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November 4, 2011
CHURCHILL DOWNS, KENTUCKY
THE MODERATOR: We're joined now by the winning connections of Royal Delta, who most assuredly won herself an Eclipse award, one would think, as the champion 3-year-old filly. Congratulations.
I know second from our left is Ron Wallace, who is the racing manager for the estate of Prince Saud bin Khaled. Ron, if you would be kind enough to introduce to us the woman on your right, who I'm not familiar with.
KAREN WOODS: Karen Woods.
THE MODERATOR: Of course, thank you. Also with us, of course, Bill Mott, the winning trainer. His second consecutive Ladies' Classic win as a trainer. His fourth Ladies' Classic victory overall, and his seventh Breeders' Cup win in all the races combined. Bill also trained Ajina in 1997 to a Ladies' Classic win; 1998 was Escena; last year 2010, Unrivaled Belle. On our far right is jockey Jose Lezcano, who is celebrating his second Breeders' Cup win. He won back in 2008 with Maram, who ironically Prince Khaled and Karen Woods were involved with as co-owners there. So happy coincidence with our non- training connections there with Maram and also Royal Delta.
Congratulations to all of you. Bill, you've exuded confidence this week without blowing your horn, but everybody seems to be saying that your horses are all training well. You haven't disagreed with anybody on that score. Certainly, what we saw out there with Royal Delta was very impressive, closing despite less than blistering fractions out there. She must have really raced up to your expectations, I take it.
WILLIAM MOTT: Well, she really did. At the eighth pole or approaching the eighth pole, I started to think, well, I hope the fractions were fast enough for us to get there. I started to get a little worried because the speed seemed to be carrying very well.
About the time I started to worry, I saw her starting to gain the momentum. Once she got to them, it was adios, see you later. She ran really well. She ran up to the way she's been training.
My staff, everybody around her has done a tremendous, tremendous job. We're so fortunate to have a filly like this. I mean, we recognized her as a nice filly before she ever ran. After she ran the first time, I mean, it looked like she was probably better than we even thought she was. She's just continued on that path.
She was a little immature here in the spring. We had the option of possibly running in the Kentucky Oaks, but we thought she only had three races underneath her belt. With that, we took an easier route with her and went to a race in Pimlico with the smaller field. She won the Black-Eyed Susan, and, of course, then with the extra experience that she got, she was ready for today.
She came into Kentucky. We've been here for four weeks. We got dug in here just to try to get the job done.
THE MODERATOR: You certainly did that, Bill. And so did you, Jose. Could you take us through your journey around the track? Were you concerned at all about a slow pace developing? It looked like Plum Pretty was just kind of galloping along on the front end by herself. What were your thoughts as you went around the racetrack?
JOSE LEZCANO: She was going good the first two. I know that the pace was slow. The way my feelings go, I was very confident. I feel very comfortable with the way she was going.
THE MODERATOR: Ron, I'm sure this is a happy moment but not without a bitter sweet or melancholy feelings as well. Prince Khaled of Saudi Arabia passed away earlier this year. I know that his racing holdings are going to be disbursed by his estate.
Can you comment on Prince Khaled's passion for the game, his investment -- and by that I mean, heart and soul -- into thoroughbred racing and what this victory means for those of you who are close to him?
KAREN WOODS: Absolute ultimate for him, and he was so passionate about the horses. He loved the farm and every horse. He knew them all well. He did all the matings.
He was able to see her maiden win, so he knew how good she probably was going to be. Unfortunately, he didn't get to see how great -- it's definitely the best horse he's ever bred. We foaled her dame and raised her dame at Chanteclair and same way with her. He was just a wonderful man. It's just a shame that his sons don't have the same passion that he does for the sport.
THE MODERATOR: Karen, can you just walk us through what's going to take place with the horse from this point forward? Somebody's going to get quite a filly.
KAREN WOODS: I really wish I knew how to answer that, but we really don't know. She's just going to go through the dispersal. Whoever buys her, we hope she'll stay with Bill Mott, and she'll continue to be the best horse she's been.
THE MODERATOR: And that's going to take place when?
