Kentucky Derby Winners Post-Race News Conference

May 05, 2019 Churchill Downs Communications

JIM MULVIHILL: Country House is the second?longest prize Kentucky Derby winner ever, paying $132.40. We're thrilled now to be joined by these first?time Kentucky Derby winners, starting, of course, with our hall of fame trainer and Churchill Downs legend Bill Mott on the far end; winning jockey, Flavien Prat. Congratulations to you.

FLAVIEN PRAT: Thank you.

JIM MULVIHILL: From the far side towards me, we have Guinness McFadden, followed by Mrs. Maury Shields, whose late husband, Jerry Shields, was the owner and breeder of this horse. Congratulations to you as well.

MRS. J.V. SHIELDS JR.: Thank you.

JIM MULVIHILL: And then representing LNJ Foxwoods, Jamie Roth, as well as racing manager Alex Solis II. So a round of applause for these folks.

A historic Derby, the first time a winner has been put up via disqualification.

Bill Mott, can you just tell us about your thoughts throughout waiting out the inquiry and how it feels to win your first Kentucky Derby in general, as well as this way.

BILL MOTT: Well, first of all, I think our horse ran great. You know, I was really pleased with the position he had. I was pleased with the way Flavien rode him and the way the horse responded for him.

You know, as far as the win goes, it's bittersweet. I would be lying if I said it was any different. You always want to win with a clean trip and have everybody recognize the horse as the very good horse and for the great athlete that he is. I think, due to the disqualification, probably some of that is diminished. But this is horse racing.

There were two horses in the race that lost all chance to win a Kentucky Derby, and they were in position at the time to hit the board. And people bet on these races. There's millions of dollars that are bet. And there are some people that bet on the two horses that got bothered, and they had no chance to get a placing.

And I know the stewards had a very, very difficult decision. I mean, I'm glad I wasn't in their shoes. I'm glad I didn't have to make the decision in front of over a hundred thousand people and the millions of people that are watching this on TV and around the world.

But with that being said, I'm damn glad they put our number up.

(Cheers and applause.)

JIM MULVIHILL: Flavien, the incident that resulted in the disqualification did not necessarily affect you very much, but we'd still like to hear what you were aware of coming to the 1/4 pole. And, also, if you could take us through your entire trip.

FLAVIEN PRAT: Well, the entire trip was good. He broke well and just put me in the race. He was traveling really well the entire race. And once I got him outside and I started to make my move, well, Maximum Security, he kind of drift out and turned us sideways. Like you say, the two horse inside of me had a lot more trouble than I did, but it affect me anyway.

JIM MULVIHILL: And just tell us what it's like to win a Kentucky Derby.

FLAVIEN PRAT: Well, it felt pretty good actually. It's a great moment. It's a dream come true. Coming from Europe, Breeders' Cup was a bigger deal for me. But as soon as I rode the first year here, I was in the grandstands and I watched this race, and it's amazing. I mean, there's no race like the Kentucky Derby. And I was hoping to one day ride it, ride the Derby, and to win it. And it's done today. I'm really happy and blessed.

JIM MULVIHILL: Mrs. Shields, we'd love to hear from you, pretty poignant win. Your feelings over the last half hour watching the race and waiting for the result and winning a Kentucky Derby with the homebred.

MRS. J.V. SHIELDS JR.: Well, it's very exciting because Jerry bred the horse. He's a homebred. And I just thank Billy Mott for training him, Flavien for riding him, and for this incredible win. It will take a while for it to sink in. Thank you.

Q. Mr. Mott, congratulations on your first Derby win. Country House was sitting ninth early in the race. He had previously used closing tactics in his career. Was it the plan to have him more forwardly placed in the race?

BILL MOTT: No. I thought we would probably be out the back, and I expressed my thoughts toFlavien just to be patient with him, let him break. I didn't feel he had a lot of early gait speed. When he was laying in close proximity to the leaders, I was a little surprised. But I could tell that he was really traveling well. He wasn't running off, but he was traveling very well. He handled the slot very well.

He's a horse that's ?? he's been on the improve. He's been a big backward type of horse. When he was a 2?year?old, he was one of those that didn't show us a lot until he got in the fall of the year and we ran him a couple times. And it seemed like the lightbulb was starting to come on.

I've been telling people all winter that when we ?? if this horse ever wakes up and figures out, really, what he's doing, that the mile and a quarter of the Kentucky Derby is certainly within his reach and not to discount him.

And we were right today. I mean, he showed up. He showed up in a big way. I think everybody showed up in a big way. Everybody that's been in contact with this horse has showed up in a big way. Everybody has done a great job from before the time that I got him. There's so much that goes into getting these horses to this point, whether it's the farm people that raise the horse, the people that make the ?? do the matings.

