January 24, 2022

2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint Transcript

Four Wheel Drive at Breeders' Cup 2019
Four Wheel Drive at Breeders' Cup 2019 (Horsephotos.com)

2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

Friday, November 1, 2019

  • Wesley A. Ward
  • Mike Hall

THE MODERATOR: Wesley, your impressions of the race as well as this impressive undefeated two-year-old you got.

WESLEY A. WARD: He’s a very, very talented colt. He’s done nothing wrong so far, he’s 3 for 3, he’s got a big, big future next year as a three-year-old. We’re all real excited. It’s always nervous jitters when you’re coming through here trying to get here and trying to get something done, and to actually do it with an American Pharoah is the first crop of — everybody’s got such high expectations for him, and to get it done on the big stage like this in the Breeders’ Cup is just unbelievable.

RELATED: Four Wheel Drive takes Juvenile Turf Sprint to give American Pharoah first Breeders’ Cup win

THE MODERATOR: Can you talk more about being by American Pharoah and debuting on the turf, and was that obvious decision for you or not?

WESLEY A. WARD: I trained his brother as a two-year-old, and he showed affinity for the grass from the mare’s side. That’s the way it went with him from the onset. He’s had some nice works on the dirt, but to me he’s impressed me a little bit more on the grass. And so I just didn’t want to take what worked, and we had a goal to come here to win this race for these guys, and just very hard to do, almost impossible, only one can do it of the whole crop in this particular race. And for him to do it is just outstanding.

THE MODERATOR: Mike, can you talk about what this win means for Breeze Easy.

MIKE HALL: This win is a big day for Breeze Easy. As you know, we have been in the game three, four years, I can’t keep track, it’s not been long, and to do this, to win a Breeders’ Cup race is a pretty big deal, I think.

We were lucky and won a race at Royal Ascot, but this seems more thrilling than that. So I did enjoy Royal Ascot, but this is a beautiful situation. I got to thank Wesley. He puts a lot of hard work into training his horses and does a great job.

I want to also thank Mike Mollica sitting on the right. He’s our racing manager and works closely with Wesley, and they work as a team and just do a wonderful job with all of our horses.

So we are really thrilled. I don’t know what else to say. To have an American Pharoah — I think there was three American Pharoahs made it to the Breeders’ Cup, and to have one to win so far it’s a big deal to us.

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THE MODERATOR: Mike, your partner, Sam Ross, is here as well with his wife Susan. He wasn’t able to make it up to the press conference, but he was obviously very excited after the race. Can you just tell us a little bit about Sam? And I heard after the race that he was talking about how much it meant to win this race in America.

MIKE HALL: Well, you know, Sam and I have been partners in business for a long time, and he is just a super guy. I couldn’t be here today without him. He has helped me a lot in my life, and him and his wife are just the greatest people. He’s like my second dad. So I wish he was feeling better and could have made it up here.

THE MODERATOR: Wesley, curious what’s on your mind, looking forward with an undefeated two-year-old like this that’s obviously very fast and talented.

WESLEY A. WARD: We’ll talk it over with Mike Mollica and Mike and Sam. We talked a little bit on the plane last night. Obviously, for me, it’s well known that I try to go to Royal Ascot, and this colt certainly would be one of the favorites next year to do that as we sit today.

He’s done a lot in a short amount of time, is what I told them. I think he deserves a little bit of a break, a little bit of a letdown and then push forward. But what he’s doing right now being a turf sprinter, there’s not a lot until the springtime. So we’ll sit down with the boys, not saying that he can’t go on the dirt, and make a big plan here.

THE MODERATOR: On the dirt but also longer too, is that a possibility, or do you think he’s definitely a sprinter?

WESLEY A. WARD: He’s certainly got a beautiful mind, as you see. He’s done everything so far that we have asked of him. He popped out there today and kind of pricked his ears and kind of cruised around real nice. So certainly on — from the onset, I thought for sure he could definitely go a mile. But it’s hard to change with what he’s very effective at right now.

But, again, like I say, we’ll sit down with the team, and we’ll make a plan and hopefully make the right decisions.

THE MODERATOR: Was it essentially the plan to run them off their heels and let them come and get him, or was that just his natural speed?

WESLEY A. WARD: I kind of left that. I always leave my — I tell a little bit of the antics and the — to the horses to the jockeys, and when the gate opens, for the most part, 80 percent of the time your plan, it changes.

So I always like to have jockeys that can adapt and know that that’s okay with me. Today the plan was going into the race, if they were kind of blazing out there early, to sit back a little bit. But he broke so well, and Irad just kind of took it to him and changed and adapted and called an audible, and it worked.

THE MODERATOR: Any questions in the room?

Q. Wesley, congratulations. From being around Four Wheel Drive so much, what type of characteristics does he have that remind you most of American Pharoah, and did he show that today at all?
WESLEY A. WARD: His demeanor. American Pharoah, from what I seen, was a very docile horse. He could go anywhere and took everything in and he was almost like a stable pony.

And this guy’s the same way. Mike came over to the barn today, and we brought him out, and you would have thought he was here for the last seven years. He came out, had his head down, and we were petting him, and he dropped his head, and he’s just a wonderful horse and a great demeanor. There’s no pre-race antics that you have to worry about with him.

Q. For Mike, can you just talk about what encouraged you to get involved in racing as an owner and the name of your partner again, I couldn’t catch that.
MIKE HALL: Well, it’s kind of a long story, I happened to be in Ocala and a friend of mine asked me to go over to the horse sale and I rode over with him and Phyllis and I and we ran across a little horse that we thought was looked pretty good and we bought the horse. And his name was Biography, he wasn’t the greatest horse by no means, but that kind of got us started.

And then I was kind of ashamed to tell my partner, Sam Ross, that I was getting into race horse business, but he showed up at my house there a few weeks later and I told him I had to get down and check on the horse and he said, What kind of a horse do you have? And I said, Well I bought a race horse.

So we went down to the barn and looked at the horse — and I think I told the story before — he said, Well, I think you are probably going to want to ride around on my airplane to see this horse run and he said maybe I ought to just be your partner, and I said, Well, you’re in. So it wasn’t a problem getting him as a partner we just have had a lot of fun since then.

And we bought a lot of horses, we bought some good ones and we have had a few bad ones like everybody else does. But it is a dream come true to be able to do something like we have done here.