KAREN WOODS: At Keeneland. The following Tuesday. Whoever buys from Chanteclair farm, we've raised 22 percent stake winners off of that farm. The soil's been magic. The personnel have been great. Veterinarian support there. We've just had a great team, and it's been a passion that we've built for over 26 years. It will go. It will be great.
THE MODERATOR: So a lot of changes in the offing. As always, members of the media upstairs are welcome to ask a question.
Q. Talk about the magic and greatness. Was the final furlong of this race just a culmination of that? And anybody can answer that. Was it just a culmination of the magic and greatness that Royal Delta has had all year?
WILLIAM MOTT: Well, I think distance has never been a problem for this filly. She won the Alabama going 1 1/4 mile, and obviously the 1 1/8 mile, she's got enough stamina. She's got enough speed to stay within the range of pace, and she's got a very good turn of foot. I was hoping the track would be solid enough for her to get a hold of, and obviously it was. She's got a lot of finish to her.
Jose let her get into a very nice rhythm, and I think that's the whole thing with her, not to get in her way and just let her find her best cruising speed. When it's time, ask her for a little more, and she gives it to you.
I think she's become experienced enough now throughout the year to do that. Early in the year, she was a little confused about some of those things. She would be a little rank and a little anxious early in the race when she wasn't supposed to be. Finally now she's waiting for the rider to give her her signal.
When it's time to go that last quarter mile, she gives you a nice kick. She looked like she stayed straight today and stayed on the proper lead. I haven't had a chance to see the rerun yet.
It's been a great family. She's a well bred filly. I was lucky enough I trained her mother, and I did train her grandmother for a while. I feel like she's part of my family.
Q. This is a question for Jose and Bill. Were you worried about the fractions at all?
WILLIAM MOTT: Well, I mean, I can probably answer that. I guess Jose was in the middle of her. I'm sure he felt comfortable where she was at. Although he doesn't have a teletimer out there, he's probably got a pretty good clock in his head.
I had the luxury of looking at the teletimer and hearing the announcer knowing they went in 49 and change, and I thought that's a little slow. You always worry about that. Pace always makes the race. But I think it's a testament to the filly's ability and the fact that she does have a good turn of foot to close in on a slow pace like that.
We were five or six lengths back, which wasn't too bad, but to close into that sort of pace, I think, is -- we've got to give the filly a lot of credit for that, and I also give Jose a lot of credit for having her where she found her rhythm and her stride. Give her the opportunity to give that final kick.
Q. Congratulations on that filly, Bill Mott. You said her first career start surprised you a little bit, thought she might be better than what you initially thought. Talk about what you saw in her first start.
WILLIAM MOTT: I think what happens, when you get some of these good horses and they've got a good disposition, it was no different with her. She was very nice to gallop. We didn't have to have a special exercise rider on her or anything. She just went around, did her work.
She would finish her breezes. She might finish a half a length in front or a length in front. We were never asking her for a life in the morning. Actually, when I ran her, I looked back on her training chart and said, you know, nobody's ever finished in front of this filly although she may have been ahead in front or a neck in front, just usually on the bridle and just doing enough to get her fit. We just wanted to get her to races.
The first time she ran, she broke a little tardy from the gate. She was in traffic. Jose had her. You could see down the back side or he was going into the turn. He's fishing for a spot to give her a chance to run and kind of came in and angled out.
All of a sudden, it opened up, and she went away. She made the lead just passing the quarter pole, and I thought, well, now we'll see if she's good enough to get a piece of this. I mean, she actually did make the lead. I thought, well, she doesn't really have to win from here. She's done a lot of running around the turn from the three-eighth pole to the three-quarter pole.
All of a sudden, she starts pulling away, and we went whoa. It was really impressive because it wasn't just a win, it was a very impressive win. You could tell after watching that she was something very special.
Q. And also, it's pretty unique to have three generations. Do you see similar traits in this family from the horses you ran?
WILLIAM MOTT: Do I see more what?
Q. Do you see similar traits in each of those horses, like Delta Princess?
WILLIAM MOTT: Royal Delta's mother, Delta Princess, won her first start and was very impressive. The only thing is this filly has a much better disposition. She's much calmer. Delta Princess was actually quite a handful even to get the saddle on her at times. She was a good filly, but never I would say that this filly has really gone a notch further. I mean, she proved that today.
