SANTA ANITA HANDICAP QUOTES, SATURDAY, MARCH 7TH, 2009

JOCKEY QUOTES

JULIEN LEPAROUX, EINSTEIN, WINNER: “I got a good trip. I got him covered up, and the race went like we expected. I expected Johnny (Velazquez on Cowboy Cal) and Rafael (Bejarano on Matto Mondo) to go. I expected to be third or fourth. I came running on the last turn, and we made a good run at the finish. Jose Valdivia’s horse (Champs Elysees) came flying at the end. But we had to make a move when we did. And I think if we could have waited a little longer, we would have won much easier than that. He handled the Pro-Ride surface just fine. He’s a good horse on the turf. He’s a good horse on the dirt. He’s a good horse on anything. I guess there had been a question mark. We didn’t know really about this track, but we were pretty sure he was going to handle it, and he sure did.”

JOSE VALDIVIA JR., CHAMPS ELYSEES, SECOND: “All last winter I’ve been working this horse, and I love him to death because he is the kindest horse. I got lucky when Bobby Frankel gave me a call in the Hollywood Turf Cup, and I’ve been begging him to run him back over this stuff. Man, we were just second best. I was gaining on that winner, but the pace didn’t help. The winner had a real good trip. Even though I had a great trip, I think if the pace had been a little hotter, we would have had a better chance at the end. But take nothing away from the winner, his first time running over this stuff.”

RAFAEL BEJARANO, MATTO MONDO, THIRD: “We got a pretty easy lead, but I had to let him go running a little bit earlier than I wanted. Maybe if I could have waited a little bit longer, it would have been better.”

GARRETT GOMEZ, MONBA, FOURTH: “He ran a very respectable race. I was glad to see him get back on form. We know he’s got a lot of talent. It’s just trying to get him to use it. He seemed interested pretty much the whole race. But when the pace quickened, he’s just pretty much of a plodder. But I was just glad to see him put some effort into it.”

TRAINER QUOTES

HELEN PITTS-BLASI, EINSTEIN, WINNER: “I can’t believe it. He (Julien Leparoux) rode him absolutely beautiful. They’re a great team, those two. It’s an unbelievable feeling. It just means the world to me. He was very comfortable with this track from the time he got here. I worked him on the grass, and I galloped him on the grass, and he felt very similar on the Pro-Ride. It certainly is an option (coming back for the Breeders’ Cup at Oak Tree on Nov. 6 and 7). We’d have to supplement him, but obviously, after today, it’s worth doing it.”

BOBBY FRANKEL, CHAMPS ELYSEES, SECOND: “It was a good race.”

RICHARD MANDELLA, MATTO MONDO, THIRD: “No excuses. Everything went as well as we could plan.”

NOTES: This is the first $1 million victory for Pitts-Blasi. She is the first woman trainer to win the race in this, its 72nd running. Pitts-Blasi said Einstein is scheduled to return to Florida next Tuesday or Wednesday. The winning owners are Bill Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr. of Lexington, who race as Midnight Cry Stable. Today’s on track attendance was 31,496.

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