FLAVIEN PRAT, BAL A BALI, WINNER: “He did a great job today; he’s just a really good horse. I had a little trouble on the turn because it was his first time on a short turn like that but he can run longer than this; he can run a mile. He’s a great horse.
“He has worked so good in the mornings so I was pretty confident. He just repeated his works today. I wasn’t really surprised (by his win). He was the champion in Brazil so he can be the champion here, why not?”
VICTOR ESPINOZA, TALCO, SECOND: “My horse ran an awesome race. I decided to make a run around the turn and he was really running, but the winner got through inside of us and he was too much.”
RICHARD MANDELLA, BAL A BALI, WINNER: Noted the horse was in traffic a good portion of the race: “Yes, but he’s a pro. He’s run enough times. He knows what he’s doing. Flav’s (Flavien Prat) a pro, too. It really is fulfilling to get his first race in the U.S. under his belt, because he really had a serious problem coming out of quarantine when he had laminitis.
“The podiatrist at Rood & Riddle (in Lexington, Ky.) named Vernon Dryden (DVM) did an unbelievable job of getting him back like this. He’s based in Kentucky but he’s gone to Florida and worked on him, he also came out here and worked on him. I can’t say enough about the job he did.”
Mandella said he would have to give some thought on his next race, either the $1 million, Grade I Manhattan at 1 ¼ miles on turf Belmont Stakes day June 6 or the Grade I, $400,000 Shoemaker Mile on turf at Santa Anita June 13.
LARRY BENAVIDEZ, ASSISTANT TO JOHN SADLER, TALCO, SECOND: “We thought we were home free at the quarter pole but I guess not; he ran great though.”
NOTES: The winning owners are Rick Porter of Lexington, Ky., who races as Fox Hill Farms, Inc., and David Pope of Paris, Ky., who races as Siena Farms, LLC.