Notes & Quotes From Indiana Derby, Indiana Oaks, Los Al Derby

Here is a smorgasbord look at some of Saturday’s most meaningful races:

Indiana Derby:

  1. Florent Geroux, who rode the winner Axelrod, as quoted by Jeremy Balan of “The Blood-Horse” (  “My horse broke sharp, but I was surprised there was a lot of speed and everybody went,” Geroux said of the Michael McCarthy trainee. “I was like … ‘Let’s go to the fence and try (to get) as much run as we can.’ From there, he was off the bridle during the whole race, and when horses in front started coming back to him, his heart started getting bigger and bigger. By the quarter pole, I didn’t know if I was going to get the horse on the lead, but the final jump—he just kept on going.”
  2. Michael McCarthy, trainer of the winner, as quoted by Balan: “When I saw they were going quick up front tonight, I was happy to save ground on the fence,” McCarthy said. “Then at the three-eighths pole, it didn’t look like anyone was going anywhere. … In the Affirmed, the pace was a little on the soft side, so he was able to lay a little closer. I wasn’t surprised he was that far back, but the way he got to those horses from the three-eighths pole to the wire surprised me.”

Indiana Oaks:

  1. Julien Leparoux, who rode the winner Talk Veuve to Me (as reported on — “I’ve been watching her races. She’s got that tactical speed. The 1 horse wanted to be on the lead, but she relaxed beautifully off of the 1. She’s push button. On the second turn, I just let her go on her own. I didn’t really ask her. She went to the lead and relaxed again and went on in the straight again. She’s a very nice filly. I think two turns will be good for her, even more distance will be OK for her. She hasn’t run a bad race yet. She always fights hard. I think she can improve from that. On teaming with good friend and trainer: “It’s great. And even the owner Stephen McKay is one of our friends from a long time ago. Team Valor is great too. It’s good teamwork, and it’s fun to win for them.”
  2. Rodolphe Brisset, trainer of winner Talk Veuve to Me (as reported on “She showed what I was expecting her to show. It was maybe a little quicker than what I was thinking on paper. But she took the lead pretty easy. You could see that she was looking around a lot, just went to the wire cruising. She’s very unlucky being born in one of the best years – how many good fillies do we have this year, between Monomoy Girl, Midnight Bisou and Red Ruby and I’m sure I’ve left out some. It’s a very, very strong year for three-year-old fillies. I don’t know where everybody wants to go. She may have to face them and turn the table on some to be in the top three. But we are what we are.” On heading to Saratoga on Monday: “Enjoy the weather and then we’ll see what’s next.
  3. Barry Irwin, president of Team Valor International, majority owner of the winner Talk Veuve to Me (as reported on “She had two real hard races, the Acorn, the Eight Belles. We wanted to find a spot we were confident she would win. Just so she wouldn’t lose another race and get seconditis. Rodolphe picked out this one, and it worked out great.” Looking forward to a rematch with Monomoy Girl? “Not really at this moment. Maybe later. She’s still lightly raced. We still don’t know what she wants to do yet. One thing that’s encouraging about her, when she breezes in the morning, she completes the work. When she goes into the next turn galloping out, she takes off again. Who knows? She might go a mile and an eighth, mile and a quarter.”
  4. Robby Albarado, jockey on runner-up Figarella’s Queen (as reported on “She ran huge. The winner might be one of the top three fillies in the country. To be second to her is not too bad.”

Los Alamitos Derby:

  1. Bob Baffert, trainer of the winner Once On Whiskey (as reported by Christine Oser at HorseRacingNation — “In the stretch I could tell Ax Man was starting to get tired,” Baffert said, “and I saw a horse coming and I said, ‘That’s me,’ so that was good….“He needed the whole stretch to get there,” Baffert said of Once On Whiskey. “I’m happy for the whole gang. I like what I saw from him today. Coming in I really thought Ax Man could do it, but on the turn, I could see them ganging up on him and he just didn’t respond. I have to give credit to Prat. I told him just to be patient with him.’’
  2. Flavien Prat, rider of the winner: “Bob told me to ride him patiently and he settled nicely,” Prat said of his ride. “He’s pretty much push button and because they were going slow up front, I asked him to pick up the pace a little sooner. He really gave me a strong finish and that long stretch helped.’’

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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