Notes & Quotes From Saturday’s Stakes Races & McLean’s Tout of 45-1 Shot Discreet Lover

(Mind Your Biscuits rolls to win in the G3 Lukas Classic / By Coady Photography & Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

(Discreet Lover wins the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

OK, have to tout our tout. On two shows that we published on Saturday, our publisher and top handicapper Gene McLean touted Discreet Lover in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.

In our regular Saturday Stakes Preview Show, hosted by the dapper and eloquent Dave Baker, McLean said that he was going with Discreet Lover and would box the exacta with both Thunder Snow.

A day earlier, in our weekly interview session with Ed DeRosa, the marketing director over at, we not only touted Discreet Lover but we challenged Ed to our normal “side bet.”

McLean took Discreet Lover and offered DeRosa anyone else in the field. Being a sporting chap, DeRosa avoided Diversify — the odds-on choice — and went with his top pick Mendelssohn.

As we know by now, Discreet Lover went off at odds of 45-1 and came home in front.


It is crow time here at the ole’ “Pressbox.”

Here is what they are saying about the major Stakes Events around the country after Saturday’s Stakes:

(Mind Your Biscuits rolls to easy win in the Lukas Classic / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

Churchill Downs:

G3 Lukas Classic:

Tyler Gaffalione, rider of the winner Mind Your Biscuits:

“This horse is so classy,” Gaffalione said. “I’m thankful for Chad for letting me ride. This horse was very impressive tonight and going into the Breeders’ Cup in great shape. We sat a perfect trip and when I asked him to run he responded right away and finished well.”

Chad Summers, trainer of the winner:

“I can breathe a little bit now,” Summers said. “This horse is so special to us and he proved tonight he can go the longer distance. We’ll get with all of the owners and see which race we’ll run in for the Breeders’ Cup. He’ll stay here at Churchill Downs and train up to the race.”

Jaime Osborne, trainer of runner-up Toast of New York:

“I’d say that’s not too shabby after not running for so long,” said Toast of New York’s trainer Jamie Osborne. “He was a bit rusty but that’s to be expected. I think it warrants us to stick around a little longer here in Kentucky. Hopefully he’s alright after the race and we will figure out our plan regarding the Breeders’ Cup.”

(Seeking the Soul just loves Churchill Downs & wins the Ack Ack on Saturday night / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

G3 Ack Ack Stakes:

Brian Hernandez, rider of the winner Seeking the Soul:

“I think the slower pace helped me today,” Hernandez said. “I was able to keep up close to the pace and the leaders didn’t get away from me.”

“This horse is a Grade I winner and he showed it tonight,” Hernandez said. “I have always been confident in him.”

Dallas Stewart, trainer of the winner:

“It looks like we have some decisions to make now,” Stewart said. “We’ll definitely look at the Breeders’ Cup but we’ll decide on the Dirt Mile or Classic. Mr. Fipke is simply a great owner. He’s a great person to work with and this night is absolutely awesome. We’re here with family and friends and we get to celebrate a great horse.”

Belmont Park:

G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup:

Manny Franco, rider of the winner Discreet Lover:

“This horse always gives me all he has,” said Franco. “I knew I had a lot of horse under me. I was hoping they would come back to me and they did. I just need to get there one day and today was the day. He always hits the board.”

Uriah St. Lewis, trainer of the winner:

“It’s the first Grade 1 for the horse and myself,” said St. Lewis. “He did it all. All I want to do is go cash my ticket. He can come flying. The wire came right when we wanted it to come. It was great. But I want to go back and spend some time with him. Let’s see how he comes out of it, and then we’ll go from there. One step at a time. But everything is paid for [for the Breeders’ Cup], so we don’t have to worry.”

Irad Ortiz, Jr., rider of Diversify:

“The track was fast and I had to go harder than usual because Mendelssohn was very quick out of there, and I needed to make the lead,” said Ortiz. “I had to use a lot to make the lead. We just went a little fast.”

G1 Joe Hirsch:

Bill Mott, trainer of the winner Channel Maker:

“A horse couldn’t be doing better than he’s been doing. I don’t know if he can stay this good for another four or five weeks, but he’s just gotten better and better since we had those two runs at Saratoga,” said Mott, who notched his third Joe Hirsch Turf Classic win and first since Shakespeare in 2005. “He’s been hard to hold on the ground. Put it this way, he needed to run. I’m glad we didn’t have to wait another four or five weeks to run.

