Trainer Silva Talks About Sleepy Eyes Todd, Huge Opportunity in Pegasus

The Life
SLeepy Eyes Todd winning the Lafayette Stakes presented by Keeneland Select Nov. 7. (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

No horse has taken a longer or more winding road to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup than Sleepy Eyes Todd.

The gray or roan son of Paddy O’Prado made stops last season in Texas, Louisiana, Nebraska, West Virginia, California, and Kentucky before capping his itinerant 4-year-old campaign with an impressive victory in the Dec. 19 Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. He held off Firenze Fire, the third-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, by half a length in earning an invitation to the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus at Gulfstream.

Sleepy Eyes Todd has won eight of 15 starts for David Cobb’s Thumbs Up Racing with earnings of $744,825. He is trained by Mexico City native Miguel Silva, 45, who will be bidding for his first Grade 1 victory in the Pegasus on Saturday. Tom Pedulla interviewed Silva on behalf of America’s Best Racing:

PEDULLA: Miguel, how big is your operation?

SILVA: We have 60 in training, another 30 on the farm in Kentucky.

Sleepy Eyes Todd in the morning in October at Keeneland. (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

PEDULLA: Where do you race most of the time?

SILVA: We race in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Minnesota.

PEDULLA: Does that help you place horses properly?

SILVA: Yes. And it is hard to get 60 stalls in any one place, so we spread out a little bit so we can have all of these horses in training.

PEDULLA: Have you ever had a horse like Sleepy Eyes Todd?

SILVA: No. Not even close.

PEDULLA: What makes him special?

SILVA: A lot of horses, they can beat other horses but they don’t want to compete. I guess that is the definition of class.

PEDULLA: What allows him to travel so well?

SILVA: His personality. You know, he’s really a calm horse. Nothing bothers him. He’s just a happy individual.

PEDULLA: Given the expenses involved, why did you determine that it was in your interests and those of the owner to ship so much?

SILVA: The beginning of the pandemic made us do that, and we were trying to put him in races where he belonged. Every single race he’s been stepping up and giving us the opportunity to point him to where we are now, the Pegasus.

PEDULLA: How much time do you typically give him to acclimate to a new site?

SILVA: We like to be there at least a couple of weeks before the race.

PEDULLA: Do you always work him over the surface?

SILVA: Yes, we do.

PEDULLA: Do you think he likes moving around? Does it keep him interested?

SILVA: I think so. Every morning when he goes to the track, he stands around for 10, 15 minutes and looks around and looks at every horse that goes by him. I think he enjoys his life, you know?

PEDULLA: You’ve had nine riders in the last nine races. Do you have to give a lot of prerace instructions?

SILVA: It is really hard. When the horse broke his maiden, he came from behind. Then, for some reason, every single race they try to put him on the lead. It’s been a challenge because it’s hard to tell a high-profile jockey what to do.

PEDULLA: You prefer that he sit well off the pace?

SILVA: Yes, at least be mid-pack and try to finish strong in the race and not tire on the front and be stopping by the end of the race.

PEDULLA: Who will ride in the Pegasus?

SILVA: Jose Ortiz is committed right now and we’re very happy about it.

PEDULLA: How is he training up to the Pegasus?

SILVA: He is doing amazing.

PEDULLA: He has been at Gulfstream Park for a while. Is that helping him?

SILVA: I sure hope so. He is eating very well. He has his horse friend with him. He is very happy right now. I don’t see anything that can bother him right now.

Martinez with Sleepy Eyes Todd after his win in Charles Town Classic. (Coady Photography)

PEDULLA: How important is it that his groom, Rafael Martinez, and his exercise rider, Jose Sandoval, have traveled with him?

SILVA: It’s very important. They do 90% of the job. When the horse crosses the wire at the end of every single race, it’s a new beginning. People sometimes don’t realize that the day the horse crosses the wire is when everything starts again, and it takes weeks sometimes to get the job done.

PEDULLA: You mentioned that Sleepy Eyes Todd has a horse friend. How important is it that he has Go Speed Racer Go (newly-turned 3-year-old) as his companion?

SILVA: He always has the stall next to him. They like to play and bite each other and, you know, horse stuff. They play with each other a lot.

PEDULLA: What would it mean to you to win the Pegasus?

SILVA: Wow, that would be amazing. It’s one of those things that you dream all the time of winning these kinds of races.

PEDULLA: If you could win, would it be a huge step forward for you as a trainer?

SILVA: It would be great. Always looking forward. That is the plan, starting to get better-bred horses and, hopefully, that happens.

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