Notes & Quotes From Labor Day Stakes Events at Del Mar, Saratoga

(Bob Baffert wins the G1 Del Mar Futurity with Game Winner; not Roadster / Photo by Gene McLean)

From the Media Teams at NYRA and Del Mar:

Saratoga Race Course:

G2 Hopeful Stakes:

Gregory Sacco, trainer of the winner Mind Control:

“We had a lot of horse at the quarter pole,” Sacco said. “Johnny said he was actually waiting a little bit. He’s still a little green and learning. “It’s my first Grade 1 [win] so it’s real special. I’m the son of a trainer. My dad never had the opportunity to train these types of horses. It’s very meaningful. It’s a great feeling. I have my whole family here and I can’t be any happier.”

“Our intent was to let Nitrous go because the way he rated last time, we thought if we got him in position, Johnny could make a move on him when he thought it was the right time,” said Sacco. “He has gears. He ran a great race against [Grade 2 Saratoga Special winner] Call Paul and then at Monmouth, but then you have to do it on the big show.”

About the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile:

“I’ll have to discuss it with the [owners], but I would think so,” Sacco said. “I don’t think the distance will give him limitations. The way he’s trained and galloped out last race, he’s just a genuine horse. He has a ton of ability the main thing is that he’s so smart. He acts like an older horse and does everything right. For a young horse, it’s a big plus. He’ll go back tomorrow morning to Monmouth. We’ll savor this win and go from there.”

John Velazquez, rider of the winner:

“I told Gregory earlier I was going to try to come out running and get position early in the race,” Velazquez said. “The horse didn’t want to be on the lead and fortunately it worked out that way. He settled pretty easy along the backstretch and got settled to the turn. Once we reached the three-eighths pole and I asked him, he was full of run. I was real proud of the way he finished he came on and never relinquished.”

G2 Bernard Baruch:

Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of the winner Qurbaan:

“We were trying to run him in an allowance race that didn’t go for a while,” said McLaughlin. “We didn’t have many options but to go into the stakes. He’s a stakes horse, obviously. He’s won five races all around the world. I was worried right up until the wire, but we got thankfully we got there. I’m very happy with the photo; we’ve had a couple of close one’s this meet. After 24 and 47, I thought we had no chance, but he responded very well and ran great. We’re happy to have him in the barn.”

Del Mar Race Course:

G1 Del Mar Futurity:

Mario Gutierrez, rider of the winner Game Winner:

“He (trainer Bob Baffert) told me ‘You know how to ride good horses; go ahead and ride him like you can.’  He said he wanted me to give him a little help out of the gate, then he said he thought he’d be strong for the finish. He was so right. I’m so happy for this opportunity; I’m so happy this worked out this way.”

Drayden Van Dyke, rider of the runner-up Rowayton:

“That was the plan – to just go for it. He did and he ran good. He fought me on changing leads once more; he fought me on the right (lead).  But he’ll learn; he’ll get better.”

Mike Smith, rider of the third-place finisher Roadster:

“I don’t know what to say; I’m at a loss for words. I thought he’d run a whole lot better.”

Bob Baffert, trainer of the winner and third-place finisher:

 “Going down the backside that other horse (Rowayton) was way out there and sometimes if you get out there like that you can steal a race. I just hoped my guys knew they were in good spots. I knew they’d have to sprint home. I knew coming in that (Game Winner) was coming back a little quick, but he’s a big strong heavy horse and I knew he could handle it. I’d rather run him again than keep working him. I’m a little disappointed in (Roadster) but it was only his second outing and sometimes the second out when you break their maidens they can get a little flat on you.”

(On the “other Baffert” phenomena) “We’re an equal opportunity barn and sometimes I just throw them in there when they’re doing well and they even surprise me.”

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

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