June 26, 2019

2018 Breeders’ Cup Sprint Transcript

Roy H takes center stage under jockey Paco Lopez in the Churchill Downs winner's circle after defending his title in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) on November 3, 2018 (c) Rickelle Nelson/Horsephotos.com

2018 BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT
Saturday, November 3, 2018

Peter Miller
David Bernsen
Brian Trump
Paco Lopez

THE MODERATOR: We’re back live in the press conference room with some familiar faces, the connections of Roy H, who has become the 18th horse ever to win the same Breeders’ Cup race twice, the first since Stormy Liberal did it two and a half hours ago. Okay, left to right for those viewing, on the left, Brian Trump, the racing manager for Rockingham Ranch; winning trainer, Peter Miller; next to Peter is Paco Lopez. This is Paco’s first-ever Breeders’ Cup win. Congratulations. And on the far right, co-owner of Roy H like he’s co-owner of Stormy Liberal, Mr. David Bernsen.

Congratulations to all of you. Since winning is old hat to all three of you, I’m going to start with the newest person to be able to call himself a Breeders’ Cup winner, Paco Lopez. Paco, congratulations. This was a long time coming, but take us through the trip if you would. You weren’t riding Roy H last year in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, but in many ways the race looked very similar to last year’s race.

PACO LOPEZ: Yeah, I’m very lucky in that he’s coming to New York and she give me the opportunity to ride that horse and she win very easy in the second time. I have a lot of trouble in the second, and the third time, I have a choice, Dickinson or Roy H, and I decided to stay with Dickinson, and I picked that horse, and that horse she win easy with that horse. But I know she’s a very nice horse the first time I win, and I know she got a lot of talent.

Q. How did the run go for you today, Paco?

PACO LOPEZ: She charged today. That horse today win with no problem. She knows what’s going on today. She dances, she’s very happy today, and behind, she’s very in the top today. I had a great position, I loved my position, and then she bring (indiscernible) make a leap, I can win easy literally from the front and the three eighth. I let her move a little bit, but I don’t want to strangle (indiscernible) long straight, you can win (indiscernible) I go and I wait, I very confident in that horse (indiscernible).

THE MODERATOR: Peter, by the way, I should have mentioned earlier, but we’re all but certain of the fact you’re the first trainer to win back-to-back Breeders’ Cups with two different horses, so congratulations for that —

PETER MILLER: You mean with two of the same horses?

THE MODERATOR: The first trainer to win back to back Breeders’ Cups with two different horses.

PETER MILLER: Okay.

THE MODERATOR: The same horse twice —

PETER MILLER: I’m confused, too.

THE MODERATOR: You’ve done it twice today between this year and last year, nobody else has done it more than once.

PETER MILLER: Oh, thank you. I kind of knew what you meant.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for clarifying what was a very garbled explanation on my part. Some similarities between Stormy Liberal and Roy H as far as we’re talking about two six-year-old geldings here, again, as we mentioned with Stormy Liberal, that makes for some fun decisions, especially if you’re into the racing game. What do you see — I’m guessing the plane is getting more crowded to Dubai with each passing hour. What do you see, how far do you think — how long do you think Roy H can keep going like this?

PETER MILLER: You know, both these horses are very sound, and they’re easy on themselves, and so as long as they enjoy their job, like they obviously do right now, we’ll just keep going, and when they tell us they’re no longer willing or able to do it, we’ll give them a good retirement.

Q. Peter, right before the race you said you were going to need the good luck, but what did you mean by that? And also, what was going through your head when he made that move on the turn? That was just spectacular.

PETER MILLER: Well, you always need good luck, you know, no matter what. You’ve got to let lucky, even if you feel that you’ve got the best horse. It doesn’t always matter.

I was a little concerned actually when he started moving early on the turn because I had told him, Hey, Paco, it’s a long stretch, just make sure you don’t move too soon, but he said this horse was just on fire and loaded from the get-go, from the time he stepped on the track and warmed him up. He said, I could tell this horse was going to win.

You know, so he gave a great ride. He broke well, got a good position. He saw the horse to beat was coming up inside him, and he wasn’t going to let him beat him to the spot, so he led him out a notch, and it kind of made Imperial Hint check a little bit or take back, and I think that was the move, certainly, that sealed it. But when he made the lead that easy, I didn’t see anyone coming, and I know this horse has a — he’s got a big late kick, so I felt pretty confident even though it was a little earlier than I had mapped out.

Q. Peter, it looked very familiar, this horse winning again this year, but it seemed like his season was quite a bit different this year than last year. Can you kind of describe what he went through this year as compared to last year to get the same job done?

PETER MILLER: Well, we went to Dubai this year. I think that was the main difference, and I think it took him a lot longer to get over Dubai. He wasn’t the same horse in the Bing Crosby. He just — he was flat, and he wasn’t training the way I wanted him to, so we changed some things around.

I took him away from my second string, moved him to the first string at San Luis Rey, changed his exercise boy, changed a little bit of feed, and it just worked. He was just stale. There wasn’t anything wrong with him, he was just — he was bored, and he needed a change of pace, and I know we all can relate to that.

