MIKE SMITH, AMERICAN ANTHEM, WINNER: “I think you have to throw that last race out, the Santa Anita Derby. I was scrambling the whole time and he got hooked pretty hard in that race.
“He was just really focused today. He jumped well and I eased him back. He eased back so nicely yet he was in the bridle at all times really. I heard the announcer say “And someone is flying to catch him on the outside!” It made me panic and I probably didn’t need to ride him quite as hard as I did. He needed to go ahead and run through the wire so it was a good experience for him.
“Without a doubt stretching him out isn’t out of the question. I think his first time going long was coming off a sprint and also he hadn’t run in a while. In the Santa Anita Derby, I jumped well and put him on the lead. Gormley is such a nice horse, he pushed me so hard that day and maybe it took a little steam out of my horse for a while. I would see no problem with coming back and going long, even next time, if they decide to. He can do it, it’s there. He did that seven eighths pretty handy. I don’t see why another eighth would bother him.”
JOE TALAMO, KIMBEAR, SECOND: “We had pace to run at and I was happy with the way the race set up. We had the winner in our sights, but he was too much today. I still think this is the best distance (seven furlongs) for my horse.”
JIMMY BARNES, ASSISTANT TO BOB BAFFERT, AMERICAN ANTHEM, WINNER: “I don’t know if distance is an issue. At Oaklawn we lost a shoe and in the Santa Anita Derby, it was more the way the race set up, going so fast early. I don’t think stretching him out is out of the question but those are Bob’s decisions and China Horse Club’s. I just take care of the horse and make sure he’s healthy for each race.
“Mike did a brilliant job getting him out of that one hole and they went fast; they went twenty-one and four for the first quarter. Mike just crossed over on everybody and got to the outside in the clear. My only question was being in the one hole. I knew we’d have to get the trip and Mike gave him the trip.”
NOTES: The winning owners are WinStar Farm, LLC, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, LLC, SF Racing, LLC et al.