THE MODERATOR: We have Victor Espinoza, and we’ll have Steve Coburn and Art Sherman coming in as well. Victor, congratulations. Well done.
VICTOR ESPINOZA: Thank you, sir.
Q. Did you start him earlier than in the past? If so, is there any reason you did that?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: I had to because the outside horse, he was pushing me. He made me move at the half mile post. I really don’t want to. I want to wait as soon as possible. I thought I was in a perfect position, and I just wanted to wait as long as I can.
But when the outside horse attacked me, and I had to just let it go, slowly. I don’t want to make a strong move at that point. But turning for home, he really got after me, and I had to just open it up at that point.
Q. Does this feel different for you from winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown? If so, how come?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: It was tough today. It was tough because this race was just a little complicated. I bounced out of there running out of the gate, and I saw one horse and I was in the right (Indiscernible). I saw somebody else come by the turn, and he just like trying to go with the other one. And I had to just like go steady, steady and wait. And all of those things, I had hope to make the right decision, let the horse clear me and sit in behind him, without even irritating California Chrome. In a tenth of a second I had to make that decision, and hopefully the best. After the other horse got cleared, so I sit 3rd and I thought it was perfect. As soon as I think that, in a half mile, here he comes the other one. They attacked me too soon. There he goes. Wow, this is crazy. It was a big challenge for me. I was telling somebody, I don’t even know who I was talking to, like this race it was more tiring mentally than physical because all of the things going on early in the race, wow, I didn’t expect that.
Q. You said you wanted a second chance at the Triple Crown. You have one now. What does it mean to you?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: It means a lot, and I’m ready. I’m ready for it. Hopefully California Chrome comes back good. It’s tough, but I’m just glad to have my second chance in my career. In a million years I didn’t think I was going to have a second chance. I was very close for once. But it will work out. Life goes on, and over a decade, here we go. I’m here again.
Q. Has this been the toughest race for you, and why?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: This Preakness was tough. I’m telling you. There are some horses, some fresh horses, and they attacked me very soon that I won. And the way this race was set up, it was just kind of complicated. I mean, I’m just glad that I don’t study the form, because it will work out the way the form looks. The way you think the horses are going to go, everything is different. But I never have a plan how I want to ride this horse. Every race that he runs. Many people ask me how are you going to ride him, and I wish I knew. Some maybe thought that I’m not going to tell the truth, but it is the truth. I go like a blind guy how I’m going to ride him. I make my decisions during the race.
THE MODERATOR: Art Sherman has joined us now, the trainer for California Chrome. We have a question for both Victor and Art.
Q. What did you learn from your first run at the Triple Crown in regards to the hype and all the things off the track that go with it? What did you learn from that?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: I learned a lot. I think the first time I’d been there I was kind of like, you know some things I was not ready for. Some things that I did that I shouldn’t have done, or some things that I had done that I’m just glad that I did. But now I have a second chance, so I probably will enjoy myself a little bit better, and go day by day. Because as long as California Chrome comes out good and is ready for the next step, I’ll be ready too.
Q. Are you somewhat amazed this horse is able to respond to every challenge, and do you think he can do it again?
ART SHERMAN: After watching him today, and coming back in two weeks which I never usually run a horse that quick back, and now I’ve got three weeks, a mile and a half, it’s quite a challenge. I’ll tell you. You have to have a very good horse to win these three races, and I’m hoping I’ve got one right now.
VICTOR ESPINOZA: It’s not easy. If it was easy a lot of horses would have won the Triple Crown, you know? 30‑something years, it’s just crazy. It has to be a super horse to win that. It’s so close to the races. They lose so much energy. Hopefully California Chrome comes back good, and he is the one who hopefully can do it.
Q. Because the race is now a mile and a half, does it change how you train the horse?
ART SHERMAN: Well, it will be because we’ve got a new surface. I’ve got three weeks now. He’ll probably just work an easy half a mile up to this race, and I can just play it by ear and see how fast he recovers and when I will work him back. But he will work before that Belmont.
ART SHERMAN: (No Audio) in my career. A Triple Crown winner, if you had said that to me at the beginning of the year, I would have said, “Are you crazy?” Now that I’m getting closer, I’m elated, really big time.
VICTOR ESPINOZA: It would probably be something I’ve never dreamed in my life just to win the Triple Crown. I don’t even know what to say right now. I’m just having fun and enjoying the Preakness right now and waiting for the Kentucky Derby. So I’ll think of that later when I get close to the race.
Q. The question for Victor, is this a victory for the fans who have supported you so much?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: Absolutely. You know, they’ve got my support. (No Audio) all the jockeys that have helped support me, every human being that’s helped me.
Q. I wonder if you can walk us through your view of the race, and the level of confidence?
ART SHERMAN: I didn’t see it really clear, to be honest with you. I know I’ll get a chance to see it a lot better. Everybody was standing up in front of me, and I had a camera point blank in my face, but I got a chance to see the board, you know what I mean? I knew when I saw him break, I was very happy. I knew going into the first turn Victor was in that position. As a former rider, he had to make a decision. So whether to go on or get in behind horses, he got a chance to move him out. When I saw him at the half a mile pole having dead aim on the leaders, I said, now, Victor, we’re in the driver’s seat.
Q. Art, can you describe your emotions when the race ended as compared to the Derby? Was there the same elation or was there relief today because you won the second leg?
ART SHERMAN: Well, every race to me, the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, you know, I’ve never won at million dollar races. I was always kind of a claimant type of trainer. Now I’m up there with all the big boys, and I’m saying, wow. I said it’s just an honor being blessed to have a horse like him.
Q. Victor, when you turned for home, did you have as much horse as you had in the past when you’ve made the move?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: Yes, I had. Oh, no, I had to move early today. I had to start moving in the half‑mile pole, which is tough for a horse to start moving early and keep going all the way to the end. It’s not easy. And today, California Chrome proved he can move. Even if he’s a little early, he still has it. I don’t know how much still has, but I’ll make sure I get him to the wire first today.
Q. Same feeling?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: Same feeling.
Q. I believe this is the sixth straight win for California Chrome. What has been the number one ingredient for that winning streak right now?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: I think the way I ride him.
ART SHERMAN: I’ll drink to that.
THE MODERATOR: We can probably end that right there (Laughing). Great answer though.
Q. When will you be at the barn tomorrow so the media can talk to you tomorrow morning, and when are you thinking about taking the horse out of here?
ART SHERMAN: I think he’ll probably have a couple of days here to unwind and just be a horse. You know what I mean? Even though it’s not that far a van drive, he needs to just ‑‑ he’s going to be tired in the morning. I’m going to be there early like I always am.
VICTOR ESPINOZA: Me too.
ART SHERMAN: Give him a little kiss for myself. I tell you, he’s my superstar, I can tell you that.
Q. So no plans etched in stone as to the time you’re going to take him out? 6:00 a.m. you’ll be there tomorrow?
ART SHERMAN: He’s not going to be out. He’ll be probably walking before you guys get there.
Q. How is it dealing with all the outside distractions pulling at you both before the race and now after the race?
ART SHERMAN: Well, I’m kind of getting used to it. After I won the Kentucky Derby, I said, wow, all of a sudden I feel like Willie Nelson the old rock star coming through the airport. So I’m getting kind of used to it. Sometimes I need to take my little siesta for about an hour. I call it just charging my battery a little bit, and then I’m okay.
Q. How hard did you ride him today? You were pretty easy on him at the stretch at Churchill. How much did you have to dig into him today?
VICTOR ESPINOZA: I had to a little bit more than Churchill. The only reason because the race today was a little bit complicated. The horse on the outside they attacked me very soon, early move at the half a mile pole. So it’s way, way too much for him. But I had to continue to go not really hard but more than the Kentucky Derby.
THE MODERATOR: Victor, thank you.
VICTOR ESPINOZA: Thank you all, and thank you for everything.
THE MODERATOR: On behalf of the Maryland Jockey Club and all the fans, thank you for your class all week.
VICTOR ESPINOZA: Thank you to all the guys around here and everybody from Pimlico. They’re awesome. Thank you all.
THE MODERATOR: Steve, congratulations on behalf of the Maryland Jockey Club. Congratulations on a spectacular performance.
STEVE COBURN: Thank you very much.
Q. You’ve always had a great feeling about this horse. You keep predicting wins and he keeps winning for you. What’s next?
STEVE COBURN: The Triple Crown. You know what? I don’t mean to be bold or cocky or arrogant because I’ve said this. I’ve said it a hundred times if I’ve said it once. When I saw this colt, when I saw this baby when he was a day old, I told my wife, Carolyn, this horse is going to do something big. I don’t know what it is, but we’re going to stay in the game to make sure this colt gets to be the best that he can be. I’ve been a firm believer in that ever since, and he’s not proven me wrong. This is a nice horse. He loves people. He loves what he does, and that’s why he’s America’s horse, because in my opinion, this horse, what he’s doing for two guys that work their butts off every day just to put beans and bacon on the table, this horse has given everybody else out there the incentive to say, you know what?
