only reason I take you is if you win. He says: You win, it will be all right. Odds are 20-1 you make plenty of money.

Q. You said in the winner's circle Bob told you to just "wait, wait, wait" on this horse; at what point did you feel comfortable to let it go to be where you wanted to be?

VICTOR ESPINOZA: I don't know how many times he told me to wait. He told me plenty of times to wait and wait. And down the three-eighths pole, I have too much horse to go. So that was no reason to me to just let it go yet because everybody is coming one length behind me and I have no pressure to nobody. So I have -- it's kind of difficult for me and all the riders when he's in the front because you're so excited that you can't wait to let it go, the horse. But it was a long stretch, so I had to be patient.

Q. Just the obvious question: This is your second Kentucky Derby and you came pretty close last year; how does it feel to get it done the second time around?

VICTOR ESPINOZA: You know, I can't explain to the public or everybody how you feel when you win this Kentucky Derby or this kind of big race. It's kind of rough to say it, but I'm very excited. I just don't have words to say how good of a feeling that I have. There's nothing like it, to win a big Kentucky Derby.

Q. Was it as easy as it looked?

VICTOR ESPINOZA: You know, everything looks easy, but it is not. (Laughs). It is not easy because I think -- it's 20 horses; it is 20 jockeys that want to win the race, and when it looks like easy to win, it's tough. It's tough not just physical; mentally and patient.

Q. What time did Bob call you and why couldn't you get in the barn area?

VICTOR ESPINOZA: Like 8:00, 8:30, which is early for me today. I want to sleep. I want to rest as much as I can. And at that time, he called me. Yesterday when I rode, his last words, the last race, he told me, "I'd like you to come see the replay for this horse." nd he said, "See if you have a chance to come see me tomorrow in the barn so you can watch the replay." And I said all right. So I was sleeping when he called and he said, "Come see me" and I said, "well, all right, I've got to be there." But I couldn't get to the barn. So I had to come to the jockey zone. Like I said before, I was going to walk on the track, to go to the barn, but the security told me if I could sign his program and I said sure. Well, maybe you sign my program and I can help you out to go to the barn. So this is great; I don't have to get dirt in my shoes. This is when I go there and I watch the replay for this horse. We have a little bit like 15 minutes conversation, him and I, and it just : Come out of the gate clean and we just go from there. Either you're in the lead or you're behind. We do not have any plans to -- where you're going to be. I just, in my mind, I always think of it, if I take the lead easy, everybody is going to just let me go and try not to follow me, because if somebody's going to follow me, we're going to go as fast as we can. You know, the best horse is going beat anyone, by fractions. When I come into the gate, everybody kind of cooled down and I see everybody else. I have a very good break from the gate, and that was very important to me to, come out of the gate clean on the first turn. I've watched so many Kentucky Derbys, I see them most of the times, the horses they get a lot of track on the first turn. With that, you have to be very, very smart to not get in trouble the first turn and get clear. After that, that was easy to go all the way around and just go from there.

Q. Were you looking around at all? Did you feel other horses coming up? Were you surprised when you looked around and saw nobody there?

VICTOR ESPINOZA: Actually, no. I was focused on my horse and I don't worry about any other horses around me.

BOB BAFFERT: It was like a dream?

VICTOR ESPINOZA: I feel like I was sleeping.

BOB BAFFERT: These colors here, keep them with you. Say you want the same colors and wear the same colors at all times.

JOHN ASHER: Three-time award-winning Kentucky Derby trainer, winner on War Emblem.

