Notes & Quotes From Pimlico’s Saturday Stakes Races: Catholic Boy, Lexitonian, Mitchell Road, Wild About Star, Ickymasho, New York Central, English Bee, King for a Day

From the Pimlico Media Team:

$250,000 Maker’s Mark Dixie (G2) Quotes

Jonathan Thomas (Winning trainer, Catholic Boy): “I was thinking [in the stretch] he might need a better trainer. No, but he’s just such a gifted horse. I would have been happy coming here and running a good second or third and galloping out well. But he has it in him to win. It was great to see.”

“We thought this race was a good launch pad for the bigger races going into the remainder of the year. Sometimes Turf is a little easier on them coming back and that was the plan we utilized. I think the Suburban at Belmont might be a race now under strong consideration.”

“[Jockey] Javier [Castellano] – “Javier – it’s a rare game when you get to see a Hall of Famer hone their trade. He’s a rare rider and I thought he rode him beautifully.”

Javier Castellano (Winning jockey, Catholic Boy): “He was great. He’s a super horse. You can do whatever you want. He can be on the pace, he can come from behind. I like the way he did it. Coming off a layoff since the Breeders’ Cup, that’s a long time to put in a good race like he did today. It was a great performance. We’ve been working together with [trainer] Jonathan [Thomas], and he did an excellent job with the horse to bring him to perform the way he did. He can go any distance – a mile and a sixteenth, a mile and a quarter. On the dirt or turf. He’s a super horse. We don’t see to many horses like that. Grade 1 on the turf and the dirt.”

Brian Lynch (Trainer, Admission Office, 2nd): “I think if he gets a good trip today, he wins. He didn’t have the best of trips. I thought he got sort of pinched off coming out of the gate and took the worst of it out the back door. Every time he tried to move forward, a horse backed up in front of him or he got boxed in. Fortunately he got some clean racing room late and closed gamely to be a good second to Catholic Boy, which you should never be disgraced about.”

Joel Rosario (Jockey, Admission Office, 2nd): “Right out of the gate we kind of got squeezed a little bit and I kind of lost my spot, but he came running after at the end with a nice run up the inside. He got beat by a good horse. I had to just kind of wait and when he had room he really put in a nice run and finished up, but the other horse already had the jump on us. He ran great.”

$200,000 Chick Lang (G3) Quotes

Jack Sisterson (Winning trainer, Lexitonian): “I didn’t have to tell [jockey Jose Ortiz] really anything. I said just break and if he relaxes, just sit him behind the pace. He won it for us.”

“He came back fine after that race at Churchill. I could be wrong, but he seems like a horse where the more you work, the more he could go over the top. So I figured I might as well run him instead of work him. Someone asked me this morning, ‘What do you think of your horse today?’ and I said, ‘In my opinion he ran a much better race [at Churchill] than it looked on paper.’ I know he ran an 80-something Beyer but [jockey] Joel [Rosario], who rode him at Churchill told me that he used him a little bit early and that if he were to ride him back, he’d take him back. It looked like he was going backwards on us at the quarter pole but then he started to finish up well – and it was a tough allowance as well.”

Jose Ortiz (Winning jockey, Lexitonian): “He broke on top. I could have gone to the lead if I’d wanted to, but I figured there was going to be a lot of speed in the first half. So [trainer] Jack [Sisterson] told me if I could relax him and sit him back ‘I would be the man.’ And that’s what I tried to do. He relaxed really well, because the pace was really fast. When I asked him to go, he was there for me the whole time. He didn’t switch leads in the stretch, but he was digging in. He was trying, and that’s all that matters.”

$150,000 Stella Artois Gallorette (G3) Stakes Quotes

Riley Mott (Assistant to winning trainer Bill Mott, Mitchell Road): “She’s developed with age into a very nice filly. She showed talent from Day 1. She’s never been out of the exacta and she’s developed into a very nice filly. She got a little bit sick after her race at the Fair Grounds, and needed a little time to recuperate, which is why you’re only seeing her now at Pimlico. She always trains very forwardly, very willingly and she surely ran well today. There’s a big race at Belmont going one turn on Belmont Day [Longines Just a Game (G1)] which I would say would suit her style, but obviously we have to see how she comes out of this and talk to the ownership. We’ll enjoy this; she gave her little brother [Country House] a big update there.”

Joel Rosario (Winning jockey, Mitchell Road): “She broke away in the lead and was just looking around, enjoying what she was doing. She is a good-moving filly, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to ride her. She was comfortable. [In the stretch], I just wanted to ride her just in case some other horse might come up on her.”

$100,000 The Very One Stakes Quotes

Jose Camejo (Winning trainer, Wild About Star): “[Owner Evelyn Benoit] decided to send her north because she’s a Louisiana bred and we decided to give her a shot in this race. She owns the stallion [Star Guitar] and she wants to promote the stallion all over the place. And that’s why she decided to give her to me and we decided to run today. She worked a couple times and the last work I knew she was sharp and that’s why we decided to run and we got it done.”

“When she broke out of the gate, when she broke second I thought ‘this is over’. She was really good, she was feeling really good; she was ready for this race.”

