With 30 horses during the recently concluded meet at Saratoga and 40 at Belmont Park, Rudy Rodriguez was busy. Asked about making an appointment for a Stable Tour, Rodriguez laughed, "I'm here all day."
Rodriguez won 15 races, including the Albany and Evan Shipman Stakes and had Magna Light primed for Monday's Grade 1 Hopeful (he finished second). The 2-year-old colt won the Sanford, but was disqualified for interference.
Late in the meet, Rodriguez pulled off his flak jacket and walked down one side and halfway up the other side of his long barn inside the old Horse Haven track.
One stall is empty, a horse claimed. Another is empty, hoping to fill it by the claim box later that afternoon. The rest are occupied by a few promising 2-year-olds and a lot of claimers. It's rare to see a horse with a correct nametag on his halter, that's the nature of the claiming game. Rodriguez's stable has earned $3.6 million this year, placing him 16th by money won in North America.
Born in Mexico, the 43-year-old trainer met with The Special's Sean Clancy Wednesday morning.
Power Crazed: "We ran him the other day, they didn't use the race we wanted, so we ran him in the wrong spot, he had heat stroke after the race, I thought we were going to lose him, we were lucky he was OK."
Magna Light: "The big horse. We are hoping for the Hopeful. He's training very good, he's happy. He's a very cool horse, when he's on the track, he doesn't do anything wrong, I ride him. Over here in the shedrow and the paddock, he's a good feeling horse. He's easy to ride, you can stand on the track for an hour. Right now, he's the best 2-year-old in the barn."
Finn's Quest: "We claimed him for 35 to run on the dirt. I trained him on the grass today, he ran OK on the grass at Laurel. Now, we were waiting for the race to go two times, so we'll try on the grass." (Finished eighth Thursday).
McIlroy: "I don't know what to tell you about this one. We run him a couple of times over here, no good. He won a couple for Chad (Brown). I've got to give it to him, I can't figure this horse out. He trains good, eats good, looks good, I can't get him to run a step."
Midnight Surfer: "This guy, we like him, 2-year-old, finished sixth the other day (Aug. 29), the rail was pretty deep, he went to the inside and slowed down, he didn't embarrass himself. He'll be OK."
First Bid: "He's a cool horse, I thought we claimed a good one, we run him in a starter allowance at Philadelphia and he galloped, we ran him back and he finished dead last, I've got no clue why. We ran him back at Belmont and he flattened out again. Then he finished second up here, maybe he wants seven eighths." (He's in the fifth race Sunday)
Eloquent Tribute: "Tapit filly. We ran her on the grass, she's OK. She galloped at Aqueduct, and I ran her back in a stake, she finished fourth (Marshua, Jan. 29), then second (Cicada, March 15), but we knocked her out. She lost weight. She's got some black type, Mike Ryan owns her. She'll win a couple of races in the winter."
Hushhushmushmush: "Finally, buddy. Finally. He got lucky in Saratoga (broke maiden in 19th start Aug. 28). I think we'll run him back on the 13th at Belmont. He tries. He don't owe nobody nothing."
No Entiendo: "This guy, I think I screwed up. He won here (Aug. 10), I shipped him back to Belmont, then brought him back. I ran him back in a stake back too quick (fifth in Funny Cide, Aug. 28). I screwed up everything. I should have left him at Belmont and run him at Finger Lakes. Shipping horses back and forth, I don't like, especially before a race."
J R Star: "This filly, we like her a lot. She's nice and sound, hopefully she can get the job done Monday (sixth race)."
Star Gazer: "We just started to figure out what's wrong, I think he's going to be OK, maybe he's my Derby horse, who knows? He's a pain in the neck to train, he wants to be the boss, he rears up, wants to do this, wants to do that. In the stall, he's very, very quiet. He runs Saturday (fourth race), hopefully he shows up."
Flower Kisser: "She's been a disaster. We thought she would win first time out, she didn't break, no good. We tried her on the grass, did nothing. I changed everything, pony her, freshen her up, try blinkers, try again."
Towering Moon: "He's run three times for us, third, second and a win. Nice horse, tough, tough horse to gallop. He never breaks good, if he broke good, he'd be a very nice horse."
Good Luck Gus: "This is a pretty horse, a very cool horse. He loves the ice tub, he'd stay all day in there. He won the Albany. Maybe we take him to Philadelphia for the Pennsylvania Derby. We shipped him to Finger Lakes, he lost a lot of weight, so we gave him all the time. He looks good again."
Big Gillette: "He's in Saturday (seventh race). We're just trying with him. Hopefully, he'll show up. He's from Canada, I thought they told me he was a New York-bred, so I entered him in a New York-bred, I thought we were good. He might be OK."
Springcourt: "I've claimed him back and forth, I'm going to run him back Monday (fifth race), he was just third when I claimed him. I'm going to put him in the round pen, not even take him to the track, and run him. He looks better than when I lost him, right buddy?"
Island Therapy: "I claimed this one Wednesday, the boss said enter him back. He's going to run back Sunday (third race, starter allowance)."