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Complete Preview Day Stakes Quotes


Race 10-Grade II, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes

3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles, 40th running

Jockey James Graham (Ive Struck a Nerve, winner): “In the mornings he is being really aggressive in his work patterns with company so today and the last race he was aggressive around the first turn. Today, once I got him settled he did everything I asked him to do. He finished off strong. Galloped out good and had a great trip.”

Trainer Keith Desormeaux (Ive Struck a Nerve, winner): “Every time this horse has gone a distance he’s had some kind of trouble. We have talked about it several times, Matt Bryan and I, and we just wanted a clean trip at a distance and if he got beat 14 lengths again we’d quit trying but we have had trouble every trip and James rode him perfectly and obviously he proved what Matt and I knew that he is a nice horse.”

Owner Matt Bryan of Big Chief Racing (Ive Struck a Nerve, winner): “I called my wife and told her to get fitted for a Derby hat. As long as I live I will re-live this race over and over. We have been waiting for a clean trip and we got it today. Once he got free on the outside we went absolutely crazy.

“I have always believed in Keith Desormeaux. You put a good horse in his hands and you better watch out. He’s a great horseman and we wanted to put our money behind him.”

Jockey Martin Garcia (Code West, second):“I mean, my horse ran really good and then I was in a really good position and it looks like, that horse outside, he is surprising because my horse he was really competitive in the stretch but he never saw the horse outside, which is surprising."

Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Palace Malice, third):“He was really not standing great in the gate and maybe got off just a step slow so we lost some position but, having said that, I ended up getting an excellent trip. Was able to save ground when I wanted, I wasn’t forced to move early or late, so we got a good trip. He ran a great race and we got beat half a length for everything so for his first race two turns and all that I think it was an excellent race.”

Jockey Jon Court(Oxbow, fourth):“I had a good, clean trip. He didn’t break really running. I didn’t want him to get in a hurry leaving there and burn himself out. He just sat off the pace; I knew he didn’t have to be on the lead. He ended up inheriting the lead and I just straightened for hom and sat down and went for the gusto like I did last time, but the last 40, 50 yards they overtook me.”

NOTE: This is the first graded stakes win for Keith Desormeaux.


Race 9-Grade III, $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes

3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles, 32nd running

Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Unlimited Budget, winner):“She was much the best. It ended up being a crazy pace up front so we were a little further back but it set up well for her and she just galloped away with it.”

Whit Beckman, Assistant to Trainer Todd Pletcher (Unlimited Budget, winner):“She’s been a filly that’s shown that she could do pretty much whatever she needs to. Preferred the race to be on the lead but with that hot pace in front of her it set up well and showed some versatility, so we were happy.”

Jockey Miguel Mena (Promise Me More, second): “I had a good trip. I was just in the back of the pack, I had a nice break, saved a lot of ground, and then from the quarter-pole she made a very nice run.”

Trainer Wes Hawley (Promise Me More, second): “Second best but coming on late. We will take that today. I don’t think we were going to catch that other filly but a mile-and-one-eighth is a different story.”

Hawley indicated Keeneland’s Ashland and the Fair Grounds Oaks are both under consideration.

Trainer Larry Jones (Blue Violet, third): “This filly’s getting better. I had her mother (Gasia) and I’m seeing a very similar pattern but this filly is getting better faster than her mother did and her mother was a Grade II horse. Every race is a continued improvement and no race is getting a huge improvement which makes you think there isn’t going to be a bounce factor.

Trainer Larry Jones (Dancinginthecircle, fifth): “She was very rank. She hadn’t run since early January. You worry looking at her pedigree whether she’d get the mile-and-a-sixteenth. She’s very fast. Probably we’ll keep her at shorter distances.”


Race 8-Grade III, $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap

4-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles, 28th running

Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Mark Valeski, winner): “I think everybody had some anxious moments there, including myself. We were really boxed in and I know I was sitting behind a couple of horses that were going to make a run and they just weren’t running fast enough, so I was finally was able to tip to the outside and, I mean, he just took off and he was much the best today. He is such a class horse and just a nice horse to be around so I am thankful for Larry and Brereton for having me on today.”

Trainer Larry Jones (Mark Valeski, winner): “Well, you know, we are going to plan to stay here for the New Orleans Handicap. It’s a big-dollar race and we are going to have a lot of competition with Graydar and Bourbon Courage coming in. So we are going to get a shot to really see what they got in their hand here.”

Owner Brereton C. Jones (Mark Valeski, winner): “Well, it is totally special and not only were we fortunate enough to breed the horse but fortunate enough, I think, to take him to stud when all of this is over and give other people a chance to get a part of him and a part of Proud Citizen. Proud Citizen is being such a fabulous sire and I think that everyone knows. Last year, as you know, we had Believe You Can here and won the Oaks and then won the Kentucky Oaks after the Fair Grounds Oaks and we have been blessed and we are very grateful to the good guy who made all this possible.

“He was totally boxed in. Those jocks are smart. Don’t ever underestimate their ability to find ways to beat you in competition. Rosie had no way to go but finally got his head turned and ran out of there.

“As a baby he was always extremely intelligent. I have found over the years that there is a correlation between intelligence and talent and this colt has them both.”

Trainer Bernie Flint (Cool Street, second): “He tried hard. He’s a good, honest horse and they don’t make a nicer, kinder, more honest horse. Believe me, if he (John Jacinto) had only had an opportunity to ride him before, I believe he could’ve got him. It’s hard to ride a horse like that; it’s deceiving. But look who beat him – a very good horse. These are great horses and he fits in with them. He showed his worth.”

Will he get a shot at the New Orleans Handicap? “Who’s going to beat him? This horse is coming, not going. I thought this horse was going to be undefeated at this meet, I really did. This would’ve been his last race here, but I can’t quit on him here now at this stage of the game.”

NOTES:Napravnik won this race in 2011 with Demarcation…Jones won this race in 2009 with Honest Man.


Race 7-Grade III, $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap

4-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles on turf, 26th running

Jockey Jon Court(Optimizer, winner):“His performance was as top-shelf as it could possibly have been. Compared to last time it was a little more of an eventful trip. We were in and out trying to find the best part of the track and, when it came down to it, I did venture down on the inside and I got back to the outside; we were trying to find the firmest spot out there and it’s all pretty soft. But he handled it well enough to save some ground and make that move towards the lead down on the inside and that put us in the winner’s circle.”

Wayne Lukas is under the weather?“He is fighting a little cold but the best medicine is winning races.”

Jockey Richard Eramia (Bim Bam, second):“Everybody – the horses on the lead, the horses behind – everybody waited to make one run from the quarter-pole. The only thing you had to do on this grass was wait. My horse ran a strong race and finished even and that was a good thing.”


Race 5-$75,000 Bayou Handicap

Fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, About 1 1/16 miles on turf, 45th running

Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Snuggs and Kisses, winner): “You know, we were able to get a really nice pace from the inside. At the three-eighths pole, Daisy Devine was kind of creeping up on us and I said ‘Oh boy, here she comes’ but my filly really stuck it out and kept her nose in front the whole way. It was a very game effort.”

Trainer Tom Amoss (Snuggs and Kisses, winner):“We weren’t going to run if it stayed on the grass. The whole idea was to run if it came off the grass. Daisy Devine is a great filly. Obviously, she is a great turf filly. So, maybe a little vulnerable today on the dirt. We were able to take advantage of it. My filly ran her heart out and, you know, Rosie rode a good race too.”

“Today, quite frankly, if you’re going to beat Daisy Devine you’re only going to it running on the dirt and when she’s conceding a lot of weight to us.”

Trainer Andrew McKeever (Daisy Devine, second):“Too much weight on the dirt. Wouldn’t have mattered on the turf, probably, but on the dirt, too much.”

NOTES:This race was run on the main track at 1 1/16 miles…Napravnik won this race for the third year in a row, following wins aboard Artemus Kitten last season and Upperline in 2011.


Race 3-$60,000 Gentilly Stakes

Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds, One mile on turf, 31st running

Jockey Colby Hernandez (Sunbean, winner): “I knew there was quite a bit of speed and when they broke they were ripping right along there. When I got around going into the second turn I just eased my hands out a little bit and he just picked it up for me. I smooched at him at the quarter-pole and he just ran on by.

“This horse has carried me the whole meet. I’ve been having a tough meet and he’s just carried me right along.”

Owner and Breeder Evelyn Benoit of Brittlyn Stable (Sunbean, winner):“That was exactly what we’ve felt about that horse. From day one we felt he was an outstanding horse and Al did a tremendous job getting him ready and teaching him to relax and go get them.”

If not for the post would he have tried the Risen Star today? “Yes. I wasn’t scared. It’s not about whether we would have won or lost; it’s about showing that Louisiana can put an animal out there that’s as competitive as Kentucky or New York and we will do that.”

NOTE:This race was run on the main track at one mile and 70 yards.