We can do it too. We can do this also. It may not be a race horse. It may be the idea that they have in their head or a new product or whatever the case may be, but we just hope that this horse is letting America know that the little guy can win. The little guy can do it, because this is the little guy here. Have you ever seen him? He’s only about that tall (laughing).
But honestly, folks, I don’t know how to explain how I feel within my heart and soul. It’s hard for me because I get very emotional about it. But I honestly believe this horse is America’s horse. He’s giving everybody that little light bulb when it clicks on, say you know what? We can do this. We can do this with just a little bit more try. We can do it. I’ve always told my wife, I said when I die, on my headstone put my name and say a man that loved his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and he always had try, period.
Q. Can you imagine the kind of reception you’re going to get when you get to New York?
ART SHERMAN: All I know is my wife already bugged me she wanted to go see a play downtown, so I know I’m in trouble right away.
STEVE COBURN: So your wife’s been talking to my wife, right?
ART SHERMAN: That’s right.
Q. Steve, how about you?
STEVE COBURN: I’ve never been to Kentucky. It was always on our bucket list to go there. Not necessarily for the Kentucky Derby, but just to go to Churchill Downs. We went to Kentucky as the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, and we did. We came to Maryland with the favorite to win the Preakness, and we did. I think I’m going incognito to New York. I’m going to go buy me some dreadlocks, and some Billy Bob Ts, and I’m sliding in the back door (laughing).
But you know what? Dave Picker from NBC Sports, he told me, when you get there, you call me and we’ll show you a good time. So, Dave, you know you’re on the hook right now.
Q. Can you get some dreadlocks for Art?
STEVE COBURN: They’re on the way.
Q. Can you take us through your emotions watching the race?
STEVE COBURN: Well, honestly, when he broke good, and he held his line, I had so many cameras in my face, I didn’t even get to see the race. Carolyn says he’s in the lead. I said where is he. She said he’s in the lead. He’s going to win the race, and then I saw him, I said he’s winning the damn race (laughing). I had so many cameras in my face that I actually couldn’t see the race.
But you know what? Ladies and gentlemen of this wonderful, wonderful state, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate what you’ve done for us. We’re just everyday people. We go to work every day. What you’ve done for us, I cannot express how much I appreciate it.
I looked in the mirror this morning, and I thought I had me like a royal birthmark on my butt. But I didn’t, because you people have been treating me like I’m royalty here. So thank you, Maryland. Thank you so much.
Q. As crazy as it sounds, can you look back now and think that turning down the $6 million was a good decision?
ART SHERMAN: Actually, he knew more than I did, and now the horse is worth $30 million.
STEVE COBURN: That’s my boy.
Q. So the answer is an emphatic yes?
ART SHERMAN: A big yes.
Q. In retrospect now, the $30 million you talked about winning the Triple Crown tonight ‑‑ the deal you turned down for $30 million, $6 million, whatever it was, was it the best business deal you didn’t make?
STEVE COBURN: Not only yes, but hell yes. No, honestly, we were here yesterday, and the man I said not only no, I said hell no. And he shook my hand and I said I respect what you did. So that tells me this man actually believed in us because we knew we had a good horse. This horse wouldn’t be who he is today without the trainer, Art Sherman. The exercise rider, Willie, and Raul, because Raul sleeps with this horse more than he sleeps with his wife.
So, Raul, thank you. I love you. You’re doing a great job. Art, you have a lot of competition in front of you. So when you see Raul, you tell him I said thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’ll see him in the morning, actually.
But, yeah, it is what it is. I can’t explain it. But we’re not Dumbass Partners. We’re Dumbass Partners family right now, and we’re sharing this with the world. We just want everybody to know that thank you, thank you so much for just believing in us and in this horse because he is a very special horse.
Q. You keep talking about going to work every day. At what point do you quit your job and live off the income?
STEVE COBURN: Well, I’m only 61, so I’ve got at least four more years to work, and I will show up every day because I cannot do this to my family, which is the people that I work with. I could not walk away from them simply because I don’t want to put them in a bind. I could do it, but I’m not going to do it because that’s not the type of person I am. I am me. I get up. I go to work every day. For somebody that has been fortunate enough as I have to have this happen to them, I can understand that they want to just get out the door and say, I’m done. I can’t do this because I cannot put my company in that situation. Because I work. I work. I love my job, and I work. So I’ll be there until I’m able to retire. Try to get me some social security. Right now I can’t get it. I’m only 61. Now my wife retired, thank goodness. I never knew I had so many underwear. She had been washing my drawers for a long time. I’ve got a lot of clean drawers. Okay, all right, honey, we’re done.
