Turf Sprint – Post-Race Interview Transcript – Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016

 

Anthony Fanticola

Joseph Scardino

Philip D’Amato

Flavien Prat

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, in his fifth attempt in a Breeders’ Cup Race, was the 8-year-old gelding, Obviously. And we’re joined now by winning trainer, Phil D’Amato, and winning jockey, Flavien Prat. Congratulations to you both. Phil, I want to start with you, and if you could, just talk about finally getting this win after five tries at the Breeders’ Cup for such a game gelding.

PHILIP D’AMATO: You know, this horse is really quite an interesting story. But basically this horse took me to go find him with Craig Rounsefell and Jamie Lloyd. It was the first time I went to England, we went to the Tattersalls sale, found this guy and brought him back looking for horses for the owners, Tony Fanticola and Joe Scardino, on behalf of trainer Mike Mitchell. At the time I was his assistant. So he brought me across the pond. He brought me back over here. Mike campaigned him to a couple of Group 1 victories and passed the baton on to me with this guy, and here I am with the Breeders’ Cup win. Pretty amazing.

Q. I want to get a comment from Flavien. If you could take us through the race from your perspective?
FLAVIEN PRAT: We had a great race. As always, he didn’t break super fast. After a few steps, that’s why he showed the speed. I was pretty surprised to be on the lead that easy. And once he got the lead, he relaxed well. And right before crossing, I asked him to pick it up. And after that, I was gone.

THE MODERATOR: We are joined now by the owners, Tony Fanticola and Joe Scardino. Now, gentlemen, we just got a quick summary of this horse’s history from Phil. But I’d like for both of you to comment on getting this win today after such a long road traveled. Maybe each of you could comment, if you don’t mind.

JOSEPH SCARDINO: I can’t thank Phil enough, and of course the jockey did a great job riding him. But I want to give kudos to Phil for taking care of this horse the way he has. At eight years old, he’s a marvel. So we can’t thank him enough, and all the people that help him in the barn, it’s just been a great experience. Eight years old, still hanging in there.

ANTHONY FANTICOLA: Well, it’s one for the old guys, I can tell you he doesn’t know he’s eight. But I tell you, we have a tremendous team, and Phil D’Amato, his whole staff, I got the best partner in the world. Boomer’s Bloodstock, who picked this out, Boomer and McCall are just dynamite folks. They really know their horse people. Flavien gave the ride of a lifetime. He’s a heck of an athlete and probably one of the best riders probably in the world.

FLAVIEN PRAT: Thank you.

ANTHONY FANTICOLA: I’ve got to tell you, it’s a hell of a thrill to do this. But I’ve got to tell you, Mike Mitchell is also here. Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Before we move on, I’d like to ask Phil about Mike as well and your thoughts, and I’m sure he’s on your mind very much today?

PHILIP D’AMATO: Yeah, like I said, he’s the one who along with the owners commissioned us to go overseas and get him and campaigned him together. To me, it couldn’t have been a more special win with the horse in winning the Breeders’ Cup with this horse. It’s like we both finally won our Breeders’ Cup, and it’s extra special.

Q. Can you just talk a little about the decision to put him in the Turf Sprint instead of the Mile this year?
PHILIP D’AMATO: You know, we wanted to change it up. We tried the Mile a bunch of times and kind of always got caught around 16th pole. He had run in the past down the hill with some success, and we just thought, you know, if we put him on the lead here, you know, he had enough bottom in him that if they beat him, they beat him on the square. It wasn’t that he was going to get tired, and it worked out.

Q. Phil, it’s interesting when you get to this point with an eight-year-old who is obviously at the top of his game, but now he’s won a Breeders’ Cup Race, and it’s the end of the season and he’s eight, what’s in his future?
PHILIP D’AMATO: You know, we’ll see. He’s just a wonder horse in my eyes. I don’t see any slowing in him in his training. So usually around this time of year for the last five years we’ve given him a couple month break, and you know, we’ll just play it by ear. We’ll give him a little break and maybe campaign him next year and see what happens.

Q. Flavien, a year ago you were hurt just before the Breeders’ Cup. What does it feel like to get back and get your health and get a winner?
FLAVIEN PRAT: Yeah, I mean, I got hurt, but after that I got great here and I’ve been really lucky. I had a few months this weekend, so I’m really happy that it turned out well.

Q. What do you think it says about the strength of the Southern California horses when you get the 1, 2 finishes in this race?
PHILIP D’AMATO: Yeah, Om’s a great competitor. He ran a good second to my other horse in the Mile, Midnight Storm. He nipped us, obviously, last time in the City of Hope Mile, and I think in terms of at least grass milers that you’ve seen this year, it looks like West Coast is pretty powerful in that division.

ANTHONY FANTICOLA: I have a comment. My wife always said I was a real winner. Well, now I am a winner, sweetie. My wife, JoAnn, here, and my son, Mark, and Kathy. I’ve got to tell you, my whole family now can be at ease for a while.

THE MODERATOR: Very good. You guys were chatting privately. But talk about your partnership over the last how many years now?

ANTHONY FANTICOLA: 17 years. I just whispered to Joe, and I said, Joe, we’re sitting here. I don’t believe it, but we’re sitting here. It’s a thrill of a lifetime. Joe is a real horseman. Joe knows the business. He’s been in it for many years. He’s a real, real competitor. We both are competitors, you know, but I’ve got to tell you, it’s been a wonderful 17 years with this man. You have no idea what kind of depth Joe Scardino has.

THE MODERATOR: Well, Tony, it is real. You are sitting here, and you are Breeders’ Cup champions. Congratulations to you all.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports