Notes & Quotes From the Wide, Wide World of Horse Racing on Saturday

(Bill Mott, trainer of Yoshida, wins the G1 Woodward after converting his colt from grass to dirt / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

Notes and quotes from some major racing events that occurred all over the country on Saturday. Some of these were not only impressive, but could have major implications as we moved yet again into another month and another furlong closer to the Breeders’ Cup — to be held at Churchill Downs on Nov. 1 & Nov. 2.

Here we go around the racing world for a glimpse of the action and the reactions:

Saratoga Race Course:

G1 Woodward Stakes:

Bill Mott, trainer of the winner, Yoshida:

“Well, we got our answer (regarding whether the colt would like his first ever race on the dirt). I had a wait and see attitude. The horse had worked well on the dirt. As I said before, he’s got a lot of pedigree for the dirt,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who won the Woodward for the fourth time and first since To Honor and Serve in 2012. “This was a pretty impressive run, actually. I don’t think you ever really know how they’ll run on a surface until you try them. [Winstar’s] Elliot Walden has been wanting to try it for a long time. We talked about it and Yoshida has been running so well on the turf and he’s a Grade 1 winner on the turf ,so you can’t say we made a mistake by not running him on the dirt. We were going to do it. [It] was just a matter of at the opportune time and right now there was no turf race that we had in mind in the next 30 days, so we thought, ‘let’s do it.'”

Joel Rosario, rider of the winner:

“He went very nice,” said Rosario, who won three graded stakes in a row after piloting Raging Bull in the Grade 3 Saranac in Race 9 and Sippican Harbor in the Grade 1 Spinaway in Race 10. “I was just a passenger. He was taking very nice to the dirt, and he liked it early on. Turning for home, he was there for me, and he kept going. Like I said, I was just a passenger. All my thanks to Bill Mott, I’m glad I won the race for him, and that he gave me the opportunity. This is a nice horse.”

Antonio Sano, trainer of runner-up Gunnevera:

“My horse ran good but, if you look, in the last turn, that horse [Yoshida] bumped us and pushed us wide – 10 wide – and it was just impossible to win [from there]. It was a good race, but that [made the difference],” Sano said. Sano filed an objection, but it was disallowed.

G1 Spinaway Stakes:

Gary Contessa, trainer of the winner Sippican Harbor:

“We knew coming into this race that she was going to have to pass the acid test today,” said Contessa, who saddled his second career Grade 1 winner and first since Do It With Style took the 1991 Ashland. “She beat up nobody in her last race and this time she had to beat up a lot of ‘somebodys’ and she delivered. She’s a good filly. She’s as good as we thought she was.”

“Today’s effort was unbelievable because this field was loaded with good horses today,” said Contessa. “She ate dirt, I mean she’s covered with dirt, she made that big move on the outside, a very impressive race. That’s the kind of 2-year-old you want. One that is versatile, you can send her; she can be on the lead or you can take her back and come from last. She’s got a great mind. You see what her mind is like in the stall. She is just the coolest horse in the world. She makes my job easy.

“Today she stamped herself. She’s legit, so were looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup. These are real horses, these are the best of the best,” he added.

G2 Glens Falls Stakes:

Tom Albertrani, trainer of the winner Lady Montdore:

“This is a really a wonderful filly to have around the barn,” Albertrani said. “She didn’t look like much when she first came in [in May] – very skinny and light framed and then she got my attention as she trained. She looked very talented and I started to really like her. She just went around the track with her ears pricked and made it look easy.”

“I thought that this was a perfect opportunity to bring her back after two starts,” said Albertrani. “I thought she had the talent that we could bring her back, and I’m looking big like the Breeders’ Cup. That’s one of the reasons we brought her back to this race. Maybe the [Grade 1, $500,000] Flower Bowl [October 7 at Belmont Park] is next. We’ll see how the timing works out.”

Manny Franco, rider of the winner:

“Tom told me not to fight her,” Franco said. “If she wants to go, let her go. That’s what I did. I didn’t get in her way and she relaxed out there by herself. From the quarter-pole to the wire she was just running like a bullet. I feel great. I’ve been having a great meet thanks to my agent and the owners who keep putting me on horses and it’s a good feeling.”

Del Mar Race Course:

G2 John C. Mabee Stakes:

FLAVIEN PRAT (Vasilika, winner) – “I had to bide my time on the turn, but when I saw a hole she gave me a great kick. Big race for her; big effort. Very impressive.”

DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Cambodia, second) – “I wanted to be closer than usual, but it didn’t work out. Then on the turn I had traffic; but that’s turf racing. The traffic cost me. She gave me a good kick; she exploded. But I was behind the winner all the way.”

EDWIN MALDONADO (Fahan Mura, third) – “If it’s not broke, you don’t try to fix it. She’s a speed horse; that’s what she does. She went for it today, then she hung tough. She ran a good race.”

JERRY HOLLENDORFER (Vasilika, winner) – “We walked over with a lot of confidence. We respect Cambodia and Vladimir Cerin’s horse (Fahan Mura) but we thought we had a really good chance to win. She’s been training so well and doing so well.”

