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Complete Derby Day Stakes Quotes
Race 3-$100,000 Bayou Handicap
Fillies & mares, Four-years-old and up, 1 1/16 miles on turf, 43rd running
Trainer Mike Stidham (Upperline, winner): “The race was really, really impressive. The one thing that worried me a little bit was I knew that in a small field like that they would be floating her out a bit because she was the big favorite. They kind of kept her out on both turns, which never helps, but she overcame it and was really strong through the lane.”
NOTE: Stidham also won this race last year with Tizaqueena.
Race 6-Grade II, $400,000 New Orleans Handicap
Four-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles, 86th running
Michael Dilger, Assistant to Trainer Todd Pletcher (Mission Impazible, winner): “He just likes it here. He’s been very relaxed all week and the last time he came here it took him a couple of days to settle.”
Jockey Garrett Gomez (Mission Impazible, winner): “I really anticipated him (Birdrun) making the lead, but when I found myself out there – my horse really broke running – I thought for a little ways he was going to let me go out there but all of a sudden we got to the first turn and he wanted to put pressure, but I was able to get this horse to shut off a bit inside where I was comfortable. He didn’t quit pulling, but it was just enough where he was happy with what was going on and as I long as I kept him happy, I thought that when I got to the far turn that we were going slow enough I could kind of get him on his feet and start stretching the field and he did so.”
Managing partner Steve Davison of Twin Creeks Racing Stable (Mission Impazible, winner): “We’ll go to Churchill for the Alysheba, then the Stephen Foster. That’s the plan.”
Part owner Terry Bradshaw (Mission Impazible, winner): How big is your piece in Mission Impazible? “Big enough! When your horse is in the lead, it doesn’t get any better than that. In the Derby he got all beat up, finished ninth. Then the last two races I saw on television. I’m much more comfortable watching on TV than I am in person! But anytime I can get to the races, I do. I’ve gotten so hooked on it.”
Trainer Al Stall Jr. (Apart, second): “He just naturally put himself closer than he’s been in his past few races because the pace was slow up front. That’s also what helped the winner kick on. He’s not at the top level (of competition), but he ran well. We’ll just pick our spots with him and let him grind it out. He’s that kind of horse.”
Jockey Jesse Campbell (Apart, second): “We though there’d be a little quicker pace. I really couldn’t have asked for a better trip. We got out of what we were looking for. This horse fought today. He was beat for second and outkicked a Grade I horse to come back for place. What more could you ask for?”
Trainer Chris Block (Giant Oak, third): Was this result a matter of pace? “I think that played into it. Shaun said he didn’t get into the bridle like he does at Churchill or at Gulfstream.”
Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan (Giant Oak, third): “It was a good trip overall. I felt like he didn’t take well to the track, unlike his last three times. He was spinning his wheels more than anything.”
NOTES: Mission Impazible won last year’s Louisiana Derby. He is the fourth horse to win the Louisiana Derby and New Orleans Handicap in consecutive years, joining Master Derby (1975-76), Peace Rules (2003-04) and Circular Quay (2007-08).
Race 7-$150,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes
Three-year-olds and up, six furlongs, 60th running
Jockey James Graham (Mambo Galliano, winner): “It was perfect. They broke quick. I set my horse to go a little early, which got him into a really good position around the turn. I got some daylight turning for home and off he went.”
Race 8-Grade II, $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks
Three-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles, 45th running
Trainer Andrew McKeever (Daisy Devine, winner): “That was a great result. She trained super going into the race. We were confident. We skipped the Rachel Alexandra and trained her into the race and that did her a lot of good. That was a perfect trip today.”
Jockey James Graham (Daisy Devine, winner): “She’s got a high closing gear. Picks up from it and does what you ask her to do.
“I told the trainer in the paddock that they’ll have to run to outrun her.”
Trainer Andy Leggio Jr. (St. John’s River, second): “She ran her race and she got outrun. She ran a great race. I knew she was that good; that’s why she was in there. We’re going to Keeneland and we’re not sure what after that. We thought if she’d win this race we’d run her in the Kentucky Oaks and we still have that in the back of our minds. If the race had been a little bit longer we would’ve won it.”
Jockey Kent Desormeaux (St. John’s River, second): “She was a little bit upset in the gate. She gave me a great ride. The only thing, that start pinched me back one flight and that’s the flight that I think I would’ve caught the leader from if she doesn’t lunge the gate at the start. I’m looking forward to riding her next time.”
Trainer Ken McPeek (Niji’s Grand Girl, third): “She’s such a hard tryer. We may try her there (in the Kentucky Oaks). She broke her maiden there. We’ll see. She ran a good race and at this point we’re just trying to get her cooled out. Whether she runs in the Kentucky Oaks and all that depends on how she does between now and then. It’s possible; I’m not going to rule it out.”
Trainer Josie Carroll (Inglorious, fourth): “We’re a little disappointed. She didn’t get the opportunity to kick home the way she normally would, you know, sit back and wait and kick home. But she ran her race against nice horses and hopefully she comes out of it well and that’s all we can ask for.
Might the Kentucky Oaks still be under consideration? “I have absolutely no idea until we see how she comes out of it. I talked to the owners and we determined we’re going to analyze the race and then we’ll decide whether she should go in that direction or not.”
