11/08/2012 1:51PM

Q&A: Jim Rome talks Breeders' Cup and beyond

Benoit & Associates

Jim Rome is one of the most well-known sports broadcasters in America and reaches millions of fans (affectionately referred to as “clones”) through his Los Angeles-based syndicated radio show, “The Jim Rome Show,” as well as his new television show, “Rome,” on the CBS Sports Network. Through his stable, Jungle Racing LLC, he was a winning partner last Saturday with the 4-year-old filly Mizdirection in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita. Rome, 48, has been an outspoken proponent for horse racing after buying into various ownership syndicates several years ago.

Doesn’t it concern you that some of the clones would rather hear about football, basketball, or baseball instead of racing? Of course, everyone in racing is thrilled that you’ve been giving it so much air time.
If it were up to me, I would have spent two entire radio shows talking about Mizdirection’s Breeders’ Cup win. Aside from the day I was married and the birth of my two sons, it was the most spectacular and surreal day of my entire life. But I’m not here to talk about me. I’m here to talk about what the audience wants to talk about. And it really doesn’t want to talk about our horses. The fact that the Breeders’ Cup carried nearly two hours of conversation the Monday after was huge.

You’ve been involved in racing as an owner for how long now? Why did you stop saying “horse racing is not a sport, it’s a bet” and adopt a positive attitude toward it?
My wife, Janet, and I bought a piece of our first Thoroughbred in 2007. And to clarify, I still think it’s a bet. But it’s a sport as well. And I love the animals. And I love the game. But it’s still a bet. And judging from how much I’ve lost, not a very good one. Or I’m not a very good gambler.

You’ve had major racing figures such as Bob Baffert on your show before, and it seems logical that you’d employ a high-profile trainer such as him. The trainer of Mizdirection, Mike Puype, doesn’t really fit that typecast, although racing insiders hold him in high regard.
Let me tell you why I love Mike Puype. He’s honest, hard-working, cares about his horses and his owners, and I trust him. He shoots me straight. My feeling was, and is, I know what I don’t know, and I need someone who will communicate with me and tell me not what I want to hear but what I need to hear. And someone who won’t withhold information from me. Pipes is all those things. Oh, and he just won the group a Breeders’ Cup race with a filly against the boys after the longest layoff a winner has ever had. There is that. Great trainer. Great guy.

You and your partners earned $540,000 on Saturday with Mizdirection. Will you reinvest some of it back in other horses? How about young horses with the intent of getting a Kentucky Derby starter?
What to do with the jack? Pay some bills, obviously. One of the first things I learned was, all it takes is one. Translation: If you’re really lucky, you’ll find one who can pay for some or most of the others that don’t have quite the earning potential. Let’s just say Big Miz just picked up some of her stablemates. But our bloodstock agent Alex Solis (Jr.) has a great eye. If he spots some value, we may take another swing or two. Plus, we have a number in training already that we’re waiting on.

You’ve traveled to Kentucky to check out the farms in Lexington and get a feel for the Derby scene. How important is it becoming to you to have a Derby horse one day?
Janet and I have two retired Thoroughbreds, one foal, and another foal on the way at Three Chimneys Farms. It’s a spectacular operation. We love Kentucky and obviously dream about a shot at the Derby. That said, I don’t obsess over it. Strange as it sounds, after what happened Saturday, I could walk away right now, and I’d be good forever. You have no idea what that day, that experience and Mizdirection mean to Janet and I.

When you got former NFL quarterback Jim Everett all bent out of shape by calling him “Chrissie Everett,” were you referring to the tennis great or the Hall of Fame racehorse?
The tennis great? Or the racehorse? There was a horse named Chris Everett? (Editor’s note: Chris Evert, foal of 1971, filly triple crown winner of 1974.) Really? Was her sire Pete Sampras? Wait, what was the question?

You interviewed someone named Rex on 20 straight shows in 2009 (Rex Chapman, Rex Ryan, Rex Hudler, etc.), and you also had a double-digit Kyle streak in 2011 (Kyle Boller, Kyle Macy, etc.). How about a “Marty” streak leading up to the 2013 Derby? Or, in the spirit of similar semi-obscurity, a “Jay” streak? At DRF, we have two great turf writers based in Southern California in Jay Hovdey and Jay Privman. (Sorry, J-Stew would not qualify.)
Let’s not get crazy.

Romey’s 2012 Horse of the Year?
Wise Dan.

Your favorite track, and why?
Favorite track? Love Del Mar, of course. But the answer has to be Santa Anita, baby. Coming down the hill. That’s where I’ve had my greatest moments: Mizdirection winning the Turf Sprint. Mizdirection winning the Monrovia Stakes. And one of my all-time favorite horses, Surfer Girl, running a game second in her first race here after we purchased her in Brazil.

Should we rack this?
Your show. Your call.

Are you out?
I am out. Peace.