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Louisiana Derby Preview Day Quotes
Race 11-Grade II, $300,000 Risen Star Stakes
3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles, 39th running
Jockey Javier Castellano (El Padrino, winner): “You know I thought it not a big deal (the brushing in the stretch). Before the wire, we were real tight. We never had big contact, though, and I think it was a good race and a very exciting race.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher (El Padrino, winner): “I thought it was a huge effort shipping into the track for the first time and the track appeared it was playing to speed the last couple days. We chased down a really good horse, it looked like.”
Can we expect to see him back here for the Louisiana Derby? “We’ll bring him back to Palm Meadows on Monday and we’re certainly happy enough with the race today that that will be one of our first options. I’ll get together with the Lets Go guys and we’ll come up with a game plan but that’ll certainly be high on our list.
“You hope it’s the kind of race that he’ll improve forward and become battle-tested a little bit and he’s getting a little bit more professional all the time and, hopefully, learning how to win.
“I think racing is going to help him. He’s got two good mile-and-a-sixteenth races under his belt now so this year we’ve got a good foundation but he’s a big, strong colt, carries plenty of condition, and he’s a big, laid-back horse on a daily basis so I think he’s the kind of horse that needs racing to get more and more fit. He’s not one to give you a huge effort every day and that’s good in the long run, but sometimes those kind of horses take a little longer to reach their peak.”
Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Mark Valeski, second): “He put in a game effort. Other than the brushing down the lane, I feel like if we were on the outside we probably would’ve won it. The seven-horse bumped me just slightly down the lane a few times and was more leaning on me the whole way than anything else. Many times it feels worse than it looks and that was the case today.
Trainer Larry Jones (Mark Valeski, second): “It was big-time race for him. He did really well. Other than that it’s been kind of a sucky day, but yeah, that was good.
Is the inside horse at a disadvantage in a stretch duel? “Rosie felt that it did (make a difference). He’s trying to get off the rail and Javier just kept pushing him down in there. He’s trying to lean his body to stay off the rail and trying to hang in there, too. She said that if he’s on the outside they don’t beat him.”
Trainer Steve Asmussen (Z Dager, third): “It was better. They flew home. I think competition had a little bit to do with it today. He ran good; he ran solid. Shane gave him a dream trip and he ran well. You just keep moving forward and this keeps him in the game. I’d like to proceed to the Louisiana Derby with him off of that and we’ll see what we can do.”
Trainer Larry Jones (Mr. Bowling, 11th): “I really don’t know and Robby said he didn’t know. He started calling on him and felt like he was struggling getting over the track but we’ll see. There’s a lot of time between now and when his career’s over so we’ll figure him out.”
Race 10-$75,000 Colonel Power Stakes
4-year-olds and up, 5 ½ furlongs on turf, 25th running
Trainer Steve Margolis (Country Day, winner): “He’s been a great horse for us. Always gives us his all. Like you said, had some tough beats but always ran good against really tough competition. We are real thrilled to get him back on the winning track today.
“There’s the race on Derby Day going five-eighths and there’s a race at Keeneland, the Shakertown. Don’t know if we’ll do both. We’ll just have to wait and see. It will be one or the other though.”
NOTE: Margolis won this race last year with Due Date.
Race 9-Grade III, $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap
4-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles, 27th running
Jockey Jesse Campbell (Nates Mineshaft, winner): “Well, in my estimation the race was won in the first turn. The training job speaks for itself. This horse has gotten so good. He’s improved so much in such a short time. He used to be a little rank. He lets me ride him now and the horse is just full of confidence. Truthfully, he’s doing things that he probably shouldn’t do. When horses get good that’s what they do.”
Trainer Austin Smith (Nates Mineshaft, winner): “Jesse and I talked it over this morning and I told him if he can make the lead to go ahead and make it and he backed them up, 25 and 1, 49 and 1. That’s when the race was won. The horse is getting good. If you saw the last race, he was worth the opportunity to try him in here. He just dominated that bunch. Wasn’t anything like this bunch but he is four-for-four on the racetrack. But we were here and didn’t have to ship anywhere; took a shot.”
“My wife, Anne, gets on this horse every morning and she just takes such good care of him. You can just see him every week getting better and better. She’s been getting on him since he got to New Orleans and I think she likes the horse better than she likes me! They have a pretty good relationship.”
Will you try the April 1 Grade II New Orleans Handicap? “We’ll get him back to the barn, give him a couple days and see where we’re at but that’s obviously a logical spot.”
Owner Pete Raymond of Windy Hill Farm (Nates Mineshaft, winner): “Good trainer. Good rider. Good horse. That’s a winning combination.
“Take a look at the way he is improving. We gave him two easy outs this year and that got his head into the game.”
NOTE: Thiskyhasnolimit was pulled up on the backside after suffering an injury appearing to be to his right-front distal cannon bone, according to state veterinarian Dr. Nancy Bonhoff. The horse was vanned off.
