Saturday, August 23, 2014

Post-Travers news conference with Jimmy Jerkens and Cynthia Curtis, racing manager for owner Magalen O. Bryant

The New York Racing Association, Inc.


An interview with:



V. E. Day's Trainer


U.S. Racing Manager for Magalen O. Bryant



THE MODERATOR: We're joined by James Jerkens, the trainer of V. E. DAY and the owner, Cynthia Curtis and what does this mean to win the Travers with all the accomplishments you have had with horses?

            CYNTHIA CURTIS: I think it's probably the most exciting race she [ Bryant] has ever won. We have been fortunate this year to have some nice horses and to be able to reach this level.

            THE MODERATOR: I'm sorry, You are the racing manager, please introduce yourself.

            CYNTHIA CURTIS: I'm Cynthia Curtis, I'm Mrs. Bryant's racing manager here in the United States.


            Q. Jimmy, you've compiled a nice record in this race, nearly pulled off a dead heat today. The last time you won the Travers was by a nose. What's the secret to preparing these horses to go a mile and a quarter?

            JAMES JERKENS: I don't know what the secret is, but they've got to have a good race leading up to it and they gotta keep doing good afterwards, keep training, and eating, very basic things, they gotta be dead fit that's for sure.


            Q. Do you think having a race over the track here is a big benefit?

            JAMES JERKENS: Definitely, David told me last week the record for the Travers winners and the horses that run good, you know, have had good races in the Jim Dandy, so that's probably happened too much for it to be coincidence.


            Q. Cynthia, what's the thought process? You have an English Channel that a lot of them excel on turf to give it a try on the dirt?

            CYNTHIA CURTIS: Actually it was Jimmy. I try not to tell them how to train the horses. I let them tell me where they belong, and Jimmy had faith that the horse was a good dirt horse, and he's proven he is, so that was the decision to stay there.


            Q. Jimmy, what would you think the next objective would be, obviously if he comes out of the race well and for WICKED STRONG?

            JAMES JERKENS: I don't know. I really don't know to be honest with you. I'm going to savor this for a while and never really thought of -- I never really mapped out way ahead the horse's schedule, it was never my style to do that.

            I always like to take it one at a time and then start looking, you know. I would rather do that than have all these big expectations, map everything out months and months ahead and then -- so, I don't know, to be honest with you.


            Q. What do you do at the eighth pole? Who are you sitting with and do you stop rooting when you see it's your two horses coming down, two different owners?

            JAMES JERKENS: I wasn't absolutely sure it was V. E. DAY until -- because he had so much mud on him, until he got closer and I saw the silks, you know, and I could see that [Sherwin] that he wears. Then I knew it was him and I said, well, man, what a feeling, I'm going to win a Travers, I just don't know with who.


            Q. Yesterday was an emotional day with the red jacket ceremony honoring your dad, and for you to come back and win the Travers. Talk about not having your dad here this summer and what it means to pull it off?

            JAMES JERKENS: Everybody misses him, not just me, you know? He's been such a main stay here for years and it's just like -- I'm glad I've got 'em stabled over in Oklahoma because every time I go over to the main track side I start thinking about him, but I get a little -- yesterday I got a little weepy watching that infield show and Fernando and my dad were hugging after Emma's Encore won and I had to go up to the microphone 30 seconds later and I could barely talk.

            It's really special, and I know he was watching it at home in Florida with my sister who drove down from Melbourne and they watched it together at home. I haven't talked to him yet, but I'm sure he's just very happy.


            Q. Jimmy, I talked to your dad a couple of minutes ago, and he said he was watching the race. And his first comment was, how come nobody talked about that horse all week? He had as good of a shot as anybody. Did you think V. E. DAY got a little overlooked?

            JAMES JERKENS: I don't know, maybe, my father was always privy to a horse like them, a big, strong colt that looks like he wants to go all day. That's his favorite horse, since he started training. He just eats those kind of horses up.

            He asked me all week long -- he thought -- I think -- he said yesterday, "You know what? I think he will come runnin', I really believe he will come running."


