ELMONT, NEW YORK
THE MODERATOR: All right, everyone, we're joined now by the owner of the winner of the 146th Belmont Tonalist that owner is Robert Evans thank you for joining us down here. Congratulations. Maybe to start, we should just ask you your impressions of the race and how you saw it unfold.
ROBERT EVANS: We were a little bit nervous about having the outside post, how he would react to the crowd and he was perfect, he didn't it didn't bother him a bit and he broke well, got a good position and he rode him beautifully.
THE MODERATOR: To have this race success, inevitably you had to be a Triple Crown spoiler, your thoughts on that.
ROBERT EVANS: We loved California Chrome, we hoped he would win the Triple Crown, but we love our horse too.
THE MODERATOR: Tell us about his last few weeks with the Peter Pan.
ROBERT EVANS: He was sick before the Wood Memorial, we couldn't run him in it, so we couldn't run in the Derby so we aimed for the Peter Pan and Christophe Clement did a good job of getting him ready for the Peter Pan and he surprised me, it wasn't a very nice day, there were thunderstorms, lots of rain and a muddy track and he just galloped and that's the clue he was a good horse because he was only three‑quarters fit so we had four weeks to get ready for this and Christophe had him just right.
THE MODERATOR: The ride that Joel gave him today, talk about the trip.
ROBERT EVANS: He was in perfect position, he was happy with the 11th post, allowed him to get the horse into stride and do what he wanted to do with him and he did that.
THE MODERATOR: Can you tell us more of the back story of how you acquired this horse and also getting him to the races?
ROBERT EVANS: Well, Fasig‑Tipton is a horse sale in Saratoga every year and I had two horses with Wayne and Cathy Sweezey to sell for me which they were unsuccessful in selling. They also had Tonalist and they were unsuccessful in selling him. And Cathy Sweezey urged me, ten times probably, to look at the horse and dragged me back and I said I didn't get any money for the other horses, I don't have any money to spend on him. She said you've got to buy this horse. He didn't sell so they discounted him substantially and I said finally, all right, I'll buy him. She made me do it.
THE MODERATOR: He's very lightly raised, he was late getting to the race as a two year old.
Q. Why was he late getting started and talk about his campaign.
ROBERT EVANS: He's 17 hands, a great big boy, sort of like his grandfather Pleasant Colony. Christophe doesn't push horses, he takes great care of his horses and I'm patient, I've been in the game a long time, and I know you have to be patient, take care of the horse and that's what we did.
THE MODERATOR: Just tell us a little bit more about the feeling of being the Belmont Stakes winner. How did it feel?
ROBERT EVANS: I was slightly surprised. And it's great. I mean, I've been in this game a long time. I told somebody this morning that I've been in 50 years, I can't wait another 50 years to win a race.
THE MODERATOR: Questions from the room first.
Q. Steven Coburn has said that he feels any horse that enters the Triple Crown either races in all three or none at all if they don't have the points to get to the Derby they shouldn't be in the Triple Crown. What's your retort to that?
ROBERT EVANS: I have no comment on that.
Q. Mr. Evans, you mentioned Pleasant Colony, could you talk about your family's involvement in this Triple Crown series and how satisfying it is to maybe put the period on an incomplete sentence from the past?
ROBERT EVANS: Well, very satisfying actually. Yesterday I went to my father's grave and thanked him for putting me in the position to be doing this and I came in 1981 to the Belmont, we had high hopes for Pleasant Colony, I've been where Steven Coburn's been and it's not fun when you don't win.
It was very quiet after he didn't win. He was a wonderful horse. And it's very satisfying to be able to make up for that. My brother was a great breeder and owner and did really well in the business and so did my father and I've kind of tagged along behind them, but now they're both gone and I feel I have to fill their shoes, if I can.
Q. Yeah, we actually talked yesterday and you talked about how fortunate you have to be to even get a horse in a race like this. So in winning it, did you sort of reflect on all of the horses that you had and your family's had and how remarkable it is to get one to this point?
ROBERT EVANS: It's remarkable to even have one in a race like this and then to win it, I think we were 11 to 1 odds. We had one chance in 11 of winning and that means that you probably aren't going to.
THE MODERATOR: Do people confuse you for the chairman of Churchill Downs Incorporated?
ROBERT EVANS: In Canada they call me ‑‑ my middle name is Sheldon, most people call me Shel. Here I'm Robert, which is his name. I don't like the association and just leave it at that.
Q. I just wonder what it's like, how does it feel watching your horse win this? Do you feel like you're riding him or do you maybe feel like you're running the mile‑and‑a‑half yourself? What is it like?
ROBERT EVANS: I feel like I don't want to watch. I didn't even watch the stretch run very well.
Q. Does the fact that Pleasant Colony broodmare sire enter into your willingness to listen to Ms. Sweezey?
ROBERT EVANS: Yes, it did, Pleasant Colony is a very good broodmare sire, underrated broodmare sire, those of you in the business know that a lot of breeders breed 200 mares a year. My father would not breed more than 36 mares a year, thought that was plenty so he didn't breed nearly as many but his statistics were wonderful. 
THE MODERATOR: Do you have any thoughts on potential changes to the Triple Crown format?
ROBERT EVANS: I actually think it would be better to spread it out a little bit. It's better for the horses and it would be better to promote it I think, a lot more time to create interest. Racing has a problem in that it doesn't believe in marketing or selling itself and it should do more of that but the time wouldn't do any good if racing didn't promote itself.
Q. Follow up on that, it wouldn't be a difficult problem, right?
THE MODERATOR: Follow up, would it be easier then if the races were spaced out further.
ROBERT EVANS: I don't know. Things change in the world.
Q. You said you went to the graveside yesterday, where is that?
ROBERT EVANS: In Connecticut.
Q. Any plans at this point for the summer for the horse?
ROBERT EVANS: At this point, no. I mean, we got to look at how he comes out of the race and how he does and give him time to get over it. Of course, we would love to aid for the travelers, you can dream. As Christophe says we made the dream come true so far, we have high dreams for him. He said early on when he knew how good, that he was a really good horse, he wanted him to have a career, he wanted him to have a career.
THE MODERATOR: If you could just talk about Christophe and the job he's done training this horse, especially bringing him up to the Belmont.
ROBERT EVANS: He's obviously a world class trainer. He has a reputation which he resents of being a grass trainer and I think rightly so. I think a good trainer can train horses to do anything. Some horses like to run better on grass than they do dirt. This horse likes to run on dirt. We're not going to show him grass except to eat it.
Q. Where in the run did you know that you were going to win this?
ROBERT EVANS: Right at the end when I saw the photo.
Q. Were you here for Belmont 1981 and what do you remember about how deflating that was when Pleasant Colony didn't win?
ROBERT EVANS: He didn't have a very good ride in the race, he got too far behind and came running to the stretch and it was clear he wasn't going to get there and it was very disappointing, it was very quiet in our box, my father, my brother, and myself, we turned around and walked out. That was it.
THE MODERATOR: It was a heck of a day at Belmont Park today. Can you talk about this record crowd and just the experience of this big bell meant stakes?
ROBERT EVANS: I think it's fabulous. I was on the NYRA board for 12 years and I think the day today was spectacular, couldn't be better in any way, I've never seen the races like this. Ogden Phipps was three of the best Fillies I've ever seen in one race and I think it was just great. So exciting and this is the way racing ought to be.
Q. You still have the breeding farm in Virginia and how many horses do you have?
ROBERT EVANS: I have a farm in Maryland.
Q. Maryland? How many horses do you have?
ROBERT EVANS: I have a lot of horses, they aren't all there.
THE MODERATOR: Can you elaborate, tell us more details on your operation and where the horses are?
ROBERT EVANS: I'd rather not.
THE MODERATOR: Fair enough. Well, congratulations again. The winner of the Belmont Stakes, Tonalist, Mr. Evans. Thanks for being here.
ROBERT EVANS: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
ELMONT, NEW YORK
Q. Sorry you didn't get the result you were looking for. Tell us how you feel right now.
VICTOR ESPINOZA: Well, I think like everybody else. It's not easy, but it's just crazy. I always ready for the work, for the best and the worst and today, today I feel like we don't have enough to be able to win this race.
THE MODERATOR: In the Preakness you were able to shift out early in the race, you were inside for the first part of today, did that make a difference? Were you comfortable early on?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: Well, after the race, you can always look back and think about it, maybe make different, maybe no. I really, I don't think it makes that much difference. It's just I feel like he, he was a little bit empty today.
THE MODERATOR: When did you first start to feel that?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: I would say by the five pole. It's not like before. I'm not sure if it was because ‑‑ he swing to the outside, early half a mile and put him in the clear, and I thought it was the best for me. He move out just a little bit, the horse in front of me and he got a little bit intimidated, he's never done that before, that was the first time, I noticed that he got just a little bit shy in there.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Victor, please.
Q. Victor, around the 3‑16th pole, you were right alongside the winner.
VICTOR ESPINOZA: No, I was empty at the three‑eighths.