BOB BAFFERT: I thought this race, it's hard, you know, you buy a horse a month out like that. But here, I've been so lucky. I know a lot of people feel, well, it's not the fairway to come into a Derby, but believe me, this is my livelihood. This is how I make a living. This is how I support my children and everybody else. I have a big staff that works for me and everything else. This was a big thing for me. I really thought that -- I didn't think I would have to feel -- I've bought horses since we won those two, and it was really like a humbling experience after last year. Coming in here, I walked up here like "This is going to be a piece of cake, no problem." And after that, it really made me see, this is a tough race. All these guys that have won this race all these years, you've got to be so lucky, and for -- like to fall on this horse like that, to find him and convince the owners, they sold the horse to us, they are so sweet, they are nice people, and Frank Springer, the guy, the trainer, he told me everything about the horse. Everything went so smooth and it went without a hitch. So it was one of those things, where when they turned for home -- I had a good feeling I was going to win this race. I loved the horse, but I just didn't know if he was good enough. I said, If he runs out of race -- he won the Illinois Derby, and he's a winner, sure enough. The Illinois Derby was the toughest damn race of them all, the way he beat Repent. It was one of those things where I'm standing there with Jill, and we've been through a lot the last few years with these Derbys and stuff, and so it was very emotional for us. I never thought I would have that feeling again. But the 8-pole, you just get this incredible feeling when you see your horse just -- you know you're going to win, and that last 100 yards, you wish it would last like forever. It was just incredible. I want to thank Richard Mulhall for believing in me and the Prince for believing in me. I wish I could win this for every client that I've had, but it just seems like I have to -- the guys who have been with me a few years, we seem to win. Now the Prince, we've a win for him. So just sign up now (Laughter).

JOHN ASHER: When you first saw this horse working here three weeks ago, that's the first time I saw that gleam in your eye.

BOB BAFFERT: I told Jill, this horse worked. She goes, well -- a lot of people wanted to watch my body language and I watched him work and Jill would go, "Well, what do you think? How did he do?" I said, "Well, he did awesome." She said, "You don't seem excited." I said, "Well, let's just wait for the next work." The next day, we're waxing TBJ, they did do a good job with the works, and nobody really talked about him, but just, the only person that knows their own horse is the trainer themselves. And I just knew, and Dana Barnes and Jimmy Barnes (ph) who worked for me, the husband and wife team, Dana told me the first time she worked him, "he's as good as any horse we've ever brought here," and that's all I needed to hear. So I flew her in. We're a good team. But we're just lucky -- this game is about luck and we are fortunate and everything, it just seemed to work out that way. Matter of fact, the Prince all the way, down he kept saying, "Pinch me Bob, pinch me. Is this really happening?" And he said, "Can we do this again?" And this is one race, anybody that's won this race, when you win it, it's like you don't say, well, I hope -- you're still going to stay in the horse business, aren't you. So, it's just an incredible, incredible feeling. You can't put a price on it. I mean, I almost started crying when he hit the wire; that's how emotional it is. It brings back everything, all how hard you've been working at it, and it finally happens, and it's like a dream.

JOHN ASHER: The Prince has joined us, from the Thoroughbred Corporation.

AHMED BIN SALMAN: Thank you, sir.

JOHN ASHER: You thought you would be here a year ago, but talk about your thoughts on winning this Kentucky Derby.

AHMED BIN SALMAN: Well, the good thing is I was not nervous before the race at all. I was laughing, chatting. Last year I could not even move. Funny thing I won the English Derby and I was not nervous. I guess when you are not nervous, that's the secret you win them. So to win it, not only to win it, but win it with Bob is something very special. We are outstanding team work, with Bob, with Mr. Mulhall, and aspiring star, Victor Espinoza. And this time of the year to win it, it's not just for me, it's for the Saudis and great friends, the Americans. I am the first Arab to win it, by the way.

BOB BAFFERT: Now you've won it all.


