(Charlatan winning the G1 Malibu Stakes / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)
From the Santa Anita Media Team:
MIKE SMITH, CHARLATAN, WINNER: “First of all my hat’s off to Bob and his whole crew to get this horse ready off an eight-month layoff. To run against these types of horses was a feat itself, but I always thought he was a special horse. I’ve had the opportunity to watch him, California is his home base, so I’ve seen a lot of him and always wanted a chance to ride him. When Bob told me I got the call, man I’ve been kind of on cloud nine ever since.
“He is extremely special.”
JUAN HERNANDEZ, EXPRESS TRAIN, SECOND: “I expected a lot of speed in the race and there was, it was really fast. He broke pretty well. He didn’t have too much speed at the start, but he was comfortable behind. When I took him outside, he was very comfortable and I had a really good position.
“Around the last turn I started working really hard on him and he responded well, but the winner never stopped. My horse ran well today and tried the best he could.”
FLAVIEN PRAT, COLLUSION ILLUSION, THIRD: “That was a great effort. He doesn’t like being on the rail. We settled on the back side and once we got clear, he had something left down the lane.
I was really pleased in this race following what happened at the Breeders Cup.”
BOB BAFFERT, CHARLATAN, WINNER: ” I told Mike, ‘you know I can only get him so ready, I didn’t want to overdo it with him, it is early in the year and all, so I’m counting on his class to get him there he’s probably gonna need this race. ‘You know but those really good ones like him, they just make my job a whole lot easier. You get them ready to a certain point and then he just took over himself, that was just pure pure brilliance that we witnessed today. They were rolling early, there was a really good horse he was chasing. With what this horse has been through I’m just happy for the whole team and everybody involved, to show he is a really special horse. Hopefully we will have a good year with him.
“This has been one of the better years I’ve ever had really, I actually won 17 and the one in Oaklawn, I can’t count that one yet. It was a roller coaster. We are so grateful the races opened up and we got to run these great horses. I have a great team behind me and great ownerships with wonderful people. They stuck by me with all the negative stuff, you need that support. Our job is to get results that’s what its all about and I’m grateful to have all these great horses and continue on. I’m still having fun. For Santa Anita it’s a shame that there wasn’t 30-40,000 people in the stands today, they are all next door in the mall, but its one of those things you know, we are here.”
NOTES: SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Hertrich, III, Frederick, Fielding, John D. and Golconda Stables