(Smooth Like Strait / Benoit Photography & Courtesy of Santa Anita)
From the Santa Anita Media Team:
UMBERTO RISPOLI, SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT, WINNER: “I studied the race yesterday and this morning because I really wanted to win. The horse is actually really improving himself. We know how he could be keen in the first part of the race, but Michael (McCarthy) does such an amazing job, he’s been relaxed. You can see him behind horses now and he really understands to be there to be calm. Even when the horses reached me at the three eighths pole I thought about what to do, ‘Am I going to go, or stay?’ I just put the gears in and then we went. At the top of the straight I knew I had the race in my hand.
“I like the horse, I had so much confidence in myself, which I’ve never been, I was a little bit nervous to be honest. When I worked him the other morning I said, if the other horse (Scarto 2nd) goes to the Breeders’ Cup this horse has to win this race. So, he gave me a good answer and I think Michael has a good shot in the Breeders’ Cup too.”
MICHAEL McCARTHY, SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT, WINNER:“I was a little disappointed in the way he ran at Churchill Downs (Sept. 5th 4th place). I didn’t think there was a horse around that could beat him that day. Things just didn’t unfold the way we would have liked. We got a little softer turf course than I would have liked, and we got a little bit of a speed duel. This horse has come back, and he has not disappointed since we’ve been back. I was a little skeptical about a mile and an eighth, but he won going a mile and sixteenth in the La Jolla Handicap (Aug. 9) very well. All the stars aligned today. He brought his A-game. Umberto rode him like the leading rider he is. I’m very happy for the Cannon’s and everybody involved, even my groom Mike Munoz and Cleo Thomas, they do an excellent job with this horse, so a lot of credit goes to those guys.”
NOTES: The winning owner is Cannon Thoroughbreds, LLC.