Q. Leading up to it, you said California Chrome looked good, looked healthy, ready to go seemed like 100 percent, today you said in the race it seemed like something was missing. Can you explain that?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: Well, that's races, that's why it's so tough. It's tough to win this race. I wish I could explain it, why, you know, he didn't perform like before but I feel like he was not really like in this race today, I mean, maybe a little bit earlier even when he came out of the gate, for a minute, I thought I was going to let him go in front. I thought it was too much. He was a little bit slow and there was one horse in front of me and I don't want to rush, I thought it was too early to take the lead. One of those things that, you know, sometimes you make the right thing, sometimes not. I feel like California Chrome he was not the same like before. That's why I make my decision to wait a little longer. Before, you know, he running and he take me right in the race, he helped me. Today, I feel like his energy, he was not the same like before. So that's why I decided just to wait a little bit longer, behind other horse?
Q. Did you sense any of that in the post parade?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: No.
THE MODERATOR: We want to go to Alan Sherman.
Q. Alan, give us your impression of the race.
ALAN SHERMAN: You know, the horse tried hard. It's a long hard ride on these young horses and that's why the Triple Crown is so tough to win. It's just, you know, the horse tried, that's all I can ask for. He took me on the ride of my life, always have that in my heart for that horse.
THE MODERATOR: What did you see in the running of the race as you were watching?
ALAN SHERMAN: I thought he was in pretty good shape, I saw when Victor started to squeeze on him a little, he didn't respond like he had in the past. Just, he was just a little wore out, I think.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Alan.
Q. Alan, did you talk to your dad? How's he doing?
ALAN SHERMAN: Haven't talked to him.
Q. Curious, the fact that he never ran on this track at all a factor that he didn't take to the surface or what?
ALAN SHERMAN: I don't know. Victor seemed to think he handled the surface fine.
Q. A lot of people around the country just sort of thought of Chrome as a fair retail and looked up to him. Do you think he looked so, sort of represented what everybody wanted?
ALAN SHERMAN: I think he did. He did for me, that's all that matters, he did for us. Whatever everybody else thinks, it doesn't matter.
THE MODERATOR: Did you get a look at him afterwards? He came out okay?
ALAN SHERMAN: He looked fine.
Q. Victor, Tell us how you feel.
VICTOR ESPINOZA: Regardless of what happens today, I believe it's one of the best horses I ever rode in my career and I have tremendous, tremendous ride with him, you know, it's just, unexpected, we reach almost to the top, you know. Just one step away to get to the top. You know, it's tough, it's tough for California Chrome to come back three weeks, mile‑and‑a‑half. This race is just tough. And probably one of the horses that can run most of the races, most races than any other horse in the field, the horse is fresh. It's just not easy.
But like I said, regardless what happens, we move on and I'm just honored to be with him and have such a nice ride with all his victories that we had with him.
Q. Victor, when do you think we'll see another Triple Crown winner? Will we?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: I hope so. This one, the second time, you know what, the last time that I been here, today I don't feel bad because California Chrome, he was, he was just a little bit empty today.
Q. Can a horse win a Triple Crown these days?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: I'm sure one of these days, he will. Sooner or later, we need to break this, this bad, you know, karma.
THE MODERATOR: Victor, can you tell us about the conversations you had strategy wise coming into the race and did you ever have thoughts about going street to the lead?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: Yeah, I thought I would let it go. I notice something as soon as he came out of the gate, he was not the same and I was just in my position, I don't want to use him in the first turn because it's a mile‑and‑a‑half. And if you use him in there, I'm going to use like two or three lengths early and for that, I thought I was going to be a nightmare.
So when I decide just to stay behind a little bit and I know he was, half mile ‑‑ by the five‑eight pole he was empty. I kind of move out to see if he could make a difference, but no.
Q. The nasal strip controversy affect the race at all?
VICTOR ESPINOZA:I think it's helping more his nose to get more inside.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
ELMONT, NEW YORK
THE MODERATOR: We are fortunate to have Joel Rosario in the film theater here. Joel, if you would, take us through the Belmont trip.
JOEL ROSARIO: First of all, hello, everybody. I was on the outside the whole way and, you know, big horse and, you know, helping him go the mile‑and‑a‑half.
THE MODERATOR: It was pretty much how I imagined you would have drawn him up, couldn't have been easy, the trip on the outside.
JOEL ROSARIO: He was going easy, I tried to turn around a little bit and tried to be in a good position, I don't want to be too far behind because, you know, mile‑and‑a‑half, it's quickly, the pace.
THE MODERATOR: At what point did you feel like you were a winner?