“He’s got a little different running style [than last year],” he added. “Even the last two or three times, he’s always broke and been back; he’s never gotten away cleanly enough to be up on the lead. But, the last couple times, he’s been breaking better.”

Jose Ortiz, rider of the winner:

“He was relaxed the whole way around. He had been running well the last three races,” said Ortiz, who won the Turf Classic for the second time in three years after piloting Ectot in 2016. “I rode him here [in the Grade 1 Manhattan on June 9], and he was in a bunch of trouble and only got beat one length.

“At the three-eighths pole, he was still pricking his ears, waiting for somebody to come. When we left the 5 horse [Teodoro], he was waiting for somebody to come and no one came. When I asked him to go, he responded beautifully.”

Chad Brown, trainer of Robert Bruce:

“I’m disappointed,” trainer Chad Brown said. “There was no pace in the race and my horse broke so well and then he ended up behind. I’m not sure why. The winner ran really good, but the pace was so slow and after breaking so good, I don’t understand why he was so far back.”

G1 Vosburgh Stakes:

Luis Carvajal, Jr., trainer of the winner Imperial Hint:

“We wanted to try to get an easy race before the Breeders’ Cup as a prep, because you don’t really want to go into that race having to run really hard and I was happy the way the field for this race came out,” said Carvajal. “You always worry, especially when you’re 1-5, 1-9, but the way he did it was good. I was a little worried at the end, hoping that Javier [Castellano] didn’t hold him back too much, but the track is fast, and I couldn’t ask for anything else from this little horse he was great.

“We talked about how the track was playing before the race,” said Carvajal. “I thought the 7 horse [Still Krz] was the one who was going to show a lot of speed, but he didn’t come out of there, so we had no choice but to go ahead and go. You don’t want to choke him too much to keep him behind horses so him on the lead was the way it worked out.”

Javier Castellano, rider of the winner:

“He’s a very nice horse,” Castellano said. “You can do whatever you think; you can go to the lead, or come off the pace a little bit. Today, I felt he was the fastest horse. I tried to dictate the pace and control the race. He’s a special horse. We were looking for a little workout and looking for the big picture, the Breeders’ Cup. I just enjoyed the ride.”

G3 Pilgrim Stakes:

Manny Franco, rider of the winner Forty Under:

“I expected to be closer to the pace, but the horse broke a step slow, so I used plan B, stay inside, save some ground and wait for the moment,” said Franco.

“He’s a different horse on turf. He loves it. (After his debut race), I told the trainer, put him on the grass. That’s what we did and he won at Saratoga.”

Jeremiah Englehart, trainer of the winner:

“After his maiden race, he took the right steps forward,” said winning trainer Jeremiah Englehart. “I thought Manny [Franco] did a great job taking him a little bit off the hot pace and the horse closed and did well.”

“One advantage he has even on the softer turf, he’s not a real big thick horse. He’s slender, good size, but still pretty sleek, not a big horse. He’s a nice horse. It was nice because in a maiden race, it’s always a pretty big advantage sometimes to be in the clear. Even on the turf, you want to be in that first tier [because] you don’t know how they’re going to handle everything in the back. We were going to be forwardly placed. We had the inside from where we were [but] you want to be out and you don’t want to be shuffled back. He backed him off the horse and Manny made the right adjustments to win the race.”

(Accelerate wins the G1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita on Saturday / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)

Santa Anita Race Track:

G1 Awesome Again Stakes:

John Sadler, trainer of the winner Accelerate:

“It’s a good feeling that we might go into the Classic the favorite because I like being the favorite,” winning trainer John Sadler said. “He’s a good horse, doing great and probably the best horse in the country now, clearly. We’ll be ready.”

Bob Baffert, trainer of runner-up West Coast:

“He’s got a chance to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic with this race under his belt,” Baffert said. “He made that horse run today. We got beat by a really good horse. This race will really set him up well for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”

JOEL ROSARIO, ACCELERATE, WINNER: “He left the gate slow, but he recovered nicely. John (Sadler) told me he is a little slow to get going, so I just made sure we got ourselves in the game right away. I just wanted to get position and my horse was going comfortably. He loves to run. He was waiting on the turn and then he took off. He’s a really special horse and I’m thankful John gave me the opportunity to ride him the last two times.”