Q. Would you please elaborate on the job that Bobby Springer did in getting this horse ready before he came over to you?

BOB BAFFERT: He did a great job. Bobby Springer, his staff, when we bought the horse, you know, he works hard and I told him, I said, "Well, you know I want you -- tell me what you can about the horse." And he told me. He was such a nice guy, that, you know I called him the following day and I told him, you know what, you were so good, this whole thing. Usually when you buy a horse -- and the thing about it, he wasn't going to the Derby anyway, and I told him, "You know what? If we happen to get lucky and I win one of these races, there's a million-dollar bonus; I'm going to split it with you." So I want to have some really rooting power. And he told me every little bad thing and he really helped me get to know this horse in a hurry and he played a big part. He was very -- he gave me all his thoughts, all the things that he told me about. So we worked with the horse, and I just changed a few things. This horse, that's one thing about good horses. It doesn't matter whose barn they go in. They adapt to everything. One thing, he's tough. He had some problems. He was supposed to have been sold before but he didn't vet out, I don't know what he's got, did we didn't even X-ray him. We don't want to know what he's got. It was one of those things where the Prince, we told him, say, this horse is not going to vet out and he said, why are we getting him so cheap this late in the game and he goes, "Well, why didn't somebody else get him?" Well, nobody had a chance. It just happened so fast. It was fate, though. You know what? When I got here, it's so funny, it's been 10 years since I lost with Cavonnier today, or seven years. And it was like -- Jill was telling me, you know what, I think it's your turn to win it again. And so you know that was the worst loss I ever had. There's something about this race. There's a mystique about it; that when it's your turn, it's your turn. I think that's the way it went down. We were supposed to buy this horse.

Q. Regarding the roller coaster of emotions today, you had two horses, Danthebluegrassman goes out this morning, and a few hours later you are in the winner's circle with the other horses?

BOB BAFFERT: You look at Buddha, one of the better horses in the race, you never know when these horses -- every morning when I'm here, the first thing when I wake up when Jimmy Barnes calls me up, I hold my breath. He says, "Everything's okay." It's like usually you get a call so, and so-and-so didn't eat or whatever. And with Dan, I mean it was a tough call. Mike had to call Dan Chandler and tell him and told him that the horse tied up. He scratched. And Dan says, "Well, what does that mean?" "Well, he's out." But it's one of those things where you can't really -- it could have happened to War Emblem. Matter of fact, after it happened to Dan, he tied up because he felt so good, that War Emblem, I was just going to jog him also. I galloped him. He felt so good, I felt if I don't do enough of them -- he was pretty wild this morning. Sometimes bad things can help you in other things.

Q. Last year you didn't win the Derby here with a horse you were very close to; can you compare the feelings?

AHMED BIN SALMAN: Well, the first difference is -- he did an outstanding thing as a 2-years-old. He should have won the Breeder's Cup as everybody knows. And Bob continued with him, his campaign to three years old. So logically, professionally, I've been in the horse business for 22 years and as a kid always been with the horses. I thought this was piece of cake. Honestly, I thought it was piece of cake because he proved it in the Preakness and Belmont, and other great races but things don't work out your way sometime. Like the English Derby with Millennium in the race and he was the hot favorite. He never got beat one time except one time with my horse.

BOB BAFFERT: Don't you think that's a very strange story of my life?

AHMED BIN SALMAN: He's really genius. Especially when he wears his sunglasses, that means he's spot-on. But give credit to Victor Espinoza.

