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October 26, 2007

Nick Mastrandrea

Doug O'Neill

James Perry

Mark Verge


ERIC WING: We'd like to welcome everyone.
MARK VERGE: Mark Verge, one of the small owners. "Verge," like on the verge of hoping Doug wins another one tomorrow.
ERIC WING: Doug and Mark, I know about three or four weeks ago, I believe your brother, Dennis was on an NTRA teleconference and somebody asked, almost as a second thought, what are your plans with Maryfield, I think the call was centering around Lavaman. And Dennis, really wasn't sure, he said, "We think she's probably going to go through the sale at Keenland in November and we are really not sure what we are going to do with her in the meantime and just want to get her to the sale." What has turned things around so far for her?
DOUG O'NEILL: I think she's just been surrounded with such a good group of guys who own her. Mark and I grew up together and we started going to the track at like ten, so this is just a great moment to have Mark own part of this horse and be here. I'm sure we'll up the game plan in the November sale and there might be some hesitation from the partners.
This Philly, she really has turned it on amazingly. And I think we have just accidentally learned how she wants to be written, starting in Chavez to Trujillo, they have done a marvelous job in getting her to relax.
I can't wait to see the replay and I had my nephew, Patrick, doing a version of Trevor Denman and he kept saying it, "Here she comes on the outside, we're in the right spot." I couldn't see anything but he was right.
ERIC WING: You had to be pleased to see 21 and 1 go up on the board.
DOUG O'NEILL: I was, with this rain, not knowing if 21 and 1 would be like 22 on a normal day or not. But obviously 21 and 1 is 21 and 1 on any kind of track and the horses just couldn't maintain it. This mare has just turned in to being an awesome machine.
ERIC WING: I know your other partners, one of them got into racing three years ago, one got into racing two years ago; how long have you been in the business?
MARK VERGE: I'm lucky. I'm fortunate, Doug and I have been friends since the sixth grade, and he said, "We just claimed this horse Maryfield and you have to jump in on ten percent." I can't believe I'm sitting here. He said, "I love this horse, there's an extra ten percent that hasn't been bought."
ERIC WING: What are your thoughts on the possible sale?
MARK VERGE: They offered me money before some of the partners to get out and I told Doug I can't do it because I love cheering for him, so I stayed in and plus it's worth a lot more money now.
ERIC WING: When you said you learned how she wanted to run by accident, are you referring to the Aqueduct when she got left at the gate and ran one of her best races.
DOUG O'NEILL: She's so amazingly gifted with speed. When we claimed her, we just assumed she was a filly that had to be up near the front end, and she's such a tall, big, good-looking filly, it's amazing, it took us about seven starts and chop-chop for us to figure it out. But she's so big that by rushing off her feet, it just takes a lot of run out of her and just letting her break and settle, she's so much more giving late in the race, and I wish we would have figured that out a while back. But at least we finally figured it out.

Q. One of your partners got into racing by virtue of being a caterer on the set of Seabiscuit; can you talk about that?
MARK VERGE: Nick was a caterer on Seabiscuit and ran into Gary Stevens and Louis Harvey and told him, you have to come out and enjoy the track and this guy, Nick, has fallen in love with this horse. After Maryfield won the Ballerina, he was forcing everyone to call him "Nick Ballerina." She's a great character and now working on Spider Man 4, I believe, as a caterer.
DOUG O'NEILL: The guys in the barn all love him, too. It's like a wedding reception after they win like this. I'm sure he'll be bringing champagne, sandwiches, steaks, everything in the barn. He's brought so much enthusiasm and excitement and he's done a great job of taking care of the guys that don't normally get noticed and it will be great.

Q. Mark, what do you do for a living?
MARK VERGE: We have a rental company in Los Angeles finding apartments for people called West Side Rentals. That's a cheap plug; cheap, cheap plug for Doug O'Neill.

Q. What led you to claim her?
DOUG O'NEILL: What led us to claim her? Wow, Joey Carroll who had her before, had her looking in miraculous condition. She had great pedigree and just one of those things that, you know, I've got some friends that help me a lot with watching morning workouts and they had said she was training really, really well. So just kind of -- we claimed so many horses and so many of them don't turn out, this just happened to be the one, fortunately, that has turned the right way.

