VICTOR ESPINOZA, MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE, WINNER: “I had a lot of horse at the top of the stretch but I did not want to move too soon. I knew that everybody was getting tired down the lane and I felt like I had a lot more horse than everybody else. When the time came, I switched the lead and it was time to go. I hit him one time with the right hand and he didn’t respond much. I hit him with the left hand and he really responded. I was following the front horse (Comma to the Top) and he moved out and I had to check my horse for a second, but he is unbelievable because he still came back.
“Bob (Baffert) and I have been lucky together. I think I am his lucky charm. This win is special for me. I’ve rode in the Derby a few times and it finally happened today. I think the distance is not a problem for this horse. I think it’s even better for him. He’s still learning and still hasn’t given 100 percent of what he has. He ran an unbelievable race today.”

GARRETT GOMEZ, SILVER MEDALLION, 5-2 FAVORITE, FOURTH: “I had a perfect trip. He was traveling like a million dollars until the 3/8 pole. When I got to the 3/8s pole, he still traveled good, he just wasn’t traveling the same. He ran respectably.”


BOB BAFFERT, MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE, WINNER: “I never won a Santa Anita Derby with a horse off a maiden race like this, but he was training well and his last race was a great race . . . Comma to the Top ran a great race. I thought we weren’t going to run him down, he was still a little green . . . he’s just figuring things out right now. He grew up in a hurry. You want your last (Kentucky Derby) prep to be like this. We still have Jaycito (who is being considered for the Coolmore Lexington (at Keeneland on April 23). The Factor runs at Oaklawn (Park, Arkansas Derby) next week (April 16) so we’ll see what he does there, if he can handle a mile and an eighth. We still have a ways to go so you never think that far ahead. Things can happen to these horses, so you don’t try and get too excited about it. But the Zetchers tonight, they can get excited about it.”

PETER MILLER, COMMA TO THE TOP, SECOND: “I can’t complain about anything. The horse
ran like I knew he could run. He got a great ride, he slowed it down nice, he kicked away and we just got nailed the last couple jumps. I can’t be upset with anyone.” Asked about the Kentucky Derby: “No, no. We’re going to give him a break and hopefully come back for a fall campaign.”

JOHN SHIRREFFS, MR. COMMONS, THIRD: “He ran all right considering his inexperience.” Asked about the Kentucky Derby: “The money (graded stakes earnings) determines whether you go or not. I thought he ran well. Mike (Smith) said he just displaced (his epiglottis) a little at the end of the race, so that might have been a big factor.”

STEVE ASMUSSEN, SILVER MEDALLION, FOURTH: “I thought Garrett gave him a great chance and I was disappointed that he didn’t pick it up from there. The trip was better than you could have hoped for. It was a little crowded going into the first turn, but it sorted out perfectly for us, and he didn’t take advantage of it. I thought Garrett gave him every chance.”

WINNING OWNER/BREEDER ARNOLD ZETCHER: “Unbelievable. We knew he looked good. We wouldn’t have put him in if we didn’t think he had a shot . . . I haven’t even thought about it (going to the Kentucky Derby). We wouldn’t even allow ourselves to think of those things.”

NOTES: The winning owner is Arnold Zetcher of Los Angeles. This was Baffert’s 41st win of the meet, his 11th stakes win of the meet and his record sixth Santa Anita Derby victory. It was Espinoza’s first Santa Anita Derby win from his seventh mount.