Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable’s 4-year-old Morning Line was the even-money favorite in his first start since a narrow loss when second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in early November, set the pace into the turn, but had to settle for third, a half-length behind the runner-up in his first outing since last year’s Florida Derby (G1) in March.
Trainer Cam Gambolati (Soaring Empire) – “He’s always been a very talented horse, but a little quirky. We’ve had him to the gate maybe 10 times (schooling) since his last race (Cigar Mile). And like Jose (Lezcano) said just now, when he gets to the front he has a tendency to wait on other horses. He won’t run in the Donn Handicap. He’s a (one-turn) chute horse and the main goal here will be the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) (Mar. 12). Maybe we’ll run him in the sprint race going seven-eighths before that (Gulfstream Sprint (G2) (Feb. 12).”
Jockey Jose Lezcano (Soaring Empire) – “There were only five horses in the race so I didn’t want to drop too far back. I saw they weren’t going that fast so I decided to take a chance and stay up close to the lead. I really didn’t have to ask him until the last quarter and from there he ran on well.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher (Rule): “We thought we were going to get a stalking trip will all the speed in the race and that’s the way things turned out. He ran very hard and should really get a lot out of the race. We’ll see how he comes out of the race, but the Donn is a race were looking at.”
Jockey John Velazquez (Morning Line) – “It was a good pace, but no too pace for this kinds of horses. I had to get after him a little bit early and when I did he ran on, just didn’t give me the kick that he usually does. He didn’t stop, he just didn’t do his normal running.”
Jockey Javier Castellano (Rule) – “I was really playing the race by ear. We got bumped a little at the beginning and that let the speed horses take advantage, so I just relaxed my horse. I didn’t really have a choice. My horse ran really well. I was very happy with him.”