Q. What does it mean to you and your career to start stringing together Breeders' Cup wins the way you are right now?
DOUG O'NEILL: It's incredible. I think last year, being part of the Kentucky Derby festivities was just a real eye-opener of how many great horsemen there are, especially in that Kentucky area there.
And just to sit down there, having dinner with Carl Nafzger and Steve Asmussen, and you know, just to be doing something that I absolutely love with people that have been doing this a lot longer than me; I just feel very fortunate and, you know, realizing I'm learning something new every day and been very blessed the last three years and hopefully we can keep it going.

Q. How much of a factor do you think the wet track was? Were you happy to see it when it started to rain and get sloppier and sloppier?
DOUG O'NEILL: Very much so. Every exercise rider has commented on how sure-footed she is. We knew if the going was a little slick, she would not lose her confidence. And as it rained, even though it was a nuisance walking around, we knew it would be a bonus for her.
I was worried the six furloughs might not be long enough for her but all the credit in the world to Elvis to give the kind of ride he did, and in his first Breeders' Cup race and to all of the pressure that was on him and he handled it like a seasoned pro.

Q. On a rainy, gloomy day, the sun is shining in your lives.
ERIC WING: We are joined by Nick Mestrandrea, he's from the set of Seabiscuit, got interested in the game and got into Maryfield and along with Mark Verge -- somebody is obviously a big Rams fan based on the jockey silks. The Rams may be winless but not the Maryfield camp.
Nick, we'll get back to Tom's question in a second, but tell us about -- tell us about how you went from the set of Seabiscuit to in the winner's circle at the Breeders' Cup.
NICK MASTRANDREA: I worked on Seabiscuit as a craft service caterer and to be honest I didn't want to do the movie because I knew it was going to be really hard and moving a lot and it was just a hard movie to pull food out in the middle of, you know, foreign places, to me, Kentucky and Saratoga, so Gary and Louis were talking in the tailgate of my truck and they said, "Hey, get some of your buddies and get a horse," and I was like, sure.
So Nick and I, we claimed a horse called Court Shenanigans and we won our first two, and we got some more, we had Playgirl and we met Doug O'Neill and we claimed Maryfield and, God, it's got to be better than working on a movie set today. (Laughter).
ERIC WING: And Mark Norman, and Jim Perry, you haven't been in the business all that long, you've gotten to the top of the game in a relatively short period of time. Tell us, I know there's been a down period, you were involved with harness horses, I believe; talk about achieving so much in a relatively short period of time.
JAMES PERRY: For me I've been in since March of '05. Actually my first win was New Year's Eve of '05. So for me this is way beyond anything I could have dreamed, even being here when they are getting ready to load into the gate, I kept saying, it's enough just to be here, don't expect, you know, a whole lot more than this. So to win this, there's no way I could put it into words.

Q. I'm sure as the rain began to fall, your confidence level was going high; at what point did you think she could win, when she made the sweeping move?
JAMES PERRY: To be honest with you, I don't think any of us saw her until about halfway through the stretch. So we don't get the luxury of being able to answer that too accurately because we didn't pick her up until there was about maybe an eighth of a mile to go when she was flying on the outside. And then of course we knew at that point that it was just a matter of time.

Q. Mark disclosed that he owned ten percent and would be lucky to even have a vote on future decisions, but what's the percentage that the rest of you guys own?
JAMES PERRY: We are all 30/30/30. Let me check the math -- yeah, that adds up. (Laughter).
NICK MESTRANDREA: This is Mark's second time coming out with us. He didn't go to Aqueduct or Saratoga; he just shows up for the big ones.

Q. Do you know that you beat Oprah Winfrey's favorite horse?
JAMES PERRY: Yeah, we did, twice, exactly.
You know, real quick, before we get kicked out of here, we all owe all of this to Doug O'Neill. He's done a tremendous job. Thank you, Doug. (Applause from top table. )

Q. Doug, what was your view of the race?
DOUG O'NEILL: You know, these guys didn't introduce Nick, too, this is another buddy of ours, along with catering Nick, owns part of Maryfield.
God, the view of the race, I've got to thank my nephew, Patrick, who really called out how everything was unfolding. I can't wait to watch the replay. But you know, I knew she wasn't on a lead early on and when I saw 21 and 1, I just kept hoping they went back up, once he got her to the outside, Elvis rode with all of the confidence in the world and she showed how well she can handle these slick type of tracks, so a great, great feeling.
ERIC WING: Doug O'Neill, good luck tomorrow and congratulations on your exploits today and same goes to all of the owners of Maryfield, a terrific capper to the 2007 season and we hope you claim a few more and get back to the Breeders' Cup.

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