MIKE SMITH, WEST COAST, SECOND: “He really ran a huge race and had an incredible run. I couldn’t ask for more out of him. He really needed that push and we forced him to move forward a little more but I think that he did well and it was good for him. He should move forward and I think forcing him a little more really helped him and it was just what he needed. Overall he did good and really gave us a great run.”

Rodeo Drive Stakes:

FLAVIAN PRAT, VASILIKA, WINNER: “We were going a little slower than I thought. She is super-easy to handle. I knew once she switched leads, we were going to catch Cambodia. I saw Rosario’s horse (Paved), but we kept on going. This horse keeps getting better and better. She doesn’t quit and she’s got a ton of foot.”

 JOEL ROSARIO, PAVED, SECOND: “It looked like I was going to go by that horse, but the horse in front just kept fighting. My filly ran well. It was a great effort.”

DRAYDEN VAN DYKE, CAMBODIA, THIRD: “She ran a really, really good race. I just wish I could have been able to get her to relax a little better today. She ran a really good race, but she would’ve finished up better.”

JERRY HOLLENDORFER, VASILIKA, WINNER: “Sometimes everything comes down to luck. We were looking for a horse to put in the barn and ended up getting her and we got the luck of it. We were just looking for a horse that can win a race. I think there are no secrets to this, sometimes horses get good, they go to a different spot and get better for one reason or another. It doesn’t mean that we did a better job; it’s just she likes it better where she is right now. We’ll probably talk about [heading to the Breeders’ Cup]; we’re not nominated but I think it’s feasible to nominate her. We’ll have to do our homework and see if we’re going to do that or not.”

 Chandelier Stakes:

FLAVIEN PRAT, BELLAFINA, WINNER: “That was great. Simon and all of his team, they did a great job with her. Last time out, she was pretty aggressive. They took off the blinkers and did some work in the mornings and she ran much better today than at Del Mar (in the Del Mar Debutante Sept. 1.) She was much better in the race today; she relaxed and did everything right.”

JOEL ROSARIO, VIBRANCE, SECOND: “She broke really well and wanted the lead but then started looking around. She ran really well but the winner was much the best.”

 SIMON CALLAGHAN, BELLAFINA, WINNER: “I think the big key today was to see her relax, and going two turns that was very important. We took the blinkers off – it was a decision I thought would benefit her. She was so relaxed today. The race set up about how we hoped, she relaxed and was breathing throughout, and then kicked at the end. I think that’s about all you could ever hope for.

“When she had the blinkers on, she was a little more tense . . . She switched leads and did everything right, and she dominated today.

“She’s answered every question. We’ve jumped from five-eighths to three-quarters to seven-eighths and now to a mile and a sixteenth. That’s what the good ones do – they’ve got the speed but they can also get the extra distance.”

American Pharoah Stakes:

JOEL ROSARIO, GAME WINNER, WINNER: “He broke well out of there. I just chirped at him a little bit, put him on the outside, and he responded to that really well.

“I wasn’t trying to be too far back and that worked out.

“He’s a very good horse. He kinda just waits for other horses, he’s a one run horse. He stays galloping and kinda waited for some company. He’s an easy horse to ride, I was just a passenger today.”

FLAVIEN PRAT, GUNMETAL GRAY, SECOND: “It was a good run. We had a good trip and he made a nice run down the lane. The winner was just better than us today.”

BOB BAFFERT, GAME WINNER, WINNER: “I can’t take credit for this horse. The Wests (owners Gary and Mary) and their team found this horse and trusted me with him. Clients put their trust in me. I just want to get there (Breeder’s Cup) with a nice healthy horse. This horse tipped us off this summer that he was going to be a good one. He is strong and he still looks a little heavy. It’s exciting to have this horse. These horses sort themselves out. Circumstances dictate who gets there. I had one bullet here and I just want to keep him healthy; I don’t plan to do too much with him before the Breeders Cup. The good ones get there. I was very happy to win the first American Pharoah. Pretty cool and nice of Santa Anita to name a race after him. We had the same groom on this horse as American Pharoah (Eduardo Luna).”

JERRY HOLLENDORFER, GUNMETAL GRAY, SECOND: “No excuse for running second. I don’t know yet whether we’ll go to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup.”

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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