One of my favorite horses and stories to come out of my first season announcing at Tampa Bay Downs has been the ascension of Filly turf runner Bleecker Street. When she came here she had won her maiden race and her first level allowance. She won her first start here and followed it up with a win in the Grade 3 Endeavour Stakes and then the Grade 2 Hillsborough Stakes, our biggest turf race of the season. Piloting Bleecker Street to all five of her wins has been jockey Hector Diaz Jr. This week I'm thrilled to welcome in Hector's agent Shawn Klotz to talk a little about his career, Hector, and Bleecker Street.
Jason Beem: What are your first memories of horse racing and how did you get into it?
Shawn Klotz: My uncle took me to the track when I was 12 and that was it for me. As I got older two of my best friends dads were an owner and trainer.
JB: What were some of your Favorite horses/races growing up?
SK: Well now Bleecker street is definitely my favorite horse, but growing up I would say I loved watching the Kentucky Derby every year.
JB: Had you had roles in the industry before becoming a jockeys agent?
SK: Yes I was an owner before becoming a jockey agent.
JB: Who was the first jockey you got to represent?
SK: Wilmer Garcia when he was a bug boy
JB: What are the best and hardest parts of being a jockeys agent?
SK: The best part I would say the excitement of winning. Hardest part is trying to keep everyone happy for sure, which can be a tough balancing act.
JB: How did you first meet and partner up with Hector Diaz Jr.?
SK: Hector was a bug boy and the Saratoga meet was coming up and I had Cornelio Velasquez and he was going back to Florida. Hector’s agent at the time asked if I wanted to take him to Monmouth and I knew the bug did well there so I said sure let’s give it a go. We started rolling right away, we started the meet six weeks late and still finished 5th in the standings. He ended up being nominated for an Eclipse Award for apprentice of the year. Five years later we are still climbing the ladder together.
JB: What do you think are his biggest strengths as a rider?
SK: I would say Hector's best strengths are he is patient and has a great set of hands . And he just has a natural ability to read a race and see it unfold before it does .
JB: Bleecker Street has become a top horse for Hector, you've ridden her in all 5 of her wins, did you think much of her before and after her debut?
SK: Hector had been working her at Monmouth and he said she could run a bit but I never thought we had what we had because he works a lot of horses for Chad and he has so many great horses so we got pretty lucky to end up riding her. We can’t thank Chad and Peter Brant for keeping us on her .
JB: What was it like watching the Grade 2 Hillsborough the other week when she blew away her competition?
SK: It was awesome watching it because I know Hector has so much confidence in her. I knew he was just waiting to let her run and at about the 3/8 I started to yell and scream. It was a lot of fun because my boys were cheering her on as well. Definitely an amazing moment.
JB: When you ride a good horse like that I imagine many other agents are trying to get the mount, what can you as an agent do to keep mounts on good horses like her?
SK: I'm sure there are agents trying to ride her that’s their job . There isn’t much we can do since Hector has done everything right on her and they're a perfect five for five together. We just have faith that Chad and Peter keep us on. Chad knows we will go anywhere to ride her.
JB: What's next for you and Hector after Tampa?
SK: New York and Monmouth for the spring and summer. And ofcourse where ever Bleecker Street runs, we will go!
Thanks so much Shawn and good luck to you and Hector!