Everyone at Saratoga Race Course seems to know the infamous Eric Guillot, be it for his strong Louisiana accent coupled with mind-boggling allegories, delectable gumbo or for monstrous upsets in major Saratoga stakes. (Editor's note: Originally published in Aug. 6 issue of The Saratoga Special.)
Guillot dons plaid and camouflage shorts during training hours, wears a T-shirt that reads "I got haters everywhere" to the Whitney post draw in 2015 but there are numbers behind his personality. He's racked up purse earnings of more than $12 million and 19 graded stakes in his career.
At Saratoga, Guillot won the Grade 1 Test with Champagne d'Oro in 2010, the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational in 2014 with Moreno and last week's Grade 2 Jim Dandy with Laoban.
"All my fan base is starting to call me the 'dragon slayer' in New York," Guillot said. "Dragon slayer's sharpening his sword on both sides, getting ready to slay me some more on Travers Day."
Guillot's Saratoga string numbers 15, a dozen promising 2-year-olds and three 3-year-olds, stabled in Barn 2 near the Receiving Barn across Nelson Avenue and in a second barn on the harness track.
"Welcome to Guillot's Southern Slum Dog Stables' Main Headquarters," Guillot said Thursday as he stopped his golf cart in front of Barn 2 with The Special's Shayna Tiller in tow.
Laoban: Fourth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass and sixth in Grade 1 Preakness, the son of Uncle Mo broke his maiden in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy July 30. "Here's the big horse. I felt pretty excited, like a kid in a candy store. Looked like he wanted to run again. He's good, doing great, went back to the track today. Got to line up the pony, because he's high. Going to the Travers."
Fearless Dragon: The Keeneland maiden winner finished sixth in LARC Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard. "We threw him to the wolves in the Sir Barton, 50-1 on Preakness Day. He ran a really good race, split the field, did all the running from the 12 hole, muddy track. He just came back off of injury reserve. He chipped an ankle on that muddy track but he's getting ready to breeze his second half-mile (Saturday). I'm hoping to get him back to the races and get him in an a-other-than allowance before the meet's over. He's a really nice horse. He has a chance of being a stakes horse. The best part is I own 20 percent of him."
Taken To Church: The 2-year-old Bodemeister colt breezed a half-mile in :48.55 Friday on the main track. "Bodemeister is the one that has the white-faced foal (owner Southern Equine's popular newcomer born this year). I don't know what religion he is yet, but he's taking somebody to church. He's a pretty nice horse. He's a pretty nice colt, got a lot of chrome on him, white legs, white everything."
Moreno Mojo: Purchased for $170,000, the 2-year-old son of Pioneerof The Nile has breezed twice since arriving at Saratoga last month. "This is my next big horse in my opinion; he's going to be the real deal. Named after Moreno, my good horse, when he won the Whitney . . . I don't know why Mike (Moreno of Southern Equine) named Moreno Mojo after himself, because I don't know if he has any mojo. Very nice horse. He's by the right sire, too. Working his second half this weekend. I'm really high on this horse."
Whooo Here We Go: Southern Equine's 2-year-old Gemologist colt finished sixth in debut June 16 at Churchill Downs. "Named after Doug O'Neill's famous saying that he says every time before big races. That's his favorite thing, he does the pound the fist with the explosion and he goes WHOO Here We Go! So that's why I named him. The next one I name after him is Why Not Us, that's another thing he says. He ran once at Churchill, got tired, was in contention all the way, real fast. He's a really nice colt just coming back after a shin and he'll start back working Saturday."
Midway Playa: The 2-year-old colt by American Lion cost $20,000 at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale. "Just worked his second three-eighths. He's got my famous potato mud on his legs, my poultice I've been making for 30 years with potatoes in it. My farm is in Midway, Kentucky, and years ago my brother (dated) four women when he first got to Midway, so I named him Midway Playa. He's doing good, really good."