Q. In all seriousness, can this horse win the Triple Crown?
ART SHERMAN: I tell you, I wouldn’t want to be in anybody else’s shoes right now. I think the horse is a phenomenal horse. I know right now we’re running on a high. But I think when we get to Belmont this horse is going to run big. I really do.
Q. Why is Mr. Martin not here?
STEVE COBURN: Well, all I can say is my partner, Perry Martin, is a very private person. And Perry, I hope you’re listening to this because, you know what? We love you, and we really wanted you to be here. But I can understand why he’s not here. The hospitality we received at Churchill Downs wasn’t very good, and Perry Martin, he decided that he and his family were going to watch the race some place within the world ‑‑ I can’t tell you where it’s at because I don’t even know where in the hell it’s at ‑‑ and then go have a good supper.
So, Perry, I hope I did you proud, because you saw me crying on camera.
Q. There is a question in regards to the Churchill Downs comment you made to NBC? You said Churchill Downs could take a lesson from the Maryland Jockey Club.
VICTOR ESPINOZA: Yes.
STEVE COBURN: Yes, and I’m serious about this. I’m serious as a heart attack. Because you know what? We got to Churchill and not only did I complain, but there were other trainers and owners and even the jockeys were complaining about the way they were treated. I’ve said this once, I’ve said it 50 times, Churchill Downs needs to call Maryland to get a lesson in hospitality. Because these people right here, they’ve treated us like we’re royalty, and I can’t say thank you enough.
We’ve got a gentleman out here, his name’s John. That’s our driver. John, say hi to the folks. There is John. He’s saying hi to the folks. But you know what? We’re not royalty. We don’t expect to be treated like royalty, but the hospitality that these folks in Maryland have shown us is top shelf. I’m talking above top shelf liquor. I’m talking top shelf.
So, thank you, Maryland. Thank you for everything you’ve done for us, and hopefully we’ll be back next year for the Black‑Eyed Susan, because California Chrome has a foal sis.
Q. Do you think Perry will be able to make the Belmont?
STEVE COBURN: Well, you know what? I know a lot of people that can throw a good loop, and we’ll drag his butt to Belmont if he doesn’t want to show up on his own, so I’m hoping he will. I really am. Because he needs to be ‑‑ he’s missing out on a lot of fun. He really, really is. I know how him and Denise are, and I’ll talk to him. I can’t guarantee nothing, but I’ll talk to him.
Q. Do you think he missed out here for not being here?
STEVE COBURN: You know what? I can’t answer that for him. All I can say is Perry, you’re missing a hell of a party, buddy. You really are.
Q. Did you talk to Perry right after the race? If so, what did he say?
STEVE COBURN: I have not talked to Perry yet. My phone’s turned off, but I’m sure that when I turn it back on, there are going to be a lot of buzzes coming on that thing. Perry and I, we talk a lot. It’s back and forth. It’s like, hey, partner, how you doing? Fine. How you doing? It’s very casual. We have a great relationship with Perry and Denise. When we get together, my wife Carolyn and I, and Perry and Denise, it’s us. I don’t know what else to tell you. But Perry, we need to go to New York, New York, New York.
Q. Is it fair to say that Perry isn’t here because of the way he was treated at Churchill?
STEVE COBURN: You know what? I can’t answer that for him, but I think it had a lot to do with it. Because he had his mother who is 84 years old, trying to get everything done for her so she could be in the winner’s circle and so on and so forth. There were people doing what they could to help us, but apparently they didn’t do quite enough. But I can’t answer that for Perry. I honestly believe that it was a bad, bad day at Churchill. Even though we won, it was a bad day for my partner and his family.
Q. How much does this sport need a Triple Crown winner?
STEVE COBURN: This sport of horse racing ‑‑ okay, let me back up here a little bit. We went on the number system as far as not money, based on points, right? And in my opinion, in my opinion there are trainers out there that train horses just to upset the apple cart. I honestly believe that there are a lot of good horses running out there, and 19 of them started in the Kentucky Derby. I honestly believe that they need to change this sport to where those 20 horses that start in the Kentucky Derby are the only 20 eligible to run in all three races. If you bow out in the Preakness, you don’t come back for the Belmont.
I honestly believe that if the Triple Crown is not won this year by California Chrome, I will never see it in my lifetime because there are people out there trying to upset the apple cart. They don’t want a Triple Crown winner. They want a paycheck. So that’s my honest opinion. If they don’t like it, I don’t care. But that’s my opinion. Thank you very much. Thank you, folks.