She's a big, strong, sound filly. There should be some good things to come. Whoever gets her would probably look forward to having a nice year with her next year if they decide to race her again. I'd say at this point there would be no reason not to do that. I'd be happy enough to be her trainer if somebody wants that to happen.
Q. Can you tell us at Belmont the track was muddy? That was a good experience for the filly. Again, when you won the Belmont Stakes in 2003, you won in pouring rain. My question is how much did the soft course today contribute to your success?
WILLIAM MOTT: I don't know. The track was a little mucky at Belmont last time she ran. I'm not sure it really favored her.
I think Butch Lear did a good job of getting our track back in shape today. I think by the time we ran, the footing was pretty good. We've had a tremendous amount of rain yesterday and last night, and it was the worst kind of rain you could get because it was kind of a slow, misty, drizzling rain, and the track took on a lot of water.
We've got to give them a lot of credit for getting that situation straightened out, and even by the first race today, it was pretty good. It got better throughout the day. The filly handled it.
I would say that maybe the track at Belmont last time didn't have the same chance to probably dry out. It was probably a little bit muckier. Wouldn't have favored her maybe as much as the track did today.
But last time that's not taken anything away from a champion older filly like Havre de Grace. She was a good competitor. I think our filly got a lot out of the race. I think she -- sometimes defeat is not the worst thing. It just came at the right time and propelled us into a wonderful win today.
Q. What did you think when you saw her making her move to go to the front? Was there any thoughts going through your head, like is she going to make it there in time or anything like that?
WILLIAM MOTT: I wondered between the quarter pole and the eighth pole, I wasn't sure. I'm not sitting in the middle of her. Jose probably felt fairly confident. You can ask him that question.
Leaving the quarter pole, I think I heard him say he felt pretty good about her. But you're sitting up in the grandstand and watching her come, and you know that when they go in 49 and change in the fractions that they set, the horses on the front end are going to have something left. So I think we were trying to catch horses that still had a little steam left, and she was just good enough to do it.
THE MODERATOR: Bill, let me ask you, before we get to our next question. Does this great win by Royal Delta, looking ahead to tomorrow, you have two shots in the Classic with Drosselmeyer and To Honor and Serve. As great as you feel about Royal Delta's win today, does her performance make you a little more fearful tomorrow of Havre de Grace?
WILLIAM MOTT: Well, I have a good deal of respect for Havre de Grace, and I have a good deal of respect for other horses that are in the race. I think it's a great field. Flat Out is a very good horse. He's coming off of a good race, and I think the filly is an exceptional filly. She was one of the best top two older fillies in the country this year. I don't think there was any question about that.
I think Blind Luck got a good thing going for the public. It's just a shame that Blind Luck couldn't be in the Classic with her. I'm glad for our sake, and I'm happy enough that Havre de Grace went in the Classic. But I think our filly ran well.
I think what she said earlier about with the other two good 3-year-old fillies being in there, I think this put us in very good position for an Eclipse award for our mare.
The Classic is a good race tomorrow. Havre de Grace is in there, a lot of good horses. My horses are training very well. I just hope they show up as well as the filly did today.
Q. For Bill Mott and Jose Lezcano, were you ever concerned about the track conditions because Royal Delta never ran in the slop? Were you worried about the track being dried up?
WILLIAM MOTT: I felt like this morning he had the inside of this track pretty well packed down. Although there was some moisture on top, it had a pretty good base underneath it. This morning we were on the track, the outside was pretty well chewed up and pretty mucky. It was not pretty.
He had the inside, the pads, the one, two, three, four, five pads in pretty good order. We actually put a horse out this morning and felt pretty comfortable with it.
This filly has been training over this type -- we've been here for almost a month with her. She's trained over wet sealed tracks in the morning, and she's handled it very well. She seems to get over it good. I wasn't real worried about the track condition. I thought she was fine.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Well, seeing no further questions, Karen Woods, Ron Wallace, Bill Mott, Jose Lezcano, congratulations on a great performance and in all likelihood a championship for Royal Delta. Congratulations.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports