Notes & Quotes From “Show Downs” at Arlington, Belmont

(Diversidero wins the G3 Arlington Handicap and now points towards the Arlington Million / Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography & Arlington Park)

From the media teams at both Arlington Park and NYRA:

(Diversidero, winner of the Arlington Handicap / Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography & Arlington Park)

Arlington Park / G3 Arlington Handicap:

From Jevian Toledo, rider of the winner Diversidero:

“First off, thanks to the owner and Kelly for the opportunity to ride such a nice horse,” said Toledo. “He gave me everything he had. I think he needed the couple of races off the layoff. Kelly did a great job to get him ready for this race, and we got the job done.”

From Kelly Rubley, trainer of the winner:

“It has certainly been an experience, one I am grateful for the opportunity to have had,” said Rubley. “It’s very exciting, I can’t tell you how excited we all are. I think this horse is versatile. He can run a mile, and I was confident he could get this mile-and-three-sixteenths. Our options are open.”

From Jose Lezcano, rider of runner-up Revved Up:

“He ran a good race,” Lezcano said. “He broke well and we got the position we wanted. He’s a fighting horse. He was fighting with (Synchrony) the whole way but he didn’t see (Divisidero) go by outside.

From Joe Bravo, rider of favorite and third-place finisher Synchrony:

“Going out there I thought I was the best horse,” Bravo said. “I’m real proud of Synchrony today. He came back healthy. I take my hat off to the two horses that beat us. This was a good race for us.”

(Daddys Lil Darling wins the G3 Modesty / Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography & Arlington Park)

G3 Modesty Stakes:

From trainer Ken McPeek, who conditions the winner Daddys Lil Darling:

“I didn’t give (jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr.) any instructions,” said McPeek. “From the 13-hole it’s tricky and we’ve got complete confidence in Brian, whatever he decided. It was great that she showed early speed – she’s had some races where she kind of went too back and had a hard time getting through traffic, but I don’t know if it was the course or Brian’s hands or whatever, even the class of the race, but it’s a big deal to see her laying closer.”

From Brian Joseph Hernandez, rider of the winner:

“She was the class of the race,” said Hernandez. “The best thing to do with her today was just stay out of her way, let her find her rhythm, and that’s what she did. Kenny had her so prepared today that all I had to do was just kind of be a good passenger, and she’s a Grade I winner, she knows what she’s doing out there – I just let her do her thing.”

From Jose Lopez, rider of the runner-up Prado’s Sweet Ride:

“I thought that the way she was travelling and the way she was carrying me around the turn I thought we had it for a minute,” Lopez said.

From Joe Bravo, rider of third-place finisher Hallie’s Belle:

“I’m really proud of this girl,” Bravo said. “She was sitting there nice. Unfortunately, the 11 horse (Sully’s Dream) was pulled up and took us from being three lengths off the pace to eight lengths of the pace. My horse exploded really nicely. She finished better than anyone in the race.”

Belmont Park / G1 Belmont Derby

From Jonathan Thomas, trainer of the winner Catholic Boy and winner of his first Grade 1 Stakes:

“What a stretch drive. My hats off to Analyze It, he ran super. It was a hell of a horse race. He really has an awful lot of heart. I didn’t expect him to fight back this time. I thought we were going to finish a really good second, somehow he got it done. He’s always been a real generous training horse. You never know how they will respond in that scenario because we never put them in that situation in the mornings. Between his heart and Javier’s ride what can you say? We had no instructions before the race. We just wanted him to ride him by gut instinct and do what he thought was best.”

“It’s the pinnacle. It’s one of those dreams you don’t really think about until it happens. I’m happier for him because he’s a deserving Grade 1 winner. He deserves it. I’m like a proud parent.”

From Chad Brown, trainer of runner-up Analyze It:

“This horse that won earned it,” said Brown. “He came back and beat him [Analyze It], I don’t have any excuse. It sure seems that [Analyze It idles], but I don’t want to take anything away from the winner, because he still fought back and most horses wouldn’t. I thought he ran a great race, the winner, but so did our horse. He just wasn’t good enough.”

G1 Belmont Oaks:

From Ryan Moore, the rider of the winner Athena:

“There was no real plan, to be honest. She’s a very straightforward filly. She’s taken her racing very well. I rode her before the start of the year and all she’s done is improve tremendously. In her first out, I wasn’t sure what she could do. The second time I rode her, she really impressed me. This was the third time I’ve rode her and I thought she was very impressive.

