TRAINER/JOCKEY QUOTES FROM THE 150TH RUNNING OF THE BELMONT STAKES
Saturday, June 9, 2018
Bob Baffert, trainer of Justify (No. 1, winner) and Restoring Hope (No. 5, eighth): “It’s amazing. It never gets old. American Pharoah, he’ll always be my first love. (Justify) was showing me the same signs (as American Pharoah), he showed me that same brilliance. Superior horse. I mean, he could have won every race on the undercard today. He’s just that kind of horse.”
Mike Smith, jockey of Justify (No. 1, winner): “This horse ran a tremendous race. He’s so gifted. He’s sent from heaven. He’s just amazing.
“Did you see him standing in the gate? He’s standing so still…I actually thought, ‘He’s not going to break today.’ I mean, he left there like he was going 440 yards in Ruidoso, New Mexico.”
Jose Ortiz, jockey of Gronkowski (No. 6, second): “He broke a bit slow. He’s a horse from England. After that, I didn’t have any choice. I had to drop in and save all the ground. He handled the dirt. I worked him twice and he handled it, so I was optimistic. We got a good trip, it worked out well. He broke a bit slow. I wish he would have broke a little bit better.”
Bill Mott, trainer of Hofburg (No. 4, third): “There was no pace and nobody put any pressure on (Justify) and he kind of walked the dog going around there. They were going slow and (jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.) said he didn’t want to make some crazy move down the backside to go join him, which probably wouldn’t have made any sense. Our horse came running. He ran well. I mean, for not having any pace, he finished up very well.
“Mike (Smith)’s great, obviously, and Justify is probably a great horse. I mean, they’re a good combination and they got the job done. We saw another Triple Crown winner. A lot of people are happy about it.”
Todd Pletcher, trainer of Vino Rosso (No. 8, fourth) and Noble Indy (No. 9, 10th): “I thought Vino Rosso ran well. Johnny [Velazquez] felt like he needed to move a little earlier than he really wanted to because there were pretty soft fractions up front. He felt like if he was going to have any chance he had to go a little sooner than he wanted to and thought that may have compromised his finish a little bit.
“Noble Indy didn’t behave great in the paddock . He got a little bit anxious in the post parade but none of the race went as we wanted it to go. We wanted to get away from the gate, get involved early to be close to the pace. He didn’t break great. He broke out a little bit, and basically Javier decided he was going to something different than we set out to do and the horse didn’t’ respond very well.”
Leandro Mora, assistant to Doug O’Neill, trainer of Blended Citizen (No.10, ninth): “You know when I saw where he was early I knew things were different. (jockey) Kyle (Frey) said he was very keyed up. That if he let him go he probably would have been right there with Justify or farther, and that wasn’t out plan. I think the people, and the noise got to him. He was a little nervous in the paddock.
“This track here is a lot more kick back. A lot more than he saw in (winning) the Peter Pan (G3), even though it was a smaller field, he was in the three-hole that day and he came back dirty, but it bothered him more today. I wish things went differently. We hoped for better. We’ll see. We took the shot. I think he might go to turf. He likes the grass. Maybe come back here, or go to Churchill. There’s always tomorrow.”
Steve Asmussen, trainer of Tenfold (No. 7, fifth): “We were fifth. Justify, God bless. A Triple Crown winner. Good for him.”