Q. For the first time in many years, you were not the focus during the week, can you talk about that?

BOB BAFFERT: You know what, I really enjoyed it this year. I came in here with a sort of a long shot, and I think some people felt, well, you know here he is, he's here again. But this is my livelihood. This is what I do. I mean, I'm trying to find a horse for everybody that I train for. You just can't give up, and we are just constantly going. I had a good time. I could relax. It was like, everybody figured, well, he doesn't have a chance. This horse won in Illinois. It's a freakish racetrack, it's a gimmick racetrack and I thought, well, maybe it is or maybe it isn't, but I was just going by what I saw in the track. And I was nervous today. I was very nervous today. People thought I was nervous, because I knew we could win the race. I knew we had everything. Danny saw me shaking in a panic -- don't tell. I just had a good feeling about this horse, and the way he acted, he was calm, cool, he acted brave. I was watching him watch up, everything went fine. And I told Victor: You know, Victor, this is a really, really good horse. You're a long shot but don't panic. Just cruise out there. If they leave you by yourself just don't move on them and when you turn for home, if you're in front, don't panic. Just sit on him as long as you can. Just wait, wait, wait and just don't move and at the 8th pole then you can go ahead and do whatever you want. Unless, you know, about five or six horses are passing you. But it's like -- he did. He just sat quiet. I cannot think what was going through his mind. I mean, we lost it the last 100 yards, but for him to sit cool, he really showed so much poise today. I mean, for a young rider like that, showed so much poise. He came into the barn this morning I showed him the time of the race from the Illinois Derby and we went through it and that's the way the kid likes to ride. Never moved on him. He's a natural runner. Just let him do his thing. Don't check. I don't think the horse is going to go with you and they are not going to do something stupid. So it was a good field of horses that were -- and I'm sort of disappointed. A lot of the media have been knocking this field. There were some good horses in there. All of those horses were very good horses. It's a good year, but just a lot of parity. I think when Repent got beat by this horse, he beat him by a block, and Repent was like the No. 1 horse. I just wish they would not dog a lot of these horses because they were really good. Medaglia d'Oro, Buddha, it's a good crop. They are always a good crop. It's like saying the World Series winners, they are no good. You've got to be good to get here, and they are all good. It's that kind of a race. We were just really good today.

Q. When did you find out this horses was available for sale and how long did it take to finalize the purchase?

BOB BAFFERT: What happened is Richard Mulhall and I happened to be talking about the Clocker's Corner at Santa Anita shooting the bull like we do every morning. I got a call from a guy from the Racing Forum wanted to check on Officer and I asked him, "What is " -- immediately asked him, "What was the buyer of the Santa Anita Derby?" And he told me 96. And I thought, well, I guess it was a slow race. I said, "What was the buyer of the Illinois Derby?" He said 120. I said, "Wow, that horse is a freak, he is a good horse." So we were just talking. Then Richard, he gets a call, gets a message from the Prince saying, hey, that horse they are not going to run him in the Derby, see if they want to sell him. They are not thinking about it. So on the way back to the barn, about an hour later, I get a call from an agent and I was going to call him up, he says, "Hey, you want to buy a Derby horse?" I go, "Well, what horse is it? Because I've always talked to a lot of agents, and he says, "the winner of the Illinois Derby." He says, "Well, I can get it done." We took a couple of days, stayed quiet. I told Richard and we told the Prince and the Prince says "go get him." I said he's not going to vet, he's got chips or whatever. He says, "Go get him." Richard calls me up and says "We're going to go look at him? When are we leaving; tomorrow?" "No, we're leaving in an hour." Got on a jet to Lexington and watched him train the next morning. The thing about it, just the way this thing went down, I talked about fate, is that when we got the contract signed to buy the horse, they didn't know it was us buying it. The agent called me up and he told me when he called me at like 6:00 in the morning, I got the contract signed. "We've got him, baby, so all we've got to do is you've got to give the okay." So I call up my veterinarian, Dr. Doug Barry (ph) and he's at Keeneland, so I call him up and I say, "Dr. Barry, this is Bob Baffert," and he goes, "Bob? Bob Baffert, what are you doing? What are you doing calling me?" I go, "do you know a guy named Frank Springer?" I'm trying to stay in the QT. "Frank? He's right next to me, Bob. What's going on?" I said, "This is supposed to be on the QT." "What do you mean Bob?" Well, give me the phone. So I talked to Frank and he probably didn't know this thing just had went down. So the way it went down, just boom, boom, boom, it was like, this was meant to happen.