And a jockey change, as well. That was also a big part of it was — I think Paco had ridden him in New York and won easy on him, and then we had that bad luck in the Bing Crosby last year where Drefong got loose and carried us out, and then he had a prior commitment on a horse, I can’t remember, and then the horse ended up not going. It was a whole thing.

You know, everything came full circle. Paco lost the mount, Paco got the mount back, and I couldn’t be happier.

Q. When you think about all things considered with your game plan, jockey change, how you brought Roy H along, very, very rewarding to see this — I know any win is a good win, but how about this one?

PETER MILLER: Extra special. Definitely extra special. You know, I think people were writing him off, and someone — one of the East Coast writers called me and says, you know, Imperial Hint is a different horse this year, and they were trying to scare me or something, said he’s the hype horse. I said, well, the East Coast horses get the hype and the West Coast horses get the money. So you guys can hype all you want out here, we’ll take the money with us.

Q. Paco, how about the opportunity to get back on Roy H for you?

PACO LOPEZ: It’s a great opportunity from the trainer and Peter and the owners. That was a great opportunity for me, again, Roy H, I know that horse, he got a lot of talent, and Peter let (indiscernible) and be second, a lot of horses beat me, and then third time, I decided to stay with Dickinson, I look (indiscernible) so much better looking, very lucky, and she win easy, that horse. Anybody can ride that horse. He’s a very nice horse.

Q. Peter, there are some California trainers who have some trouble shipping to other parts of the country. I know we talked about this a little bit, but talk about the trip to Belmont last year and the trip to Dubai and how much confidence he gave you that he handles — and is it a horse-by-horse kind of — 

PETER MILLER: Yeah, it is. No, definitely, you’ve got to have the right horse. We’re fortunate that we’ve had the right horses to ship across country andacross the world to run with. And this horse, he instills so much confidence. He just does everything so easy. Like Paco said, he’s really an easy horse to ride. He does what the jock wants, moves when they want, and he’s just — he’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse. You know, I’m just very thankful to get the opportunity to train him.

Q. What’s his personality like?

PETER MILLER: Yeah, he’s a sweetheart. He’s a teddy bear. He’s a love. He just loves to be pet on and loved on, and he’s a pleaser. You know, he’s given me more than I could ever give him.

Q. Brian, could you refresh our memories on who Roy H was named for?

BRIAN TRUMP: Roy H was named after Gary’s grandfather, Roy Hartunian, who I’m sure is looking down very proud.

Q. Putting aside the back-to-back victories, could you comment on winning two Breeders’ Cup races in one day as an owner?

DAVID BERNSEN: It’s pretty amazing to have done at Delmar, which is sort of my home track, and then to come out to Churchill, this place, and pull the same thing off. It sort of capped a very tumultuous year, for Peter, especially, he and Brian and Gary and the Rockingham people, myself, where there was — we win two races and then a month later, you know, Brian and I are with Stormy Liberal in Hong Kong, and Peter is dealing with the barns that are burning down. And then a month after that, we’re getting an Eclipse Award. Then a couple of months after that, we’re in Dubai, and both horses ran well.

Roy probably had a bit of trouble that compromised his chances. You know, then two months after that, get a phone call from Peter, which is never good to get a very early morning phone call, and another horse — so he had Bobby Abu Dhabi, which we had hoped to run in this race, died in a training accident. And all of a sudden it comes full circle, and Peter caps off the year about as strong as you could do. You look at ups and downs in horse racing, I don’t think anything illustrates it more than what these guys have gone through the last year.

Q. As an owner, David, those downs you mentioned are pretty low downs.

DAVID BERNSEN: Very low.

Q. Do you ever find yourself questioning your resolve to stay in the game when stuff like that happens?

DAVID BERNSEN: Not me because I’ve been in it for a while. Maybe I’ve come a little bit hard into it. Maybe my wife. But Peter, he deals with these horses every day. But I mean, it’s like children and relatives to him. So we just turn up, and he’s got them all tuned up for a big run.

I try to sort of put myself in his shoes, or Brian, who’s going down to San Luis Rey every week and seeing these horses. And once I do that, I tend to moderate my emotions a little bit more on it and figure, well, let’s just look to the next race, see what happens.

Q. Paco, you’ve been riding successfully for many years. Where does today rank in terms of your career?

PACO LOPEZ: Well, taking the big races, good trainers, tough horses, not too many races can do it, prize winning the Breeders’ Cup, and then and Roy H and Peter (indiscernible) very well with the horse. I can’t imagine taking a picture in the winner’s circle like that.

Q. Is this the biggest win of your career?

PACO LOPEZ: Yeah, and I’m a first-time Breeders’ Cup winner.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, Paco. It’s a great way to chalk up victory No. 1 in your Breeders’ Cup books, and congratulations to Brian Trump, Peter Miller and David Bernsen who have won two in a day for the second straight year at the Breeders’ Cup in really an amazing and historic performance by you and your horses. Congratulations to you and of course to the winner Roy H. Well done.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports