This is Part 2 of the New York Racing Associations interview session with the connections of 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice after the race. Present were trainer Todd Pletcher, Cott Campbell representing owners Dogwood Stables, and of course, jockey Mike Smith.
Q. Earlier in the week you were talking about driving with your dad to first come to work [at Belmont Park for Wayne Lukas]. Can you talk about those days, your thoughts? You ever thought you’d get to the spot you’re at now?
TODD PLETCHER: No, I never dreamed it would happen that way. I was telling someone the other day when they were talking about Easy Goer and Sunday Silence. My dad and I drove up, it was like a 24-hour drive, basically, and we got to the hotel in time to see that Preakness.
As you’re coming here next day is my first day of working for Wayne and, you know, couldn’t have imagined getting the opportunity to win races like this.
Q. Do you still get excited and nervous about this type of thing? What are you feeling in the moment?
TODD PLETCHER: I don’t know if they showed in the replay yet. They were filming me in the grandstand. I told Mike about the 16th pole, I jumped on pretty hard. I kind of looked and I thought that point he had a good chance and kind of surveyed the rest. Better help Mike ride this one home.
Q. How does it feel to have your sons here and your dad and family be a part of it?
TODD PLETCHER: You know, what’s really gratifying more for me about the job that I have is that something that you can share with your friends and family, and you know, having my dad here and my whole family here, and my best friend from college came today, him and his wife, roommates in college. So they came in. Really, to me, this win was for Mr. Campbell.
Q. What are your plans now and future plans for Palace Malice, if anything?
TODD PLETCHER: I mean, I know Mr. Campbell pretty well. I imagine he’s got Saratoga on his mind pretty quick.
Q. Todd, can you elaborate on what this means, to win this for Dogwood and, you know, a client of yours for a very long time?
TODD PLETCHER: Mr. Campbell gave me an opportunity when no one knew who I was, and I didn’t have any horses. He’s been a supporter of me, basically, from the very beginning. We’ve had a long, terrific relationship. He’s been very, very good to me.
COTHRAN CAMPBELL: Let me pitch in and say that I sent maybe four horses to Todd in 1996, and I guess he had eight, and he might have lied a little about his age. I think he said he was 30, and he probably was 29, but it’s been a great relationship and we’ve hit it off, we never had a bad moment, and I’m proud of what he’s done.
He will go down as one of the great trainers in the history of the game. At least I had the good sense to give him a shot early on. Lucky.