Evelyn Benoit (Winning owner/breeder, Wild About Star): “I am wild about Star. It took me about 40 years to get a stallion. Star Guitar is the Louisiana stallion of the year, and I own the mare and we have a lot of babies.  This is what I’ve been trying to do, not only promote Louisiana racing but horse racing for everyone, to show that Louisiana and women and women in my position can do this. It was very difficult. I never had a horse super enough to be a stallion. Gosh, it’s just a dream. To win an open stakes here in this beautiful state of Maryland, it means everything to me. I’m so thrilled, couldn’t be any happier if I won the Preakness. You have no idea, this is like the biggest dream in my life come true.

“It was time to step out and see what we have against other people. She’s out of his first crop. I’ve been wanting to have this opportunity in front of a big crowd to show that in Louisiana we can breed nice horses.”

Daniel Centeno (Winning jockey, Wild About Star): “The plan was to try to come off the pace. We thought there would be a little more pace. [The instructions were to] try to break sharp, get good position and make one run. But she broke really good and was really comfortable right close to the lead. Turning for home, I looked back and I had plenty of horse and she responded really well.

“I’ve known [trainer] Jose [Camejo] for a long time. We rode together. He’s a good guy, good trainer. He said he really likes the filly, that she’s honest and always tries. He said, ‘Don’t worry that she’s a Louisiana-bred.’ And she did it today.”

Searching Stakes Quotes:

Triton Stable’s Joe Miller (Winning owner, Ickymasho): “After she won the Bewitched [April 26 at Keeneland], we were planning on waiting and running her at Woodbine. She was doing so well, though; she was acting like she wanted to run. Roger Attfield is a big believer in taking advantage of that. It was his call to run her here, and it was the right one.  If all goes well, we’ll look next to the Dance Smartly (G2) at Woodbine {June 29).”

Jose Ortiz (Winning jockey, Ickymasho): “She was the favorite, and she can handle the distance, which is a big battle in these long races. And this horse can handle it. I rode her with a lot of confidence. She relaxed well in the lead and when I asked her to run, she responded well. It was very easy. The whole way around was very comfortable.”

$150,000 ClearSpan Maryland Sprint (G3) Quotes

WinStar Farm’s Elliott Walden (Co-owner, New York Central): “He had a little bit of an issue after the Pat Day Mile behind, so we turned him out and were real patient with him and it’s paid off. He’s come back great and Steve felt like this was a perfect spot for him. He did a great job. I think he’s a one-turn horse. He ran very well in the Pat Day Mile to be second at a mile around one turn. The way he was able to just sit behind the pace and then kick like he did, they ran fast, so it was a big race.”

(Met Mile? ) “Probably not coming back in three weeks after running hard like this. But maybe something in Saratoga, maybe those Grade 1s up there would be something to shoot for.”

Ricardo Santana Jr. (Winning jockey, New York Central): “We got a clean break. That’s what we were worried about, because sometimes he doesn’t break. He broke pretty good today, and I just had patience that the rail would open. I know my horse. He’s a fighter and he’ll go through. As soon as I asked him, he went on through. I had plenty of horse at the three-eighths [pole]. I just wanted to have plenty of patience to make the right move. I didn’t want to move too early. This is a long stretch. I just had to have a little patience, and thanks God we took the win.”

$100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes Quotes

Graham Motion (Winning trainer, English Bee): “I think he was really unlucky in his last race at Tampa. He kind of got stopped coming off the turn right when he went to make his move. We all decided to wait for this race. He’s a real pro. He hasn’t done anything wrong. Glad to start off with a win. I haven’t looked much beyond this race but I think distance won’t be a problem.”

Jose Ortiz (Winning jockey, English Bee): “He broke really well. He was up front in the race. For a 3-year-old lightly raced in the game he’s very professional. He put me into a great spot and when I asked him to go, to push the nine at the 3/8ths-pole and then he ran very well. He’s certainly moving forward. He’s a big, strong colt.”

$100,000 Sir Barton Stakes Quotes

Todd Pletcher (Winning trainer, King for a Day): “He’s a horse we’ve always had very high hopes for. He got a little behind schedule to make any of the Triple Crown races, but the owners are very patient, just wanted to give him every chance to meet his expectations. So we gave him a bit of a break this winter. He’s come back, he’s trained well. We were actually looking at an allowance race. It didn’t go. So this turned out to be a good spot.

“He always looked like he was in a comfortable rhythm. That was the main thing. We didn’t care if we were on the lead, or where we were laying as much as just getting in a comfortable rhythm. I mean, I think the track’s quick. But 1:41 and 2 is very respectable time, regardless.”

John Velazquez (Winning jockey, King for a Day): “The horse right next to me broke awkwardly and actually kind of broke into my horse’s hind end. But once we got into the first turn, I was comfortable with where I was and from there it was pretty easy. I knew it was going to be close, I didn’t know he would be on the lead because I expected the horse next to me to be on the lead. But I wanted to make sure I got into position going into the first turn to where he was comfortable and that’s where he ended up.”

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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