Wave On Wave: The 2-year-old is by Smart Strike out of the Bertrando mare Perfectly Pretty. "This is a really nice horse. He's kind of behind in maturity but he's a half to a millionaire Grade 1 winner (Idiot Proof). We should name him Half Price, but his name is Wave On Wave because my partner's favorite song is Wave On Wave or something. He's a nice baby. He just started, he's way behind, just galloping."
Hot As Hades: The Louisiana-bred 2-year-old is by Redding Colliery out of the Unbridled's Song mare Underworld. "This actually is a very nice Louisiana-bred. Bought him in June, didn't realize he was even a Louisiana-bred until after I saw him. I was heading to the restroom, look to the left and saw him being shown. I thought, 'What a nice looking horse, I've got to go check him out.' He worked :48 and change, working his first five-eighths this weekend. Like I said, Louisiana-bred by an unproven sire but he's got a good bottom side."
Stella Performance: Purchased for $140,000, she is an all bay filly without any white marks. "She's a Trappe Shot filly. Very, very classy. Very typey. Pretty head. Her work was very impressive at the sale. She's just starting as well."
Blue Xanadu: The 2-year-old by Shackleford out of the Maria's Mon mare Mecanique cost $75,000. "My old lady named him because he's blue, she loves him because he's a beautiful horse. He's got a pretty color, blueberry roan as we call them. He's by Shackleford out of a stakes mare. He's a pretty nice horse, getting closer to running. He's got about three five-eighths in him. We're waiting to get an OK from the gate. He's a real pretty animal. He's got a real pretty head on him. Little nervous like his daddy, Shackleford, but he's starting to come around."
Michelle d'Oro: "She's a 3-year-old Bernardini maiden that hasn't started yet, that we let mature. She's small. She's out of my good filly that won the Test here (in 2010), Champagne d'Oro. This is her first foal. She just came in from the farm this week, getting started back. Doing good so far, loves it. She hasn't been to Siro's yet, hasn't been downtown on Broadway shopping, but other than that she likes it."
Blurred Line: The 2-year-old colt by Girolamo out of the Lion Heart mare Fast Heart cost $55,000 at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale. "He's a New York-bred, very nice. He'll probably make the end of the meet if everything goes right. He's a very, very nice colt I bought from the Maryland sale. I liked the size, pedigree, class factor. I like him a lot. He acts like he can run. He's been working really well here for me as a 2-year-old. He's big."
Elle Elizabeth: "Named after my partner Elle (Dehere)'s daughter Elizabeth, she shows jumper horses. She's just starting back. I didn't have room, so the three fillies are just starting because I left them at the farm to let them catch up. None of them are breezing, they're just catching up. She's a Tapizar filly out of a Grade 3 placed mare (Marwood). Very nice filly."
Don't Beleve Watch: "This is my partner Mike's 'champion' 2-year-old. He bought this one, I bought the other six of them there. He knows I didn't like her as much as he did, so he named her 'Don't Beleve Watch' and I said I don't believe but I'll watch. But this is Mike Moreno's next champion by Majesticperfection. She moves really well, her work was impressive, but she's got a little bit of a cheaper look to her compared to the rest but who knows they run in all different sizes, shapes and forms. Like I told him, cheap horses run too, they just run cheaper."
Recalibrating: The 3-year-old Malibu Moon colt is out of the Irish-bred Royal Academy mare Sleepytime, and was scratched Sunday when it rained. "He's a professional maiden starting again on the turf. He's as quirky as it gets. His nickname was Rail Jumper in his first race. He came weaving in and out of traffic, got beat a (half-length). Twenty minutes we were waiting for our horse to be unsaddled, we didn't know where he was. He dropped the kid, jumped the rail, and ran around the back Del Mar barn area. Everybody was scared to ride him for three or four races, so they nicknamed him in the jocks' room Rail Jumper. He's doing well now though, running next week. He's a head case."