Saturday, June 07, 2014
Robert Evans post-Belmont interview
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.
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 and he surprised me. It wasn't a very nice day (in the Peter Pan), 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 raced, 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 aim for the Travers, 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 Belmont 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.
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