ARCADIA STAKES QUOTES

JOCKEY QUOTES

MIKE SMITH, MR. COMMONS, WINNER: “He’s just incredible. Like I said before, he makes me feel like a kid again. When I ride him he gives me a whole lot of guts because I believe in him so much. I know that he’s going to go anywhere I ask him to go, and he does it with extreme acceleration. He just makes my job really easy.”

In regards to the inquiry: “I didn’t feel I bothered anybody because I accelerated so quickly. I think Corey (Nakatani) thought I was going to interfere with him but I accelerated so fast I got out of his way before there could be any trouble. I wanted to get in the pocket, and I was a little bit worried about getting inside of M One Rifle because it was his first time on the grass. Going a mile, I thought if he didn’t kick on, which he didn’t, around the turn then I might get stuck in behind him.
“I had already committed myself at that point, so I didn’t want to make the race any harder on my horse than it had to be. He loves to be in the pocket, so I took the chance. Like I said, I have so much confidence he’ll go wherever I point him, and he did. He went through another tight hole again and did it with a lot of courage.”

RAFAEL BEJARANO, WILLYCONKER, SECOND: “He tried really hard. He can do anything he wants. I didn’t think I had a chance to hold off the eight (Mr. Commons). My horse had all the opportunity to win the race just the eight was the best.”

TRAINER QUOTES

JOHN SHIRREFFS, MR. COMMONS, WINNER: Asked how he felt when the horse was saving ground down the backside: “I have a lot of confidence in Mike (Smith). He knows the horse so well, that he’s just waiting for an opening.”
Asked if he was concerned when Willyconker made a run outside of Mr. Commons in the stretch: “Not really . . . Obviously, that’s what we’re hoping (that he runs in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Nov. 2 and 3). Last year he was a little immature and had a little trouble in the race (finishing fifth in the BC Mile on Nov. 5). Now he’s handling tight spots very well . . . There’s so much difference between him now and when he ran in the Santa Anita Derby (third last April 9), you cannot imagine. Totally different. Experience is a great teacher.”
Asked if the Grade I, $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf March 3 would be next: “I don’t know. We’ll see. Hopefully we can make that race. It’s hard to say right away.”

NOTES: The winning owner is Ian Banwell of Versailles, Ky., who races as St. George Farm Racing, LLC.

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