Home of the Louisiana Derby

Louisiana Derby Week Quotes (Monday and Tuesday)

From Monday morning’s Louisiana Derby Post Position Draw:

Trainer Neil Pessin (Mister Marti Gras): “I feel pretty good about him, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. He’s probably the only horse that came up the rail (on the turf course) that day or last week and most of the meet. He's a little better on the dirt than the turf I think. He’s doing really well.”

Trainer Tom Amoss (Ron the Greek): “We would’ve loved to have drawn as far inside as possible in the Louisiana Derby. Ron the Greek doesn’t have any real speed early so the idea of being able to break and ease right down to the rail would be great. I feel like I’m on an episode of Deal or No Deal and an inside post wins. I was like, ‘OK, I'll pick Six’ or, ‘OK, I’ll pick Seven.’

“Anyhow, so we ended up getting a good post. Six is fine. James (Graham, jockey) knows what to do. It’s a long run to the first turn at one and one-eighth here so I’m sure we can get a good position as far as that goes.

“You know, this race has some different variables from the Risen Star and by variables I mean horses coming into it that did not run their race in the Risen Star. So we can get a lot more speed in there. I look at Lukas’s horse, Wow Wow Wow, and Dutrow’s horse, A Little Warm, and, of course, Gary Scherer’s Backtrack, and all of those three horses are going to add to the speed of this race. It’s not going to only help me it’s going to help other closers like Steve Margolis’s horse (Stay Put). I think it will be a fair race and that’s what we want.
“I've been here before and I’ve been favored in it (with Fly Cry in 1994). I’ve never won it and I would love to do it this year.”
Trainer Mark Frostad (Hotep): “He drew the outside post in the Risen Star and the one-hole in this race. I don’t know what to make of it but certainly we weren’t pleased with his race in the Risen Star. We basically threw him into it and it was a funny time to run a race and hopefully he will show a lot better this time around.
“His full brother (Eye of the Leopard) got the distance last year in the Queen’s Plate and I think he will get the distance. I don’t think that will be a problem.”

“Our (Sam-Son Farms) good horses have always wintered here. It’s a good track for them to get experience and to get ready. Hotep has been slow to come around but he’s got talent.”

“Basically you just throw the race (the Risen Star) out the window. They crawled around there and the first four horses never changed position.”

Trainer Steve Margolis (Stay Put): “He has a lot to overcome with the slow pace and a he’s training really well since the race. We are very excited about how he is coming into it. With a little more distance we are hopeful that we can run a big race.
“It is a competitive race. It’s all the top connections and, of course, Todd Pletcher is coming off of a win, Bill Mott is in there. It’s a competitive race but I think having two races over the track and having more distance in our corner hopefully we can have a good showing.”

--Interviews by Gary McMillen and Jessica Pacheco

From Tuesday morning in the stable area:

Jill Perry, assistant to trainer Bret Calhoun (Jody Slew, Fair Grounds Oaks): “She (Jody Slew, injured in her stall about a week ago) seems to be better today than yesterday. We’ll just continue to take it day-by-day this week and see what happens.” (concerning Jody Slew’s participation in Friday’s Fair Grounds Oaks)

Cincy Dollase, mother of trainer Craig Dollase (Awesome Gem, New Orleans Handicap): “(Awesome Gem) will arrive (from California) Thursday and Craig gets here Friday morning. Aimee (Dollase’s daughter and assistant trainer) is really looking forward to this. She got to saddle Zardana when that horse came to our barn (to defeat Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies) and she’s really hoping to have a thrill like that again.”

Trainer Neil Pessin (Mister Marti Gras, Louisiana Derby, and Giant Oak, New Orleans Handicap): “Giant Oak (coming off the track at the time) is training just as good as I could possibly want right now. Thank God he’s got the pony to take him back to the barn instead of me (on foot).

“As for Mister Marti Gras, I think we’ll probably stay in there (the Louisiana Derby) with him. I want to run, and the owners want to come down here.

“I’m not in it to get a piece of it. We’re not in it to run second or third. If I didn’t think he could win I wouldn’t have entered.”

Owner-Trainer Tom McCarthy (General Quarters, New Orleans Handicap), who rescued a Tuesday gallop by his Blue Grass winner by hustling up substitute exercise rider Ramiro Ramirez to ride when the scheduled gallop boy did not show up: “I’ve known this boy (Ramiro) for years in Louisville. He’s a very good gallop boy and I was lucky to get him at the last minute. He fits this horse perfectly, and he did everything I wanted this morning. I’m very pleased with the way he went today. It was perfect.”

How about drawing the outside (10) post? “Isn’t that something? First you get the rail two straight times (when General Quarters finished second in the Louisiana Handicap and in the Mineshaft Handicap) and then you get the extreme outside (in the New Orleans Handicap). Obviously, I don’t like it, but there’s not much I can do about it. That’s horseracing.”

Gareth Harris, assistant to trainer Patrick Biancone (Feels All Right, Muniz Memorial Handicap): “The horse traveled well, nice and relaxed. He’s doing really well. He had that one run at Gulfstream Park (a third in the Grade II Mac Diarmada) and hopefully he can build on that and do a little better here. That was just a little warm-up for this race so hopefully he can get the job done on the weekend. I think we have a real good chance.”

Tim Poole, assistant to trainer Nick Zito (Fly Down, Louisiana Derby): “He seems to have shipped fine. He came off the van good. Juan said he had an uneventful flight so I was glad to hear that. The weather was good so that makes for a smooth flight.

“He’s definitely built to go a distance. He’s got a nice, big stride on him. He’s a good-sized horse with a big stride and we’re very fortunate to have a horse like this. He’s performed up to expectation. We thought he was a nice colt and we’re just thankful he’s proved us right. Hopefully he’ll continue to prove us right.”

About his most recent work, a bullet half-mile in :48 1/5 at Palm Meadows on Saturday: “The thing about him is he did it by himself and we weren’t really looking to ‘squeeze the lemon,’ as Horatio Luro used to say. He does everything so effortlessly and that’s what’s so good about him.”

Matt Koch, assistant to Tony Dutrow (A Little Warm, Louisiana Derby, and Mambo Fever, Fair Grounds Oaks): “Everybody traveled well. Shipped good. No issues.”

How has A Little Warm been training? “He’s been doing very well. He’s been training great. We’re expecting a good run out of him. He tries every time and he’s getting better every time. Personally, I think that he will enjoy the long distances.”

Neil Howard, who trained 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, the sire of two top Louisiana Derby contenders in Discreetly Mine and Fly Down: “Mr. Farish (Mineshaft co-owner Will Farish) always thought it would take a while for him to catch on at stud, but he’s turned out to be a very nice stallion. He was a big horse with a lot of bone. A big, wide-bodied horse. Everything blended in perfect on him.”

--Interviews by Jim Mulvihill and Graham Ross