Louisville Magazine

Breeders Cup 2018

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#BC18 BREEDERSCUP.COM 19 Walker Hancock 29, Paris, Ky. Managing Director, Claiborne Farm 2018 Record: rough August 31, we have 87 starts, 15 wins, 13 seconds, and 16 thirds. Biggest career wins: Since I personally took over the farm, our biggest wins would be Lea in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap (now Pegasus World Cup) and Elate winning the Grade 1 Alabama and Beldame races last year. e biggest win I was ever a part of was the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic with Blame. Any horses in the 2018 Breeders' Cup? Elate is targeting the Breeders' Cup Distaff/Classic. If Mucho comes back from his effort in the Hopeful in good shape he could target the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. What do you look for in a yearling? I love a yearling with a solid frame to be a race horse. ey must have good bones, must be balanced and must have enough leg and be big enough without being too big. What are good breeding practices for race horses? You need to identify (a mare's) weakest traits and find a stallion that can improve upon her flaws. Say you have a really fast mare that is on the small side, is a little mental and a little crooked; you need to find a stallion that can run a route of ground, that has some size, is correct and is also good mentally. How do you know when a horse will be good? I tell people you never know a horse is going to be a good one until you see them break their maiden! You can speculate all you want but some horses are what trainers call "morning glories." ey impress in their workouts but some don't have the heart and mental capacity to be a good race horse. What is your family's background in racing? I am a fifth- generation horseman and the fourth generation to run Claiborne Farm. We started in Virginia shortly after the Civil War and moved our operation to Paris, Ky., in 1910 and have been here ever since. I grew up on the farm working the sales and weed-eating as a kid. I slowly progressed to the role I am in today. What is your first memory of horse racing? My first memory is Pulpit winning the 1997 Blue Grass Stakes. Certainly I was exposed at an early age but I distinctly remember that race. My mom says I took my first steps in the paddock at Gulfstream Park. What is your role now? Each season I find myself performing different jobs: the racing manager for our stable, finding the best matches for our mares, recruiting clients, selling stallion seasons, working the sales consignments, serving on boards, and overseeing general operations of the farm. What do you do in your role? I am sometimes on the desk analyzing and deconstructing races and trying to give the public an idea of some horses that run well. at part of the job would be racing analyst. But I also do the reporter role as well, so something that's very important to me is to expose some of the interesting stories that are connected with some of the great horses and connections. What's your family's background in racing? My mom and dad were both trainers for a really long time, probably about 40 years. My dad retired in 2011 and my sister pretty much took over the operation. My sister is 30 and now she's a trainer too. What is your earliest memory in racing? My dad would take me out to the racetrack in Maryland and teach me how to look at a program and look at horses. He'd throw me on the back of our ponies everyday. We used to travel all the time during the summer because we didn't have a year-round type of schedule in Maryland. at was a lot of fun. At the track, what are you analyzing? When I analyze, (I look at) pretty much everything. I could be commenting on how the horses look physically, how I think the race will be run, or what I think the jockeys are thinking; how a race will unfold. In your career, is there a horse that was the most inter- esting to follow? Every single year, observing horses from their two-year-old season to their three-year- old campaign is interesting. For this year, I would say Catholic Boy is one of the more interesting hors- es. He can do anything. He can run on the turf, he can run on the dirt, he can sprint, he can go long. Were there any moments you knew a horse would be good? Last year at the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint I was looking at this filly named Bar of Gold warm up on the track. She's 50-1. ere's no way, if you're looking at the horse herself and her perfor- mances through the year, that she would win. But I saw her on the track and I followed her plenty of times before in New York, and I was thinking, "I've never seen her look so good before." So I get on air and I just say this is a long shot. I think she's going to outrun her odds, but she's 50-1. And she wound up winning the race. I would say that was probably the highlight in noticing that they're doing really well and then performing well on a big stage. Gabby Gaudet 27, Louisville, Ky. Racing Analyst

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