Thursday's notable quotes from the Kentucky Derby scene
Edited from Thursday’s Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) notes from Churchill Downs
“It has allowed me to not be overwhelmed this time,” Nyquist’s trainer Doug O’Neill said, regarding his past experience as a Derby winner with I’ll Have Another in 2012.
Trainer Dale Romans: “Once you come into this game, walk through the gate at any racetrack and starting taking care of horses, you’ve got to be thinking about Kentucky Derby.”
Romans on Brody’s Cause: “In this race, what I’ve seen all the times I’ve tried it, acceleration is important. When the hole opens, you can get through it. He can get to it quickly.”
Incoming Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen on the constant strategizing for Gun Runner and Creator in Derby 142: "Overanalyze it to say the least.''
Matt Bryan, who is the “big chief” in the Big Chief Racing stable, co-owners of Derby contender Exaggerator: “You dream about this. It is a blessing. If you’re in the horse business, this is where you want to be.”
Trainer Mikio Matsunaga on Lani: “I have seen him many mornings here and today was his best form.”
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin on Mohaymen’s projected trip: “Hopefully, we break good and follow Nyquist and him and see how it unfolds. We won’t be too far away – stalking from fifth-ish, hopefully.”
Dallas Stewart, trainer of Tom’s Ready, on where he thinks Mohaymen will be – up on a fast pace.
"Mohaymen is going to rock and roll,'' Stewart said. "I think he'll rock and roll. If you work in :46, :47 in the morning, you can look for that in the afternoon, in my opinion.''
Trainer Todd Pletcher has captured the Oaks three times already -- with Ashado in 2004, Rags to Riches in 2007 and Princess of Sylmar in 2013. He was asked if Rachel’s Valentina, who is the 7-2 morning-line favorite for this year’s edition, reminded him of any of his previous winners.
“She has the same kind of qualities they did -- class and ability,” Pletcher said. “Ashado had won the Spinaway ([G1] at Saratoga in her 2-year-old season), just like she did. Rags to Riches was a Grade 1 winner. And Princess of Sylmar had run well with the top horses. Rachel’s Valentina has run against the best; she’s already shown her class.”
And around the barn?
“She’s just an absolute sweetheart,” the trainer said. “She’s so kind; a pleasure to be around. Rags to Riches was just the reverse. She was tough, almost mean. If you didn’t watch out, she’d hurt you.”
Romans’ partner, Tammy Fox, on Go Maggie Go: “She doesn’t act like a horse that’s run only twice. She’s very mature out there.
Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan on Venus Valentine: "I don't want to take her out of her game. It seems like she's just a one-run horse, so I'm not going to try to reinvent the wheel and do something creative.''
Photo courtesy Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com