“It was a nice even pace and when I asked her to move forward around the turn, the race was over very quickly. She couldn’t have done better.”

From T.J. Comerford, the traveling head lad for trainer Aidan O’Brien and the winning connections:

“I don’t think it was a surprise really because she traveled here well and [jockey] Donnacha [O’Brien] wasn’t hard on her when she ran last week at the Curragh. Six days later, a mile and a quarter on hard ground is probably her trip. She can probably go a bit farther as well but it’s great to get her going at a mile and a quarter and she can go a mile and a half in time. She’s won over a mile and a quarter and she does it impressively.

“She didn’t look like she was stopping. The pace started off quick but it got moderate. She was in a good enough position. Ryan knew he had enough horse under him to do what he wanted. He just had to the press the button on her, and whenever he wanted her to go, she went. Aidan was very happy. It’s grand to get a Grade 1.”

From Chad Brown, trainer of fourth-place finisher Significant Form:

“I thought she got a good trip in the pocket,” Brown said regarding Significant Form. “I don’t really have any excuse other than I think we found out today she probably doesn’t want to run that far. As evidenced by her not being able to hold on for second in the deep stretch, it was clear who the winner was going to be, it was a matter of who was going to finish second. Her being unable to do that was the most telling part about her distance limitations.”

G2 Suburban Stakes:

From Jose Ortiz, rider of the winner Diversify:

“My plan was to break and go. I broke good, I sent him, and he took me the whole way. He was traveling perfect. I just went from there and started moving and he responded very well. He went fast, and he gave me another gear at the quarter pole.”

From Richard Violette, trainer of the winner:

“We were meant to be aggressive and Irad told me when he realized it was Zanotti and War Story [chasing him], he kind of just stepped on the gas. He did it pretty comfortably. I think this is his best race ever. He beat some nice horses, withstood some serious pressure, fast fractions, and he obviously loves Belmont.

“We have five weeks to the Whitney off his lifetime best I think. There’s also the Woodward four weeks later in the meet. We’ll think about the fall as well. We would love to do the Whitney, but we’ll see how he comes back from this effort.”

Belmont Sprint:

From Jose Ortiz, rider of the winner Limousine Liberal:

“He wasn’t pulling me like he usually does, so I thought they were going too fast. They went 44 [seconds] and it paid off in the end. I didn’t expect Whitmore to be in front of me, so I decided to follow. I knew my horse was going to have something for the end. He decided to go the rail. I thought he was a little tired, so I went outside. But I’m glad I didn’t have to check hard and I’m [happy] I was able to win the race.”

From Ben Colebrook, trainer of the winner:

“I could see Jose had a ton of horse and I knew he was going to make his run. I didn’t want the wire to come too soon because he was coming with a big run. I’m just glad he proved he can win outside the state of Kentucky. I thought we were in the right place. I thought maybe we’d be ahead of Whitmore, maybe not so far back, but they went so fast.”

“Jose knew where to have him. It’s taken me so long to find the winner’s circle in New York I’m just happy for this. We’d have to think about the [Grade 1] Forego [August, 26] next but we were going to go to the Breeders’ Cup even if we had to pay our own way in.”

G3 Dwyer Stakes:

From Jason Servis, trainer of the winner Firenze Fire:

“That was great. I’ve been dying to cut him back, just dying. We thought he’d run good,” trainer Jason Servis said.

“Now we’re getting him where he needs to be, a mile, seven eighths, where he might even be a tad sharper,” he added. “I mean, it all worked out. We’re all real happy.”

From Irad Ortiz, Jr., the winning rider:

“I got a perfect trip,” Ortiz said. “We got a good post and he broke sharp. He was ready today, it was a big performance. Coming in I just wanted to ride my race. Let him settle at first and then let him finish. In preparation for the race, we worked with him to gallop out and finish strong. [The plan was] to relax early and finish strong and it worked out good.

“I expected him to run a big race but I didn’t think he would gallop out like that,” he added. “I’m so happy to see the way he did it.”

From Ryan Moore, the rider of third-place finisher Mendelssohn:

“He ran a nice race for his first run in two months,” said Mendelssohn jockey Ryan Moore, a nine-time Breeders’ Cup winner who traveled from Europe for the mount. “I expect him to come forward from this today. He was comfortable, he jumped well [from the gate] and he just felt like he’d improve off how he ran today.”



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

More From The Pressbox Staff