G2 Del Mar Debutante Stakes:

FLAVIEN PRAT (Bellafina, winner) – “No special instructions going in. She was more aggressive today.  I think that race the other day (when she broke her maiden August 5 here going six furlongs) got her in that mode. She was on it. Then when she made the lead, she just dropped the bit; she backed off. Can she go farther?  Well, I guess we’ll see.”

JOSEPH TALAMO (Mother Mother, second) – “My filly never got a breather. She had to run hard all the way.  The winner didn’t.”

GEOVANNI FRANCO (Boujie Girl, third) – “She ran hard. She ran well for third.”

DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Brill, fourth) – “That wasn’t her today. She didn’t run her race. She wasn’t there for me.”

SIMON CALLAGHAN (Bellafina, winner) – “She broke sharp, she was into the bit today and she was always in good position. The race went pretty much as we thought it might and it was a really good performance. It was nice to see her really show her class at the end. I said to Kaleem (owner Kaleem Shah) that she’s the best filly I’ve trained.  She’s pretty special and I think she’s going to keep getting better.”

Kentucky Downs Race Course:

Tourist Mile:

Wesley Ward, trainer of the winner Bound for Nowhere:

“I’ve always wanted to stretch him out, always thought he was a miler,” Ward said. “He’s a big colt, rangy guy, got big airway, has no issues, no problems. It’s just he’s so good at sprinting. When he ran at Ascot and ran so well, this was the race we were pointing for all along. But the closer we got to it, the more I was second-guessing where I would go. But thanks to Julio and the team I have, we all got together and made a decision and it turned out right.”
James Graham, rider of the runner-up Great Wide Open:
“Conor said he was doing good,” Graham said of Great Wide Open trainer Conor Murphy. “He ran his race. I love him. he’s one of those good kind because he tries hard every time. The couple of times he hasn’t run good, the ground had been too hard, they ran quick in front of him. He ran quick today, and he didn’t slow down. The best horse won.”

Connor Murphy, trainer of the runner-up:

“That was a lovely run,” Murphy said. “I was a big worried coming down here that the ground would be too firm, but there’s a nice little bit of give in there, which his horse needs. I didn’t expect him to beat Wesley’s horse or Mr. Misunderstood. But we know he handles this track because he ran over similar tracks in Ireland, so we thought we’d take a shot. We’re delighted. We gave him a break after Canterbury (when eighth in the Mystic Lake Mile) because I ran him eight times in three months, which I never do with my horses. But he’s that type of horse that needs to run. I’m elated. Lovely run off the layoff.”

Florent Geroux, rider of Mr. Misunderstood, who finished third:

“He was never on the bit, completely off the bridle,” said jockey Florent Geroux. “He never traveled well. I was kind of pushing on him the whole way.”
Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes:
Tyler Gaffalione, rider of the winner Henley’s Joy:
“What a professional race he put in today,” Gaffalione said. “All the credit goes to Mike and his team having him ready for this race. He broke alertly. I think it was the addition of blinkers that put him more forwardly placed. When I asked him for run, he moved up a tight spot on the rail and fought on hard. He could be anything. He’s really special. I’m looking forward to getting on him again.”
Mike Maker, trainer of the winner:
“We tried them on one morning and he was very professional and into the bridle,” Maker said. “We thought it was a no brainer. I don’t think he’d have liked being in that tight without the blinkers on. I don’t think he likes it that tight with blinkers on. But he’s such a nice horse he overcame it.”
Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies:
Julien Leparoux, rider of the winner Miss Technicality:
“It’s not easy to just ship in an run on this track,” said jockey Julien Leparoux, the defending Kentucky Downs riding champion who capped a three-win day. “She showed a lot of ability, and she’s a pro. She won at Belmont but I’ve been breezing her the last several times at Saratoga. She was working very well. The goal with Christophe was to come here. He loved her, and she showed a lot of ability. She won very easy. She traveled very good. It was just whenever I wanted to ask her, and she kicked on very nicely. Which is a good feeling to have on this track.”
One Dreamer Stakes:
Reeve McGaughey, son and assistant trainer to HOFer Shug McGaughey on the winner On Leave:
“It looked like she was about the winner the whole way around there,” said Reeve McGaughey, the son of and assistant to the trainer. “I think the horse on the lead stopped pretty quick, so he probably made the lead a little earlier than he wanted. He said she kind of wanted to wait on other horses, which is not anything new for her. But she finished up well. I think she won pretty comfortably.
“She hasn’t won a race since December, so hopefully this gets her confidence going again. Now we can maybe take a shot against the big girls again.”
Florent Geroux, rider of the winner:
“I was laying about fourth,” Geroux said. “There were about three horses going for the lead and I was on the outside. I sat there and saw those horses were getting tired maybe before the quarter pole, so I took my filly out. Actually I felt I was maybe making the lead a little bit soon because she’s had the tendency of not winning lately. But when those horses started stopping in front, I didn’t want to take the risk of the heavy favorite being stuck behind horses. So I decided to move from there. She ran all the way to the wire. She got to wandering around the last eighth of a mile. But she was able to hold off those horses.”




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
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean