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October 27, 2007

Robert Lapenta

Nick Zito


ERIC WING: We are back live in the interview room. For the people watching upstairs in the press box, it's channel 24, and maybe we have a few stragglers still listening around the racetrack but we are joined by the winning connections of the inaugural dirt mile, somebody said Breeders' Cup "Mud Mile" might be a better description, but Kent Desormeaux, jockey, and trainer James Jerkens and Don Little of Centennial Farms, one of the winning owners.
Mr. Little, Centennial Farms had has some great moments. You had a close call in '92 in the Breeders' Cup Sprint with Rubiano who became a very fine sire. The next year, '93, you won the Belmont Stakes with Colonial Affair in what was known perhaps most particularly for Julie Krone being able to win a Triple Crown race.
How does today's first Breeders' Cup win rank in Centennial Farms history?
JAMES JERKENS: Jimmy has done a great job with this horse and Kent seems to fit in perfectly. It's been a long time coming since we won our last great one. But with the patience and talent of the team we have and the individual itself, it was great to win the inaugural Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
ERIC WING: I suppose as glorious as today winds up being for Corinthian, always high hopes for him but didn't know he would deliver, do you think today justifies the horse he's been all along?
DON LITTLE: Absolutely. He ranked up easily behind some really fast horses and just took off around them. He showed what he's all about today, that's for sure.
ERIC WING: Corinthian didn't have a lot of mud form showing in the racing form, he had one start over a good track and did not win. Were you concerned today about the weather; did you think it would help him or hamper him is this.
JAMES JERKENS: I couldn't really tell. I can't remember breezing him much in the mud. But down here we galloped him and gave him a good, strong, blowout down the backstretch yesterday in the slop and he seemed to handle it really good this morning, too, and that's certainly not a good indication when you're in the heat of battle, that's for sure. I always thought the mare by Easy Goer, I always thought they excelled in the slop, looking at pedigrees, I thought there was no problem there and Pulpit, they seemed like they can do anything.
It certainly was a concern but again we tried to get him out on it and get him used to it and as much as we could, we got lucky, he took to it.
ERIC WING: You were out there guiding Corinthian to victory and not only did you win the race, you pretty much put Discreet Cat away. The two of you, it looked like you were stalking Gottcha Gold and Wanderin Boy. Do you realize it was Discreet Cat next to you and what were you thinking kind of at that midway stage of the race?
KENT DESORMEAUX: It was definitely a target to keep an eye on for me. I think just getting in around that first turn for my post position was the ultimate goal and then ride the race. We broke, you know, nine abreast, everyone was trying to get a forward position and I just drug him back that first flight and I was able to dive to the fence.
I didn't think the fence was the perfect place, but it was the perfect place to keep the mud from drowning him. I was able to keep his face clean all the way till down the back side.
I just gained so much confidence moving down the back side because the horse stayed in the bridle even though he was getting pummeled with sand. And when I loomed up to the leader, the sand stopped hitting him in the face and was going underneath his chest and he got stronger and stronger. It seemed like the longer I was able to sit, the more he grabbed the bit.
Once I presented him and moved him from behind horses, he really accelerated and I was telling -- I was telling Jim, he is chestnut, right, because I couldn't tell anymore. I said, well, this red colt, he was a fireball down the lane. He was certainly trying to dry his path; he was a rocket down the line. He's a brilliant miler as we know.
To state how I was able to get to today and have confidence to cut the corner, Jimmy and I, we had words in the paddock and he reminded me of the race in Saratoga and he sat back there and he ran as flat as a pancake and never jumped up and down and he can handle sand in his face and that was ultimately important today. It was either shoot out of there and die trying, or cut the corner and give him a chance to be brilliant today, and he was brilliant.
ERIC WING: Were you looking to see if anyone was coming in the stretch or did you realize how far out in front you were?
KENT DESORMEAUX: Once we cornered from home, he stuck his task for a solid 300 yards and I said, "Man, I can't even imagine that anyone is near me," and I looked up at the Jumbotron and they were eight back and I said, "You got 'em, boy, just keep doing what you're doing."
I stopped hissing at him and screaming at him and I actually let him drift at that point. He was straight and true until I let him carry himself to the wire the last 200 yards.

Q. You had a disappointing race in the Suburban; can you give us one reason why he came up with such an improved race?
JAMES JERKENS: Not really. It's just the way he is. He goes in and out of form. That's just the kind of horse he is. You can even see it physically in Saratoga. I can't really explain that Suburban race was too bad. I couldn't really -- I don't know why he ran that bad.
But Saratoga, he never got into shape. He never seemed like he shaped up, like you want fit horses to look like they are going to run their best. He trained sluggish and he just didn't look -- sometimes you just can't put your finger on it. But then when we shipped him back home and gave him a little break and cramped him back up again, he was there for us again.
Just one of the weird things good training that you just cannot really figure out.

Q. I have one thing to say to Kent, down the back side you glanced to your right at the Prussian, here you kept straight --
KENT DESORMEAUX: The reason for glancing to the right on Prussian was there were geese in the middle of the racetrack and I had to scream at my peers, "I'm going out, there are geese in front of me." I went out by the geese five wide and the geese scampered under the rail and that's why I looked over my shoulder to protect my peers. They were eating up the grass on the turf course. (Laughter)

Q. The Met Mile is known as a great race to make a stallion and Corinthian won that already. Certainly today's performance does nothing to diminish his -- it only enhances his future as a stallion. Is that the plan for him in 2008 or is that yet to be decided?
DON LITTLE: Well, we've already negotiated a stallion deal with Gainesway Farm and I'm thinking to myself maybe we can renegotiate and run him again next year. That is the plan. He will be standing at Gainesway in 2008, and, you know, after winning today, the inaugural Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, he is, as Kent said, a brilliant miler and he proved it today.

Q. Is it possible that the stud fee just went up a few thousand dollars?
DON LITTLE: I'd say it went up a few dollars.
KENT DESORMEAUX: Gentlemen, I'm going to beg for your forgiveness, I'm cold and tomorrow is a big day and I need to warm up. I apologize for leaving. Thank you for understanding.

Q. Could you tell us about the Centennial partnership?
DON LITTLE: Well, this particular partnership, normally we do multiple horse partnerships. This was a unique horse. We found him for a individual horse partnership with very few partners involved. There are actually six; four of them were here today, the Horovitzes and Wayne Leizear. Unfortunately two of our bigger and more supportive partners, Mr. Zimmer and Mr. Streicher were not able to make it. We are sorry they could not be here.
Bob Delaney came in from Chicago. There's only six people, because everybody understands the risk of the game and they have been in it for quite a while. People come in and take a piece of one horse, five or six horses, however many we put in a group ask just whatever you feel comfortable with, ten percent, 20 percent; if you want 50, we might even sell you 50. But that's basically how it works.

Q. Jim, you're the son of a legendary legend, Alan Jerkens, the Chief, for whatever reason, he's yet to win a Breeders' Cup race, yet you've now won two after having grabbed the 2005 NetJets Mile with Arty Schiller. Can you talk about the feeling of accomplishment as a father/son to follow in his foot steps and kind of write your own history?
JAMES JERKENS: Yeah, but I think I came into the two Breeders' Cup races with two really good, you know -- a lot better chances going in than I think he did. So it's only fair to say. But yeah, it's been terrific. I got lucky, both horses that I won the Breeders' Cup with, just had that -- they just trained up to the race perfect and at the right time.
ERIC WING: Congratulations.

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