And there's a lot of hurdles to jump over. And just to get him to the race is such an honor and, really, such an accomplishment, not just for me but for everybody that deals with him.

I mean, I'm fortunate enough to just be the spokesman for everybody that has put their hands on this horse and put some thought into getting him ready, from the mating to walking into that circle at Churchill Downs.

And I got to tell you, it's a pretty special event and it's ?? you know, why do it the easy way? You know what I mean?


This is kind of an unusual way to get to the Winner's Circle with having the DQ in the race. But I would say the stewards, in my opinion, I think they made the right call. And I will try to look at it from an unbiased point of view. I know they looked at it for a long, long time. And I'm sure that they didn't want to do it; but, as I said before, if it was an ordinary race on a Wednesday, I think they definitely would have taken the winner down.

I think that's the only way we can really look at it. And if we need any ?? to rationalize it at all, I think that's ?? I think that's how I've got to look at it. But I'm ?? nonetheless, I'm pleased with everybody that's, as I said, been in contact. And my staff, they've all done a wonderful job. And they've all worked with a Kentucky Derby winner now.

Q. Bill, obviously, great result for you. What kind of result do you think this is for the sport of horse racing, that you have the first time a Kentucky Derby winner has been taken down like that?

BILL MOTT: Well, I mean, it will ?? it's something that will give somebody a lot to talk about for a long time. I mean, they'll be speaking about the result of this race from now until they run the next Kentucky Derby and the next ten Kentucky Derbys and 20 Kentucky Derbys. I mean, I wouldn't be surprised if this race shows up on TV over and over and over a year from now.

There's always a lot of controversy in this sport, and we're probably going to be involved in it from now on. But I'm going to take it. I'm just pleased for the owners and the breeders of this horse that have put so much into the game. I'm really glad to be sitting up here on this stage with them.

JIM MULVIHILL: Bill, a lot of the time there would be an expectation that, in a race this big, there would be a certain amount of race riding. Do you have thoughts on whether, in general, riders should be allowed a little more leeway in a race of this stature versus adjudicating by the letter of the law?

BILL MOTT: I don't really think this was race riding. I think the horse did this on his own. I mean, for me to watch it, I'd have to watch it again and again. And maybe somebody else can point something else out to me. But I don't think Luis Saez did anything intentionally. I think his horse was green. He could have been shying from the inside. He could have been ?? you know, he's an inexperienced horse. He's only run three or four times. And he's probably never seen anything like this before.

I can't answer why he did it, but it looked like he came off his inside lead at the 5/16 pole. And when he did, he came out three paths, and he bothered two horses. And Luis is a friend of mine. He rides for me. I've got friendships with the connections of that horse. And, you know, my heart actually aches a little bit for them, but that's the way it is. I've been on the other end of it plenty of times, just not in the Kentucky Derby.

Q. Bill, how do you liken this experience, just this moment, compared to everything you went through with Cigar?

BILL MOTT: That was a pretty special time. And the run with Cigar lasted almost 2 1/2 years. So there was a lot of pressure. We came over today, and we were bound to enjoy the day and have a good time. And I think Guinness and Mrs. Shields and the Roths all came here. I don't know that our expectations were that we were going to wind up in the Winner's Circle. But I think, naturally, everybody was hopeful.

But I think it was just a real thrill to find out that the decision that we collectively made to run this horse in the Kentucky Derby worked out. I think it's been a great team effort, and everybody was willing to go ahead and give it a shot.

As you could see looking at the tote board, there was a lot of people that probably didn't think we could win. But that's horse racing.

Q. Guinness, could you talk about the family involvement of you and this horse. And, also, if you guys could talk about how the partnership was formed with everybody on this horse.

GUINNESS McFADDEN: Sure. Obviously, I think it was a fourth?generation homebred of Jerry's. So four dams back, he's been breeding this family.

Q. The human family connection.

GUINNESS McFADDEN: Me? I had nothing to do with it.


I'm just, I guess, the owner on paper, one of the owners. Jerry passed away and left the horses to us. So that's how it happened.

JIM MULVIHILL: The partnership with LNJ.

GUINNESS McFADDEN: Give me a second. We've just been working with Alex and Jason for a long time. It just seemed like the right thing to do. It's always fun to do it with other people, and theRoths are great. We thought we had a good horse. And, I don't know, it just happened.

BILL MOTT: This horse broke his maiden at Gulfstream in very impressive fashion. I called Guinness after he crossed the finish line, and I said, 'Guinness,' I said, 'Your phone is going to be ringing off the hook.' And I think he was traveling at the time. And so we had a conversation about it. I think his phone was ringing off the hook, which he told me about later.

But he was ?? as he said, he's had an association w…

  • Ticket Info

    Sign up for race updates and more