2-17-2018 Bravazo, with Miguel Mena aboard, pushes to the lead to beat Snapper Sinclair in a close finish in the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir

Here are some quotes from Saturday’s top preps for the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, and a few other notes along the way:

Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds:

From winning rider, Miguel Mena, who was aboard Bravazo:

“It’s very exciting and I’m very thankful to Mr. Lukas because they gave me the chance on such a nice horse. The horse came out sharp and he was on the bridle nice. I was confident and had a lot of horse. The horse on the inside was hard to beat. I didn’t know if I had it, but thankfully I did. I have a nice horse.”

From winning trainer, Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas:

“I didn’t know it was that close. He (Miguel Mena) was getting into him pretty good and he drifted out. That cost us a little bit. He’s (Bravazo) a fighter. He’s tough. He’s got real good tactical speed. He’s a horse that carries his weight well and can withstand training up to the (Gr. I Kentucky) Derby.”

“We’ll get him (Bravazo) back here with me and if everything checks out and goes right then I’m going to lock up Miguel Mena,” Lukas said. “I’ll pack him and the horse in Styrofoam and keep them under lock and key until the next race.”

Lukas went on to explain how Mena got the mount, after his regular rider, Gary Stevens, took off:

“(Jockey) Gary (Stevens) had a commitment on a live horse (Streamline) in the Bayakoa so I made a phone call. I felt pretty good about getting the meet’s leading rider. Hell, he knows every grain of sand on the track.”

Steve Asmussen trainer of Snapper Sinclair (second):

“Snapper Sinclair ran hard. It’s disappointing to lose a photo in such a serious race but you end up being very proud of the horse’s effort.”

Adam Beschizza jockey of Snapper Sinclair (second):

“I’m thrilled for the opportunity. He’s improved leaps and bounds since the Lecomte. He’s probably just started to grasp the fact of the dirt. He’s putting himself in the right position. Everything went to plan today and it just goes to show he’s a very versatile horse on both surfaces. There’s a big future in him. He’s going to win some nice races.”

John Velazquez jockey of Noble Indy (third):

“That’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to teach him. I wanted to give him a good schooling and see how he reacted. In the end he ran good, just a little green that’s it.”

Elliot Walden, CEO of WinStar Farm, owner of Noble Indy (third):

“I was very pleased. Always like to win, but I think Johnny made the choice to take him off horses and that might have cost us the race today, but I think in the long run it will be a good experience.”

Javier Castellano, jockey of Instilled Regard (fourth):

“Those two horses (Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair) never came back to me at all. I had the same trip as I did last time. He relaxed behind horses and I looked for that kick but he never gave it to me today. He felt good and healthy but unfortunately today wasn’t the day.”

(Paved wins El Camino Real Derby, to become the first filly to capture the Stakes / Photo Courtesy of Golden Gate Fields)

El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields:

From winning rider Drayden Van Dyke, who guided Paved — the first filly to ever win the Stakes:

“She’s just a Cadillac. She looked around a little bit towards the end. I think there is more left in there, too. She is very talented.”

From winning trainer Michael McCarthy:

“I thought she ran super today. She got a good position and when Drayden asked her, she responded nicely.”

(Monomoy Girl captures the Rachael Alexandra Stakes at the Fair Grounds in style / Photo Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)

Rachael Alexandra Stakes at the Fair Grounds (a prep for the Kentucky Oaks):

From winning trainer Brad Cox:

“I wasn’t thinking good thoughts. I was shocked she got away like that, although she had gate trouble earlier before she ever run. That’s why I decided to run her long first time on the turf. Her last three works her at the Fair Grounds have been phenomenal. I was a little worried that some of the other fillies had a race on her over the last month. She showed us a lot. Overcoming things, dirt in her face, passing horses, stuff like that. She’s becoming a big girl.

From winning rider Florent Geroux:

“(I felt good) at the three-eighths pole, when I went by Wonder Gadot. I was fully loaded and the horse on the lead was coming back to me fairly easily, she goofs around a little bit at the end, she’s pretty much done that in all of her starts, I don’t think she’s a big fan of the whip, if she keeps on running and winning, I don’t need to use it. I think there are a couple things we can work with Brad (trainer Cox) and his team and I think she can overcome that. The main thing is we know she can run fast. She spooks around a little bit, sometimes the whip or a little mark on the ground. She’s very aware of what’s going on in front of her.”

Cox indicated the next start would be either the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks or the G1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland.

Bret Calhoun trainer of Classy Act (2nd) and Patrona Margarita (4th)

Classy Act:

“One thing that cost Classy Act a little bit is she broke a little tardy and she usually breaks sharp. The main thing you want to do is just don’t touch her, don’t smooch at her, or take a big hold. Because she did break tardy, he had to kind of shove on her a little bit and when he did she jumped into the bridle a little harder than he wanted. She got a little too keen. If she breaks like she’s supposed to, he probably never has to touch her and she’s probably a little more relaxed. I was happy with it, I wish she would’ve broke a little sharper. I think that would’ve helped us a little bit but I don’t know it would’ve changed the outcome.”

Coming back for the Fair Grounds Oaks?

“I think so. If she looks good after this and bounces back good, I think we will come back.”

Patrona Magarita

“I thought I had her really ready and really fit, but to come off the bench in these kind of races is very difficult. She looked like she was going to be third and flattened out, she just got a little tired. I was happy her race overall too.”

Calhoun indicated the Fair Grounds Oaks is likely for her too.

Mark Casse trainer Wonder Gadot (3rd):

“It’s tough. Johnny thought maybe he wished he went on with her a little bit but we did that last time and it didn’t work. The winner did everything wrong and was impressive. We’ll see what happens. She’s a Canadian bred. She’s got a lot of options.”