THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we are back down in the media briefing room, and the winner of the TwinSpires and twinspires.com Breeders’ Cup Sprint is Drefong, and we are joined now by the winning connections. Having a seat on our right is trainer Bob Baffert. This is his fifth win in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. To our left, winning jockey Martin Garcia and Susan Chu and Charlie Chu. The horse runs in the colors of Charlie’s small stable. But Susan actually was first into the Thoroughbred game, and Charlie, who knows a good thing when he sees one, got in soon after. But, Bob, we’d like to start with you, as we typically do. Bob, if you could just take us through the race, the two California horses were on the lead the whole time. Tell us how you saw it?
BOB BAFFERT: Well, Drefong, he looked so good in the paddock. This is probably the sharpest he’s ever been. So we’ve been taking our time. We were bringing him up to this point. So I just told Martin, we had a discussion about, you know what, if you get away from there, just whip him a little bit, and he did a great job. I knew there was going to be a little bit of a speed deal. I was worried about the inside post because he had to force his hand. But he waited. He let him just sort of ease up there without really forcing the issue, and then once I knew Masochistic and him were going to battle, and when Masochistic — he’s a really good horse, and I thought, wow, I think we’re going to run second. Then turning for home, he knows the horse really well. You just can’t really hit him too much. He doesn’t like the whip too much, and he got after him a little bit left-handed. But I knew at the 1/8th pole, I thought, wow, this horse is really — it was almost like watching Beholder and Songbird yesterday. I mean, when they throw down like that, I mean, those two horses really threw down in the stretch.
It’s one of those things that I’m just lucky that I happened to be on the better end of it. But it was a pretty fast race. Because this track is not real — we’re used to a really faster track, but I’m just glad that the Chus, they’ve been very lucky. They’ve been extremely blessed and fortunate. They’ve had some nice horses. So Susan just loves the animals. She wants to keep them all and take care of them. She’s the kind of owner that really worries about her horses.
Charlie, he’s game. He’s a sportsman, he loves the horses. So he’s got his whole family here. So it’s a great honor to have a horse like this, to have a talented horse. For him to show it today, we didn’t know how fast he was, because he’s done everything, and today he needed to be really, really good to beat that horse.
THE MODERATOR: They were really moving. Martin, you were actually on the inside of Masochistic, so just tell us how your horse responded and about your trip in general?
CHRIS RICHARDSON: Well, I was pretty confident since I got on him here in the paddock. And Mr. Baffert told me just let him run, whatever, however he’s happy, and I was really comfortable.
THE MODERATOR: Let’s hear from the Chus, please. Susan, this is a big win. Just tell us about your reaction and the experience of winning a Breeders’ Cup Race if you would.
SUSAN CHU: Yeah, we are so honored to be sitting here with Bob and with Martin together. And Bob knows how much we love this sport, and we love our horse. I’m so appreciative to everybody doing everything for us, Bob and Jimmy, Donato, everybody in Bob Baffert’s stable that support us 100%. And we so appreciate we have a chance to be winning today. So this is so joyful.
We have a big, strong family coming to support us today from everywhere, all over the country to watch us on such a special day. This is really so joyful. Thank you.
Q. Bob, good when a plan comes together. I mean, you knew he was training good, and then the track hadn’t been playing necessarily in the favor of speed, but today it worked out. So good to see that all come together?
BOB BAFFERT: Well, I mean, when he broke and he broke with him and Martin, he just let him ease up there that first quarter. He rode a really beautiful race. When I saw the fraction 21, I think it was 60 something, I thought, and I thought: That’s manageable. That’s okay. These are good horses. They can handle that.
When I saw Masochistic out there with Mike Smith, I thought that horse is running his A-game, and I’ve been watching that horse train. So I knew it was going to be a battle. But the 3/8th pole it looked like Masochistic was going to have the edge on us. But, you know, this little horse and Martin, they just — when the running started, he just brought it. And the 1/8th pole, I could just tell that horse — it just shows you the will to win they have. And he was just — both horses were just champions. They were just throwing it down.
The Breeders’ Cup, I remember years ago I was in Chicago, and I ran second and third, and Bob Lewis, one of my greatest owners ever, I was complaining to him about it, You know what? Maybe we could have done this, whatever. Just complained a little bit. I was just trying to — and he said, Robert, hey, that’s why they have these races. The best horses are in the race, so there’s no excuses. And that’s what happens.
