Brisset hopes to toast Talk Veuve to Me after Indiana Oaks
Story by Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award winning turf writer
Rodolphe Brisset and his wife, Brooke, named the 2-year-old filly they bought last year Talk Veuve to Me as a shout-out to a champagne they enjoy. The filly has delivered on her name, providing the Brissets lots of reasons to pop the cork — and that’s only four races into Talk Veuve to Me’s career.
Race five is Saturday night’s $200,000, Grade 3 Indiana Oaks at Indiana Grand, where a victory would greatly enhance the value of Talk Veuve to Me, who already is Grade 1-placed, having finished second in Belmont Park’s Acorn behind Kentucky Oaks winner Monomoy Girl.
Talk Veuve to Me is the even-money favorite in the Indiana Oaks’ field of eight 3-year-old fillies. The assembly includes Indiana Grand allowance winners Molecules and Diamondcoat; the Brad Cox-trained duo of Figerella’s Queen (winner of Gulfstream Park’s $150,000 Sanibel Island and most recently a second-level allowance race at Churchill Downs) and Keeneland’s Grade 3 Beaumont runner-up Kelly’s Humor; and allowance winners Skeptic, Harbor Lights and Haynesfest.
“She’s been a pleasure to be around. She’s shown class and quality since Day One,” the French-born Brisset said by phone from Lexington, Ky., his main base. “I consider myself very lucky to have been able to buy her.
Brisset purchased the daughter of Violence privately after she failed to sell at a 2-year-old auction in Ocala, Fla. While she didn’t have the sizzling eighth-mile timed workout like horses fetching bigger prices, Brisset says he was more concerned with how she was put together and moved.
“We really fell for her at the sale,” he said. “She showed some character, something about her. She’s unbelievably smart. I’ve been around a lot of horses in my life, and she’s got to be one of the smartest horses I’ve ever been around. It’s scary how smart she is.”
Brisset, an assistant trainer to Hall of Famer Bill Mott, had not started his own stable at the time of the sale, though it was in the works. “We started April 1, and I bought her the first week of March,” he said of his training career. “We really liked her. I’ve got a friend of mine for many years and I called him and asked if he wanted to buy a piece of the horse. He was game, and we went on after that.”
Talk Veuve to Me debuted at Ellis Park last summer for Brisset and his buddy Stephen McKay, finishing second to Harbor Lights. Brisset’s filly developed a tiny stress fracture that required time but no surgery. She won by 11 lengths when she returned to the races March 25 at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
The Team Valor International syndicate subsequently bought majority interest in Talk Veuve to Me, who was a good second in her next start while making the jump to stakes company in Churchill Downs’ Grade 2 Eight Belles.
The 1 1/16-mile Indiana Oaks will be Talk Veuve to Me’s first race around two turns. “I’m very excited to run her two turns,” Brisset said. “If she can carry her speed around two turns, she could be special. I could be wrong, but she gives us all the signs that two turns could be the next step for her.”
He noted being a prohibitive favorite will be a new experience for Talk Veuve to Me.
“Everybody is going to look at us,” he said. “Like the last two times she ran, everyone was looking at Mia Mischief and looking at Monomoy Girl. I think it’s a different approach. We are the one with the race to lose. We got a good draw (post 5). She’s tactical. I know so far she’s been kind of forward (on or near the lead), and I’m pretty sure she will be forward in this race. But we ‘rate’ with her in the morning. It may be how the break plays.”
Talk Veuve to Me will be ridden for the first time by Brisset’s good friend Julien Leparoux as the trainer seeks to win his second graded stakes. His first came at 19-1 in the Tampa Bay Derby March 10 with Quip, ridden that day by another French-born rider and friend in Florent Geroux.
“We haven’t had many chances to team up,” Brisset said of Leparoux, who is based at Gulfstream for the winter while Brisset was in New Orleans. “I mean, he won my first race, which was really, really fun. But after that we didn’t have as many chances to team up as I do with Florent. But I think he’ll fit her perfectly.”