(Pennsylvania Derby Hat / Photo Courtesy of Parx)
From the Parx Media Team:
Winning co-owner John Fanelli:
“This is my home track. They asked us (to run), but we wanted to. The reason we didn’t know was he was laying down in his stall and he wasn’t feeling himself and we were going to push him but we said, ‘the worst case scenario would be we don’t come and it cost us a couple thousand dollars.’ And, if he feels good in the next couple of days, we will bring him up, and that is exactly what happened. He just got better and better.” “I was screaming so loud I lost my voice. Biggest race ever.”
Getting Irad Ortiz Jr.: “He started his career here. I thought he fit the horse really well. I told him he would wear my silks in a big race.”
Winning trainer Joseph Saffie, Jr.:
“I’ve got to retire now! I feel blessed. I’m at a loss for words. John (Fanelli, co-owner), he made a gutsy call. A lot of the credit goes to him. You’ve got to take chances in life. If you’re going to get anywhere you’ve got to take chances.”
“We’ve got the horse going the right way. A lot of people think we improved the horse a lot. We got him at the right time. The guy before (Paul Kopaj), he actually improved him a lot, too, but we just got him at the right time. It’s unfortunate for him, but a blessing for us. We’re just thankful.”
“John made the gutsy call to come here. It was a crazy call. Maximum Security scratched, and I was taking a nap that day. I woke up to all these crazy messages so I thought something happened at the barn when I saw all these messages. When I started reading them I realized. I still don’t believe it. I would’ve walked away happy with a third or fourth. It’s amazing.”
“It’s kind of weird. When we work him in the morning he has a really good turn foot. Very few horses can finish the last quarter in 22 and change when they’re working. He does this weird thing (where) he gets there and he never finishes it off. Today, he kind of got there and it was happening in slow motion.”
“People give racing a bad rap, but this is the greatest game. The only thing I can describe to this feeling is my kids. When I see my kids smile, that’s the only thing that compares in life to these horses. That’s how good racing is. These horses get so much care. The people work so hard. People who have bad things to say about racing have to come see. A lot of effort goes into it. They get treated better than most humans.
“Improbable broke slow, and they were going slow up front and I know he has a good turn of foot but I was just waiting for the race to unfold. At the three-eighths pole I got excited because he looked like he was going to win, but then I thought maybe he was not finishing it off. Then I was looking at the TV, then live and I had to look twice to make sure he won. All credit to our team. We have really good workers, and I expect a lot from them I try to hire the best. These horses are like kids. We need to give them the best.”
Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.:
“It was great. I got a perfect trip to be honest. He broke, put me in a good position. I saw the favorite didn’t break and I didn’t panic. I just said, ‘he’s going to come from somewhere. He’s just not forwardly placed in front of me.’ He got through inside of me and from there I just tried to follow him. Then on the backside my horse jumped on the bridle. When I put my hands down he jumped on the bridle and I said, ‘whoa, wait a little longer.’ I wanted to wait a little longer and not get inside of Improbable so I just wait, wait, wait and at the half mile I made my way outside of him. He was coming little by little but when he turned for home and he switched leads then he took off. He ran hard. When I turned for home and I opened the reins and he started taking off I said, ‘I’m going to get there.’ ”
Trainer Bret Calhoun (Mr. Money, second):
“Obviously disappointing and not the way we drew it up. No excuses, just got outrun. Kind of surprised to be outrun by a horse we beat pretty handily a couple times. It was his day today and I guess it wasn’t ours. I didn’t see any excuses. The last thing I told Gabe was the ‘2 horse was supposed to be on the lead,’ but he doesn’t get away from there sometimes so be careful. Like I said, that wasn’t the place we wanted to be necessarily. We were going plenty slow enough and pretty relaxing. No excuses.
“I expected when they turned for home for him to open up. He ran hard to the wire but never opened up like he had in his other races.
“Very disappointing obviously. We won four in a row and it’s hard to win four in a row. We were hoping today would be the fifth for a million dollars in a Grade 1 but it wasn’t meant to be. We’ll regroup. I have no idea where to go from here but we’ll figure it out. I don’t know that we’d go to California or not for the Breeders’ Cup. I’m not sure.”
Trainer Mark Casse (War of Will, third):
“I didn’t see any excuses. I thought he ran pretty well, he never gave up. That was my concern after the last couple. I was proud of him today. It’s crazy, you didn’t think they were running very fast but the winner came running. I will talk to the boss (owner Gary Barber) and see what he wants to do. We had a great trip. To me, what was surprising, the pace was not fast and that horse came from out of it.”
Jockey Tyler Gaffalione (War of Will, third):
“I had a perfect trip, got to the position that I wanted to be in. We relaxed nicely down the backside. When I asked him for run and he went and challenged Mr. Money in front, we just couldn’t hold off (Math Wizard) on the outside. He got a little bit tired late but it was a good effort from him.”
Trainer Bob Baffert (6-5 favorite Improbable, fourth after acting up in the starting gate):
“I don’t know why he does it. He doesn’t do it in California. Mike (Smith) said he was really good and then heard a noise and it set him off. It’s just bad luck. It is very frustrating when you go that far and he pulls that stuff. He had been doing really well. He still ran pretty well.”