Jockey Chantal Sutherland (Inglorious, fourth): “She broke really good; Josie’s schooled her in the gate. I thought Josie did a great job. She felt good and everything. We came to the stretch and usually she has a huge punch and today we had no punch. It’s pretty hot today and could’ve been a whole lot of things, but I know what kind of filly she is. To be fourth is pretty good. She was exactly herself but you never know until your on them. I mean, from Josie’s point of view, she’s absolutely perfect.”
Race 9-Grade II, $400,000 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap
Four-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles on turf, 19th running
Jockey Edgar Prado (Smart Bid, winner): “I had a beautiful trip. She broke nice and I was in a good spot all the way around. When I called he was there for me. He fought real hard when he saw the other horse coming. I am very proud of this horse.
“I was very confident, especially with the long stretch. I was worried that I was going to lose ground. He hung in real well with both the distance and the ground.
“I am very thankful for the opportunity from Graham and Mr. Strawbridge. Hopefully we continue with the success.”
Jockey Gerard Melancon (Expansion, second): “When he decided to run, he just turned it on like that. Early on, I didn’t know what it was, whether he was not handling the track or what. But once he switched leads, he really turned it on.”
Jockey Kent Desormeaux (Moryba, third): “I thought I was home. To put up a run like that and get caught is kind of disheartening, but it’s good to know he’s got a run like that. He’s already proven to be a legitimate Grade I horse.”
Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Workin for Hops, fourth): “It was a great race. He ran his heart out. When that horse came up next to us, he was not letting him get by. He dug in, and he ran a great race. It was a heartbreaker to get beat like that. He might be a little better at a shorter distance so that was a lot of work for him and he really put out."
What were you thinking as you were going down the stretch there? “I thought, ‘Oh, they’re coming, they’re gonna get by me.’ But when that horse came up next to him and he dug in, I thought we might win this anyway because he was just coming back all heart.”
NOTE: Winning trainer Graham Motion also won Turfway Park’s Grade III Spiral Stakes for 3-year-olds with Animal Kingdom within minutes of the Muniz.
Race 10-Grade II, $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby
Three-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles, 98th running
Trainer Kelly Breen (Pants On Fire, winner): “I’m kind of shell-shocked a little bit right now. This is what you dream of, we got our ticket. You know it was like going to Disneyland, that sort of thing. We stamped our ticket, hopefully the horse comes out of the race in good order and we’ll be on to Churchill.
On giving Rosie Napravnik the mount. “It was a matter of trying to see who we could get and she made the call and it was a nice phone call to receive. I wasn’t there for the last workout and this horse here, I would say, maybe two month ago, he couldn’t hold a match up against Nacho Business. Nacho Business was one of our top horses, doing great, training great. And he went into the workout a week ago at Palm Meadows and I got three or four phone calls saying that ‘That other horse, man, he really looked great.’ And Joe (Bravo) even commented that while he was flying in here.
“They’re like teenagers. Somebody starting to put everything together and things go in the right direction and we’re fortunate enough to be in front at the wire.
“I said it all week, this horse is really blossoming. You know, sometimes you see it and sometimes you don’t, and sometimes you look back and say, ‘Hey, he was doing a little bit better.’ But we saw it. This horse, he was a little sick, got over it, shipped back and forth, you know three times here. This is his third time, he’s got frequent flyer miles, you know.
“I’m a private trainer and we have 33 horses in training right now. George runs a hedge fund out of Manhattan."
Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Pants On Fire, winner): “He had a lot of heart. They said he was best on the lead. And when the 5-horse went out in front of us, I said if he’s stuck outside, hopefully he’s still well off. But he ran with as much heart as a horse can run with down the lane. Mucho Macho Man came up next to us and he just dug in and he really finished with all heart.”
Trainer Steve Asmussen (Nehro, second): “I’m very pleased with his effort. You have to think about the Arkansas Derby but I’ll have to talk to the boss about that one.”
Jockey Michael Baze (Nehro, second): “I saved ground and everything worked out nice. It made it tougher to catch them but he made a real strong run. A little traffic trouble at the quarter-pole but he went on through no problem.”
Trainer Kathy Ritvo (Mucho Macho Man, third): “The horse blew his shoe. One of the gate guys came over and handed it to me. Apparently he stepped on it right out of the gate and ran the whole race without that shoe. I’ll find out which one it was when I get back to the barn. It is an excuse, but Pants On Fire ran a great race.”
Rajiv Maragh (Mucho Macho Man, third): “Just outfinished. He didn’t sustain the run that he looked like he was making on the quarter-pole. He settled easy early so I was expecting him to finish stronger than he did.
“I had a 110-percent chance to win turning for home but he just couldn’t sustain his run.”
Jockey Calvin Borel (Elite Alex, fourth): “The 10-hole kind of killed us. That left us with a lot to do. I thought we could get them turning for home, but they kept going and we just couldn’t keep up. He couldn’t make up ground.”
NOTE: Fair Grounds’ leading rider Rosie Napravnik (107 wins through today’s Race 12) became the first female jockey to win the Louisiana Derby.