Q. I don't believe you walked over with the horse; that's a departure from the usual style, how come and where were you?

BOB BAFFERT: You know, I've done the walk and I just thought, you know I'm just going to stay here this year. I've got Jimmy Barnes and my crew, John Good, they did a great job and I've never seen this end of it. So, I'll just stay here. I just didn't want to do the walk. Nobody really wanted to go walk with me, either. (Laughter). My group said: We're not going to walk Bob, if you want to go -- I just decided not to do it. I thought, well, I'll wait here and leave it up to Jimmy. I trust my people, and we kept in contact. He told me what was going on. I told him, don't bring the horse out here, don't bring him too early, don't bring him too late. Everything went really smooth and we got the trip. He broke perfect. You just -- every thing that we were hoping to get, we got. You know, Nick Zito (ph) told me this morning, I ran into him this morning, he says: "You're going to win it. They are going to leave you by yourself. They are going to let you go." So he knew something I didn't know.

Q. Were you prepared to lay off the pace if it was very fast, or were you committed to go to the lead under any circumstance?

BOB BAFFERT: We discussed it. The Prince said, well, what happens if there's a speed horse. I said, well we were hoping -- let's not even think about that. We didn't even know if this horse could take dirt in his face. That's what happens, just like you have a speed horse, they can be fine behind, but the minute that dirt hits, they want to run right into the dirt. So we were hoping that we wouldn't. But we had a Plan B, like two horses got out there winging it with him. But this horse, the way he's been training, he would cruise and relax. You can't take him back too much, but you just don't want to break him from his long, fluid stride.

Q. Did you put money down on him today and how much?

AHMED BIN SALMAN: No, I'm not a gambler. Honestly I don't do that. I wish I could do that. A friend of mine from England, he called me today and he does things unbelievable. You remember when Anees won? He put 100,000 pounds to win on him. He called me today said I'm putting 50,000. I said why don't you put 100 like last time? I guess he's celebrating somewhere.

Q. With the tensions in the last year between Arab nations and the United States, can you tell us your feelings about the relationship between the two, and perhaps your role?

AHMED BIN SALMAN: You have to remember, sir, I'm a businessman, I'm not a politician. I leave this question to our politicians and your politicians.

Q. Did you have any hesitation about running the race --

AHMED BIN SALMAN: Well, his son, which is like my son, I wish if I don't win it, that he wins it because he's a friend of mine. But this thing is unbelievable, the instincts. I read the Daily News and I saw "War Emblem Running the Big Race," which I won before with a horse called Performing Magic, he stands in New York now. And I says, what a name, because I love that -- the sire, and then the phone calls start rolling with Dick and Bob and I send out the horse to vet him out --

BOB BAFFERT: We didn't vet him out.

AHMED BIN SALMAN: So we bought him, and I thought the price was extremely reasonable. Because I've been breeding, I've been buying yearling, 2-year-olds in training, horse in Argentina, everything you could call. So when you get a chance -- people sometimes say, well, we just bought him four weeks ago. I think it's much smarter to buy a horse four weeks ago and win the Kentucky Derby than raise them.

Q. In some people's minds there will be a feeling that perhaps you bought the Derby. Your thoughts on that?

AHMED BIN SALMAN: Everybody buys the Derby, because you have to buy a horse or raise a horse to win the Derby. So that's why that -- spending money is not buying? Bought the Derby -- if you tell me next year who is going to win it, I'll buy it again.

BOB BAFFERT: Anybody that says that, they are just jealous, envious of us, whatever. But we just got lucky we bought this horse. If Godolphin knew about it, they would have bought it, anybody else.

AHMED BIN SALMAN: Anybody with the right mind. When you buy a horse as a yearling, right, or you raise him, don't you pay keeping and training fees and on and on? That's called spending money, isn't it? So this is the first time that anything that happened to me -- I always look for any horse good in the world at a good budget. When I got this horse, it worked. If it happens to me next year, I swear to God I do it again. But only one condition: Bob guarantee me he going to win.

JOHN ASHER: Thank you so much and congratulations on winning the 128th Ken Derby.

End of FastScripts...

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