            Q. Cynthia or Mrs. Bryant, can you talk about his name?

            CYNTHIA CURTIS: We named him V. E. DAY, basically he's by English Channel. Mrs.  Bryant is a big supporter of the veterans and the Wounded Warriors and that type of thing and we just thought it was an appropriate name, of course, Victory Europe, and English Channel, so that's how his name came about.


            Q. Jimmy, as ecstatic as you are to win the race, talk about WICKED STRONG and the trip he had, and did it go the way you thought it would go, and when he was clear at the 8th poll did you think you were going to get this one with him?

            JAMES JERKENS: Yeah, as great as I felt for V. E. DAY winning, I felt bad for WICKED STRONG because he ran his guts out. I thought Rajiv had him in a perfect spot. He started getting bad in the gate. I'm glad they -- give the starting crew a lot of credit for backing him out and putting him back in, that was key. They've been great with him all year long, because he's not easy to deal with. We take him up there all the time but he knows the difference between the afternoons and the mornings.


            Q. Jimmy, it was a big test for V. E. DAY from the Curlin to now. What did you see in him that you thought maybe it's not as big of a leap as you thought the day after the race?

            JAMES JERKENS: The race didn't seem to take much out of him, the Curlin, you know? He's a little bit of a throw-back to the horses from -- from what my dad tells me, from years ago. He keeps on eatin' and keeps on feeling good and loves to train.

            You just don't see horses like that anymore.


            Q. How did you guys get together? Have you trained for them before? Have you had horses for them before?

            JAMES JERKENS: For the last two or three years, uh-huh, yeah.

            CYNTHIA CURTIS: I would like to mention one thing. We also are partners with Centennial, with WICKED STRONG and I just would like to say their horse ran a great race, too, both of them. And to Jimmy's credit to have two horses in the Travers finish 1-2, and Centennial have been great partners for us and many horses. We have enjoyed with them as well and kudos to them as well.


            Q. Could you have ever imagined that you would run 1-2 in the Travers? That you would come 1-2?

            JAMES JERKENS: Not really, who would think that? A lot of things gotta go right to ever win it and, hey, you know, it's just -- it's been a dream meeting this whole meet. My horses have been running, doing fantastic and running well. It's just one of those unexplainable things, I don't know why it happens, we're not doing anything -- we don't train or feed or treat our horses any different than we did before but for some reason we came up here and are doing awfully well.


            Q. Jimmy, you mentioned at the draw that you took about 2 seconds to say yes to Javier. Can you talk about the experience he brings to this race and what he did for you today?

            JAMES JERKENS: When he rode Afleet Express for me in 2010, he won and you couldn't ask a jockey to ride any better.

            He can work out a ground saving trip about as nice as anybody I've ever seen, that's key to a rise like this, especially going this far. A mile and a quarter is far enough, you gotta -- if you don't have the speed to get in a position you might as well stay on the fence and work your way through, and that's what he did.


            Q. Did you have any specific instructions for Javier, how to ride a horse like this since he's never been on this horse before?

            JAMES JERKENS: Not really, he called me on the phone and I said he's pretty simple. He'll fall out of the gate kind of sloppy, but he'll get his act together quick and he'll get on the bridle and you won't be anywhere near the pace, but save ground and try to work out a nice trip, and that's what happened.


            Q. Jimmy, when you have two horses in a big race like this, is it a tricky thing with the owners, or not?

            JAMES JERKENS: Yeah, you know, it's never ideal to run horses together but how do you -- you can't slight either one. They're all -- they pay enormous bills forever for training these horses and how do you deny one of them to run in a race like the Travers when it looks like they have the horse?

            It was kind of weird but, you know, it was great -- it was a great weird!


            Q. Was it weird for you?

            JAMES JERKENS: Well, yeah, in a way, obviously, but, you know, everyone's -- I'm sure they're -- they're good sports and I'm sure, you know, I'm sure they wish -- it was reversed, but who wouldn't? We're all human, and I'm sure that they will be very good sports about it, because they're a class organization and all class people involved.

            THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, guys, great job.

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