Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Whitney Invitational Handicap (G1) Draw Quotes

Ian Wilkes, trainer of defending Whitney champion Fort Larned (No. 3, 7-5 morning-line odds): “That’s why I’ve got [jockey] Brian [Hernandez, Jr.]. He’s tactical; he can sit behind. Don’t forget Mucho Macho Man is a fast horse, as well. All three speed horses drew on the inside here. It’ll be up to Brian. He can sit; that’s not a problem.

“It’s just important to get out of the gates and have a good, clean break. That’s probably the key to it all.”

“It’s fine. I’ve learned not to worry about the post position. The horse has always taken care of me. I drew a little inside in the [Breeders’ Cup] Classic in the four hole, and I came out of the two in the Stephen Foster. I just leave it up to him.”

On being defending champion: “The good thing is, it just means I won it last year. Let’s hope we can have a little bit more luck this year.”

Todd Pletcher, trainer of Cross Traffic (No. 4, 5-2): “I’m pleased with the draw. I’m happy that we drew outside Fort Larned as I anticipate the two of us will be significant pace factors in the race.”

Kathy Ritvo, trainer of Mucho Macho Man (No. 2, 6-1): “He’s doing great. He’s training fantastic. He can’t be doing any better going into the race. The 2 [post position] is not my favorite number. We have a lot of confidence in Edgar, and I think the horse will do his running. He has some nice speed. He’s quick coming out of the gate. I think he has to get the best position that he can. We’ll see what happens.”

“This year, we had a slow start. We ran into a track that was not to his liking. Then, he came up with a virus. We restarted everything because he’s such a good horse. He came back and had a really good race in the Criminal Type at Belmont. It was similar to his race in the Alysheba last year before he won the Suburban. It was a good race, and it turned out to be a tough race. We were proud of his effort. I think it has set him up perfectly. I think he is doing as good as he did coming into the Woodward last year. He likes the track up here. He hasn’t missed a work. It’s a tough field, but he belongs here.”

Dean Reeves, owner of Mucho Macho Man (No. 2, 6-1): “We really had a nice 2011. Everything went our way. When you’re in this business, you’re due for a little downside. We had a tough start at 2013. We have a lot of confidence that the rest of this year will be great. We’re thrilled to be here. We think he’s gotten back into position where he was last year. He’s moving forward. We’re looking forward to a great race. There are a lot of fast horses in that first four [post positions]. I think we’ll be fine. The jockeys have to let their horses break well and set up as the race unfolds.”

Bill Mott, trainer of Ron the Greek (No. 5, 6-1): “I don’t think it really makes any difference where we were drawn, and I think we’re probably one of the easiest horses in the race to predict where we’re going to be. I don’t think we’re going to force any of the three speed horses in the race. Everyone knows where we’re going to be coming from.”

“He should have [a good pace]. Hopefully Cross Traffic, Fort Larned, and Mucho Macho Man all go at it.”

On running Ron the Greek and not Flat Out: “We planned the race for Ron the Greek and it was more of an option for Flat Out. I don’t think he was as sharp as he should be for a race like this and we opted to wait for the Woodward.”

On finishing a distant third to Whitney favorite Fort Larned last time out in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster: “I think he’s like a lot of horses - I don’t think he runs his best race every time. It seems like about every third shot he jumps up and runs a good one. Last year, actually, we felt after it was all said and done that the Whitney was probably his biggest race of the year, even though we were second. We got beat by a horse [Fort Larned] that was much better than us on the day. We thought on that particular day we were getting to him a little bit and swung a little bit wide. But we were pleased with his race and we hope he runs as good this year.”

Can you tell if he’s coming up to a big race? “No, you can’t. I’ve tried to figure that out but I can’t. But he’s doing well. The timing should be good for him now.”

Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Alpha (No. 6, 10-1): “He’s not the best gate horse; he kind of acts up at times. He broke through the gate in his last race [the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap on July 6], so we’re happy he’s not in there too long. He’s funny. We’ll probably go with no handler again because he seems to get into a fight with the handler. We’ll talk to the gate crew. He’s good in there – we school him all the time. He just gets a little amped up on the day.”

“He loves it here [at Saratoga]. He’s training great, but we found a tough field to run against. We hope the track is in our favor. He really looks great. He didn’t run great [in Dubai], but he didn’t run great in his last two for us. They did a good job, he looks fabulous, he couldn’t be doing any better – it’s just a tough race.”

Charles LoPresti, trainer of Successful Dan (No. 1, 12-1): “I hope he shows up this time. He didn’t run his race at all at Churchill [when fourth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 15]. He’s never run a bad race, and [jockey] Julien [Leparoux] said he just wasn’t handling the track. Nobody was going to beat Fort Larned that night. He was just an incredible horse that night.”
“I’m a little worried about this 1 post. I would have liked to have been mid to outside, but that’s the way it is. We’ll see how they break and let Julien take it from there.”

“He’s pretty sharp right now. We’ll leave it in Julien’s hands. It’s up to him. He’s got a lot of faith in the horse, and he’s happy about riding him again.”

“He has a lot of talent and when he’s right, he’s really good. We’ve had some problems with him, but I think we’ve got him good right now. He likes it here. He’s training really well. He’s had two good breezes over the track. I think he’s going to have a big effort. I hope he will, anyway.”

Nick Zito, trainer of Fast Falcon (No. 8, 15-1): “I’m not too happy out there. Last year, unfortunately, he had post 11 in the Travers. He’s a horse who comes from behind, so it’d be nice if he can save some ground. Junior Alvarado is a terrific jockey and fits him well. We’ll just go from there. I’m hoping he’ll drop over a little bit, but it’d be nice if we were already there. The main thing is the horse is doing well and deserves a shot.”

Phil Gleaves, trainer of Csaba (No. 7, 20-1): “It wasn’t our original plan. Our original plan was to run in [the Birdstone] on Friday as a prep for the Woodward and let these horses knock themselves out a little bit and catch them when they weren’t so fresh. When that race didn’t fill, Mr. [Bruce] Hollander and I discussed it, and we felt we should be in here. I have never seen the horse look so good. I have never seen the horse train better. He’s been up here for a month. I think we deserve a shot in here. The odds don’t bother me. I think he fits with these horses. He’s an improving horse. We still haven’t gotten to the bottom of him yet. There are still some bigger races to come from him. I think he’ll run very well.”

“Obviously, with all of the speed on the inside, I will sit down with Luis [Saez] and we’ll figure out some kind of a strategy. He ran a super race here in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame that came off the grass. He got beaten a head to Quick Wit. He ran a pressured race all around.”

“I won the [1986] Travers and that was very prestigious. The Whitney is obviously an extra prestigious race. It would be a great feeling to win it. Saratoga is everything. It is my favorite racetrack in the world and I have been to most of them. It’s just a beautiful place to be. I love to come up here when I can. I try to come up here with horses that are live. As long as we can keep doing it, we’ll keep coming to Saratoga.”

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