(Eight Rings after winning the American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)
From the Santa Anita Media Team:
JOHN VELAZQUEZ, EIGHT RINGS, WINNER: “He’s still not 100 percent confident in what he needs to do. Obviously he’s very talented, but he needs to put it together and go on. He still ran a good race, but you can see he has some room to improve. If he can put his mind to running, he’ll be a dangerous horse.”
(On going to the lead): “I wanted to put him into the race, and that way he could get his mind on running. I was pretty comfortable with the way he was moving in the backstretch. But he kept kind of wandering, so I felt like I had to keep reminding him to focus. It’s only his second start, so he’s still learning basically.”
TIAGO PEREIRA, AMERICAN THEOREM, SECOND: “I hoped to win, obviously, but I think it was a great race. I followed a horse that was great as well. I am happy, second place is good, and I continue confident for the next race. I think I have a great horse. It will win many big races.”
BOB BAFFERT, EIGHT RINGS, WINNER: “The horse was training really well. I told Johnny V. to ride him with confidence.I thought he might be in front. Johnny said let’s get him away from there, and he’s figured out this track. He gigged him a little bit, but he said, ‘Wow, he’s really fast.’ He just got out there really quick and I was actually just watching his ears the whole way. Johnny said he’ll be going good, then he’ll start looking around and lagging, and all the way down the stretch he was still looking around.
“But it was a good race for him, coming off that last disastrous race. I’m just so fortunate that Drayden (Van Dyke) didn’t get hurt worse. I’ve got to thank my entire team. Everybody’s been on him; even Joe Talamo’s worked him for me. When you have a good one like this, you want him to really perform well.
“I’m happy for George Papaprodromou that his American Pharoah (ridgling) ran second. My heart is still with American Pharoah so I’m glad to see his babies are doing well. I’m blessed and fortunate to get these kinds of horses.”
TOM RYAN (SF RACING), EIGHT RINGS, WINNER: “I guess I had more of a hand in putting the team together to select a colt. The colt was really selected by Bob Baffert, Henry Field, the Frankie brothers, a lot of great people involved in the syndication. We are big supporters of syndication and here are the results.
“Baffert calls our syndication the Avengers. Bob gives you confidence; this morning he said we are ready. It’s an exciting month ahead of us more than any of us ever dreamed of.”
NOTES: The winning owners are SF Racing, LLC; Starlight Racing or Madaket Stables, LLC, Frederick Hertrich III, John D. Fielding and Golconda Stables.