JOEL ROSARIO: When I past the three pole, I know the horse, he's a big horse by himself. I was very confident. I kind of worried a little bit, you know, he's kind of, you know, he stayed there for a little bit and the horse come to him but he out after that.
THE MODERATOR: Obviously, part of the story is you do have to play the role of spoiler on California Chrome, your thoughts on ending the Triple Crown.
JOEL ROSARIO: I was rooting for him to be good for racing and all that, you know, too bad that happened for him.
THE MODERATOR: Couple more for Joel.
Q. Where did you feel you needed to be at the top of the stretch? Normally if you're behind third, you don't win?
JOEL ROSARIO: The top of the stretch, I was outside the whole way and I knew I was going to be there, my horse was going easy and I just tried to stay there, you know, one horse, just keep on going. I don't want to be on the inside.
Q. I'm sure there was a point in the Preakness where you thought you might get to California Chrome where you were going down the stretch. Today when did you know that California Chrome maybe didn't have it?
JOEL ROSARIO: In the beginning of the first turn, I could see him, he was in a little bit of trouble, you know, inside, to get in his position and I was on the outside, have a clean trip the whole way.
THE MODERATOR: Joel, you got 14 minutes to post.
JOEL ROSARIO: I got to go. Thank you, guys.
THE MODERATOR: Now we're joined by the winning trainer of the Belmont Stakes, Christophe Clement. Christophe, congratulations. Let's just start with the race itself and if you could give us your impressions of Tonalist today.
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: I thought he ran a great race. I enjoy watching the replay again. You know, I thought he trained very well going into the race, I enjoyed, all the instruction was just keep him comfortable. I didn't really care if it was the pace, as long as the horse was comfortable because he works and the way he trains, he's got an amazing rhythm. The important thing is just keep him in that rhythm for a mile‑and‑a‑half. You can see the horse is gradually getting closer to the pace, just at his own rhythm. You can see on the quarter post to the wire, he almost looks from the quarter pole and stays and stays and stays and comes back into the race and comes back.
THE MODERATOR: And tell us about the finish then and at what point did you feel like you were a winner watching it.
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: Just to the wire, you can see in the back stretch it's very easy, but California Chrome is easy, three or four horses doing as well as us, we're not the only one. As the race progressed we moved there, a bit wide all the way but you had no choice and the further he runs the better.
I always believe in pedigree, at some stage pedigree kicks in. His is a mare by Pleasant Colony. He has a tremendous amount of stamina and might be the reason why the further you run the better.
THE MODERATOR: Your first Triple Crown win and you spend a lot of time in New York except for the winners, you're here, tell us what it means to you.
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: It means a lot. I came here in 1991, I've always been very lucky, I always trained for great owners. Why, maybe because my dad was a trainer or I'm not sure why but I started with a strong stable with great owners, a stable group with four owners and the success that we all have as trainers, really depends about who you train for because obviously, you know, between races, the faster horse and so on. This race wins a lot because it's Belmont and even if I'm French I consider myself a New Yorker and I enjoy this for a while.
THE MODERATOR: Obviously the story coming in was a potential Triple Crown, you had to play the spoiler. Your thoughts.
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: I don't like that, everybody's trying to say something negative. Nothing negative. California Chrome did a great thing, he won the Kentucky, won the Preakness great. He came here a week or so he breezed at 5:35 in the morning, five or six hundred people to see him. It's great. This is what racing is. There's nothing negative. I trained for this, of course I'm going to try to do everything I can to win the race and I'm very happy with Tonalist and I'm sure we will manage to find a way to sleep tonight, no disappointment.
THE MODERATOR: Can you talk about Tonalist's progression this year? He's a lightly‑raced horse.
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: A lot of people think it's a negative. I disagree. I thought it was a positive. He came from Florida. He missed the Wood. Whenever we speak to Mr. Evans it comes up first which is not always the case and by missing the Wood we didn't have enough points to make it to the Derby. Forget about the Derby and the plan B was the Peter Pan and it worked out, we came at about Belmont, trained at Belmont, trained very well in the morning.
I was a little bit surprised, I'm not a gambler, I just hoped he would be better but that's okay. You can't read the ball and that's fine.
THE MODERATOR: Can you talk about the home‑field advantage at Belmont, we've seen this before, being a local horse.
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: I think there's always a small home‑field advantage. Doesn't matter if it's turf, I train that way. Every day I train on the main track. I don't train on the training track. We go every day it's really, it's perfectly normal surroundings. The other horse, California Chrome, went to the Kentucky Derby, went to Preakness, came to the Belmont, it's enormous amount of things very quickly plus it's three races in five weeks. There's something to be said about having a fresh horse on the home court.