Race 7-Grade III, $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes
3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles, 31st running
Jockey Robby Albarado (Summer Applause, winner): “It was a great ride from the start until the end. She rated kindly on the backside. We were hoping that the speed duel would materialize. We thought we’d be third or fourth on the backside and we were. I was just trying to be a good passenger. I got clear turning for home and she ran home nice. She’s grown up rapidly the last couple of weeks, I noticed, working her. She’s become a pretty nice filly.”
Trainer Bret Calhoun (Summer Applause, winner): “I was a little nervous down the backside when that filly shook loose in 24 and change. For those kind of horses, that’s pretty slow and I expected some company in front for her. So us being little bit further back of it with those kind of fractions I was a little nervous.
“Our filly ran a great race. She’s going the right direction. She’s maturing mentally and physically all the time, getting good at the right time, and I think she’s developed the kind of style that will keep her going. There’s going to be more speed in these races coming up and hopefully that will serve us better down the line.”
Is the March 31 Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks her likely next start? “We are going to enjoy the moment. We want to get the right spacing for her. Obviously, the ultimate goal is the Kentucky Oaks and we want to figure out the best way to get her there.
“I really don’t know where we go from here. I would like that spot, stay right here and run in our own backyard. But we’re going to look at all options and see what the best spacing is to get her to the Kentucky Oaks. I still think she’s a little light; she’s a slight filly. But it would be nice to run her out of her stall and save more of her for later in the year.”
Jockey James Graham (Avie’s Sense, second): “She was maybe a little keen down the backside but she’s supposed to be, you know? She just got a little tired down the lane. What can you do?”
Trainer Josie Carroll (Avie’s Sense, second): “She’s a pretty inexperienced filly. We tried to get an allowance race to go after her maiden win and it didn’t fill. That maybe hurt her a little bit, but I know how good the other filly (Summeer Applause) is so I’m very happy. She’s graded stakes-placed off of her maiden win so we’re happy with that.”
Will she come back in the March 31 Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks? “I hope so. I think we’ll move on from this and I think she deserves to. She fought and she got a little tired.”
Race 6-Grade III, $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap
4-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles on turf, 25th running
Jockey Edgar Prado (Smart Bid, winner): “When I got close (to Mr. Vegas on the lead) I thought we were just going to blow by but that horse kept on fighting. I’m glad that I got it.”
What went wrong in his last start, an eighth-place finish in September at Parx Racing? “The ground was very soft and it was deep inside. My horse lost footing and he just quit running after that.”
Trainer Graham Motion (Smart Bid, winner): “He really does love Fair Grounds and he is just such a game horse. The finishes are always close with him but he’s a neat horse. Edgar knows this horse very well. I was a little concerned because I thought he waited a little bit longer than he normally does to ask him to run; normally he asks him quite early. But he obviously knew what he was doing and it just worked out great. Maybe we’ll have to come back for the next one (the Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Memorial Handicap on April 1, which Smart Bid won last year).”
Jockey Miguel Mena (Mr. Vegas, second): “We had a little bit of pressure early from the nine horse (Ioya Bigtime) and I think that cost us the race. My horse ran game; he ran hard. It was an extra sixteenth of a mile today but he tried.”
Trainer Richie Scherer (Mr. Vegas, second): “He ran a huge race. The first quarter got him. Ioya Bigtime laid on him going a 24 quarter.”
Race 5-Allowance/Optional Claiming
4-year-olds and up, 1 mile and 70 yards
Trainer Steve Asmussen (Nehro, winner): “He rewarded them for all the time that they gave him. They did the right thing. I was extremely tempted to bring him back last year, with the (Breeders’ Cup) Classic being run at Churchill and as good as he had ran at a mile-and-a-quarter and it looking to be such a wide-open year. But we had him in training up at Saratoga and he just needed a little more time. They sent him up to WinStar and they did a wonderful job with him. He acted a great and looked super ever since he came here. I think the timing of this race – I was a little concerned, he doesn’t have a lot of work in him – but I think it puts us right on schedule for the New Orleans Handicap.”
Race 4-$60,000 Gentilly Stakes
Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles on turf, 30th running
Jockey Corey Lanerie (Look At the Time, winner): “My horse broke really sharp. Put me right where I wanted to be going around the first turn I was right behind Freddie One Bite. I thought he’d be my target so I tried to stalk him. The whole race I was travelling really nice. I was really happy with my position and when I called on him he just accelerated.”
Trainer Wes Hawley (Look At the Time, winner): “The first time we ran him we were a little disappointed that we were taken down. This last time we won. Then, of course, we felt like we were undefeated so why not take a shot here?”
Next start? “Well, at the present time it’s the Crescent City Derby at the end of the meet, but there is also the possibility, the way he ran today, that we would nominate him to the Blue Grass (Stakes, a Grade I Kentucky Derby prep April 14 at Keeneland).”