So they threw it down, and it was incredible, because after losing Lord Nelson this week in the lineup, that really hurt. He was doing so well also. It would have been nice to have him in there. But it’s great that I knew Drefong was ready to do it. His post, I was a little leery. If he would have been on the outside, I would have felt a little bit better. But, like I said, it was a great time for Martin to reunite with me (laughing). He got a big, fat check.
THE MODERATOR: Well, you brought up the topic. So let me ask, Martin, how it feels to be back riding the best horses in the Baffert barn again or several of the best horses in the Baffert barn and what your probation period was like?
CHRIS RICHARDSON: I feel lucky.
SUSAN CHU: He has to.
Q. It is part of the story of this horse.
BOB BAFFERT: You know, he needed some time there. You know, when you have one jockey just constantly and if you’re going through a rut or whatever, it’s tough. Just like a jockey can get beat and he can get on the next race and win with the trainers. It’s a lot of pressure.
So sometimes it’s tough to really — like, if I use 10 different, 20 different riders, you really don’t notice it. But guys, if they get a little cold, if the trainer gets cold, if you’re both cold, there’s a lot of tension.
So sometimes that happens. You have your little — we really didn’t have any argument. But it’s one of those things where sometimes it’s good to have that time away just to reorganize, and it’s worked well. So, you know, he knows my horses. He knows how they’re going to be ridden. When Mike Smith chose Masochistic, and he’d won on it before, and Charlie — we talked to the Chus, and they were, you know, well, I could put whatever, but I know Martin knows the horse really well. Came in there, worked these horses, got them ready. So it’s one of those things where it’s just, you know, I wasn’t mad at him. But we needed some separation. It was getting tense. So everything’s good. Look at him.
Q. Can you reflect a little bit on the Breeders’ Cup Sprint specifically? It was a breakthrough win for you. Your first emergence onto the national stage, the first time you won it. Your success specifically in this race? Just talk about how well you’ve done in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and what this race means to you?
BOB BAFFERT: You know what, when I first was training quarter horses, I remember watching the first Breeders’ Cup, and I thought, wow, that looks so much — that is exciting. So I thought maybe I could do something like that, maybe the Sprint. Maybe I could win a Sprint race. I remember Thirty Slews was the first horse I ever bought for $30,000. When he won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, I thought that day at Gulfstream Park I had reached the pinnacle of my career. That was it. I’ve never — I never had that feeling again until I won a Kentucky Derby. But it was just the most exciting. I can’t even remember how I got to the Winner’s Circle. I was so afraid if I didn’t get there in time they were going to take the picture without me. That’s how nervous I was. So it was one of those things where I remember I had to take an elevator to Gulfstream Park, and it wasn’t coming and I was panicking. I was like, I’ve got to get down there. They’re going to take the picture without me.
But still it’s a thrill. Breeders’ Cup Races, these championship races, there’s a lot on the line. Not only the money, but the championships. The championships. This is when they hand out the championships in the fall. So hopefully this put Drefong in the conversation, and we’ll see what goes.
Q. When did you get involved in racing, and some background on your involvement in the sport of Thoroughbred racing? When did you get started buying horses?
SUSAN CHU: Yeah, we actually started show jumping, and since all of our family — myself, my daughter, my son — we are all riding horses. So we know horses. We love horses when the kids were so young. And after that, we watched the Kentucky Derby years ago, four, five years ago, and my husband and I, we took our kids to Churchill Downs to watch the Kentucky Derby. It was a surprise: Oh, this horseracing is totally different. It’s amazing sport. So I turned ahead to my husband and said, Charlie, let me do horseracing. How’s about that? And he said, Okay. Since from then, actually just probably four, five years ago, I’m working so hard. I started searching, searching, searching. I know Bob Baffert is the best. So I’m searching. I tried to compare with Bob 100 times without getting him. And then he has so many people blocked me, I could not reach him.
So you know what I’m doing? Finally I decide just buy a ticket, fly to California to see him. And then the first time he met me in the stable, I was so nervous. I thought this is the very top trainer. Does he want to talk to me? I don’t know. I was so nervous. I just took the trip myself.
So he asked me, Are you sure you want to do horseracing? I said, Yes. And so he said, Okay, I’ll help you.
BOB BAFFERT: I was trying to talk her out of it.
SUSAN CHU: So, yeah, that is the starting.
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