Q. Christophe, you've made such a great reputation with your excellence with turf horses but I know even earlier you said you're not just a turf‑horse trainer. Can you talk about, first of all, how exciting it was to have a talented three year old on the Triple Crown field and address people who think you're very, very good with turf horses?
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: It's always good. I used to complain about this, said the same story, one day Bill Mott told me you shouldn't be upset about being labeled something, I'm not complaining about anything.
I did train a real nice horse, turf Dynever, a dirt horse, ran in the Derby ‑‑ ran in the Belmont. Finished fourth to Empire Maker and was not a bad horse. He placed in the Classic, and he placed in the World Cup. Two of the richest races on earth. Never been lucky enough to win a Triple Crown race before today. I can live with it.
I, myself, am very comfortable training on dirt or turf. Finished second yesterday in a race doing two miles in the dirt in the park, running a horse tomorrow in dirt. It's not a big deal for me. I just think, you know, we just try to adapt our training and way of thinking is whatever we get.
THE MODERATOR: Earned how much?
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: Quite a bit of money.
Q. Do you speak to Tonalist in Spanish, French, how does that go?
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: I don't understand much of what he says. I did not give him much instruction, a lot of people came to me, when you use the type riders I used to give some instruction to some of the riders and I've changed a lot over the last three or four years, I think it's a mistake. The reason why they're the leading riders is because they've got better intuition than most people. I think rather than telling somebody that the horse may have a great turn of foot or finishes better on the other side or is slow from the gate, or just one thing, in this case, I talked to him three times about the race and every time, I said the same thing, just keep him comfortable, as long as the horse is comfortable and in his own rhythm, things will be good.
Q. Steve Coburn says it's unfair if you don't come into all the Triple Crown races you shouldn't come into any of them. How do you feel about his statement saying that?
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: No comment.
Q. How did Tonalist's discounted purchase price affect your expectations for the horse?
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: Not at all. The first time I saw Tonalist he was training with Bill Harrigan who trains all the younger horses for Mr. Evans, and I was not aware that of the price at the time, I just saw him train. He was not impressive at all when I saw him in January and February, he was just a horse and as the year went on, as a two‑year‑old he trained better and better. As a two‑year‑old he was not an impressive type of horse: too tall, too leggy, needs time to fill out. He was not a precocious speedy type.
THE MODERATOR: We talked a lot about the Pleasant Colony mare, talked about Tapit.
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: Unfortunately they don't have enough of them but he's done great and every weekend you see Stakes winners. The few have been very good to us and I would like to have more, tell you the truth.
Q. You said there was nothing negative about‑‑ I'm just wondering if you keep racing like Chrome did‑‑
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: I don't know. Chrome was wonderful but don't think it's a negative, the horse might come back, might be the Travers, might be the Breeders' Cup. I don't think the story is finished. He may come back. I think it's wonderful to see the larger crowd and the excitement. I think it's wonderful to see it.
The Triple Crown itself, you know, obviously it's tough. If it would be easier to do it, then it would mean nothing. You have a very good race.
Q. Do you think the format should be changed?
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: I don't have the knowledge. I'm not smart enough to answer. My feeling is no because if you space it out more, then I'm not sure you actually make it easier because things change through the year.
Q. I think your boss said the opposite.
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: That's okay. That's why we like each other. I'm not sure. I'm not sure. In the case about not running in all the Triple Crown races, I'm not sure it should be strict.
THE MODERATOR: Lot of the top three‑year‑olds will get a break now, you've got a pretty fresh horse. Are you going to keep on? What are you doing for the summer?
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: I'm going to find a race for the summer. Let's see if he comes out of it. Obviously you have to think about all the major races for three‑year‑olds, Ascot, Travers, we know about all the races but we don't have to decide now, just enjoy it a little bit.
Q. Mr. Evans said his hope would be the Travers and you keep going racing your horse up at Saratoga. How nice would it be to have a serious contender in that one?
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: That would be great. Mr. Evans wants to put pressure on me at day one. I want to go home, have a nice glass of wine, maybe watch the race. This is a great horse.
Q. You also have a great reputation for not having any drug infractions or anything like that. What do you think has been the key to your success in not ever having to turn to anything like that?
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: It's the discipline, the people who work with you are disciplined. You can avoid most medication problems. I belong to a culture where we only treat horses who are sick and that's my culture and I like to keep it that way.
8:00, 8:07, so it's been a long day for all of you. We'll go to the next day.
Q. What time are you at the barn tomorrow?
CHRISTOPHE CLEMENT: I'll be at the barn tomorrow 5:35.
THE MODERATOR: Christophe, congratulations.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports