(Valiance winning the G1 Spinster Stakes / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Keeneland)
Aron Wellman (of winning co-owner Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, via phone)
“Just blown away. It’s been such an emotional year dealing with the craziest times that the world has seen. We’re just so honored to win a race like this with such a regally bred filly.
“We’ve just been waiting and waiting and waiting to swing for the fences with her. We started her off last year as a turf filly. She trained well on the dirt all along, but the way things played out schedule-wise, option-wise, we kept her on the turf. She won a stakes last year on the turf as a 3-year-old, and we gave her a lot of time to come into her 4-year-old season. We never really ruled out the possibility that she was a good dirt horse.
“When she won the (Aug. 29) Eatontown (L) off the turf in the slop, you know slop isn’t normal dirt. But it gave us the confidence to take this monumental leap because she was a stakes winner on turf and then she was a stakes winner on dirt. We had nothing to lose by trying to go for the Grade 1. We were going for it even though we knew (Midnight Bisou) was pointing for the Spinster and our hearts go out to the connections of that champion mare since she obviously couldn’t make the race. We felt that much more confident once she was out of the race that we would be live to make some noise.
“We thought she was in with a win opportunity but even hitting the top three would have been huge for her resume and residual value. By Tapit, out of a Grade 1 mare…this thrust her into a whole other stratosphere value-wise.
“It’s an incredible division (the distaff division) this year. They lost Midnight Bisou but you still have Monomoy Girl, who is a Hall of Fame filly in her own right, and the 3-year-old division is incredible.
“Right now, we’re just over the moon to have captured this Grade 1, a race with such prestige. It’s just so enormous to win this race. We’re so honored.”
Todd Pletcher (winning trainer of Valiance, via phone)
“It seemed like she had simply been training better on dirt than she ever did previously. When she won her first three starts on the turf, it was logical to keep her on there. But when she didn’t fire her A race in the New York (G2) and kind of had a confidence builder (in an allowance race at Colonial Downs), when the Eatontown came off the turf at Monmouth and she ran…it was very impressive the way she did that that day. The margin doesn’t do justice to how easily she won that day. That’s when we started thinking about taking a shot in a big one.
“That was kind of the one thing missing on her resume was that graded stakes win. With a filly of her quality and pedigree, something like that was so valuable to her and we felt like in light of how well she was doing, it was worth taking a shot.”
“That would be the hope (to run back in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff-G1). We’ll see how she comes out of it. Probably bring her and (Bourbon-G2 winner) Mutasaabeq back to New York this week and prepare from Belmont. If she trains accordingly, that will be the goal.”
Amelia Green (assistant trainer)
“She’s been training good – she’s only been here four days. I’m just lucky they keep sending the winners in from out of town. As long as the saddle is put on right, that’s all I have to do.”
Luis Saez (winning rider)
“That was the plan to let those fillies go on the lead and see if we can catch them. Everything came so perfect, the way we planned it. When we came to the straight, it was a battle but she did it pretty good, and she fired and won the race.”
“The (fast pace) was the plan. I knew that was going to happen. It was good for us.”
Brad Cox (trainer of third-place finisher and beaten 6-5 favorite Shedaresthedevil)
“I am disappointed; she went too fast, too early. She never got a breather. It was a lot to ask, bringing her back in four weeks (after winning the Kentucky Oaks-G1). And she is a 3-year-old against older fillies and mares for the first time. Now the Breeders’ Cup is a big, big question mark.”