MARTIN GARCIA, DORTMUND, WINNER: “He’s a really good horse. He’s just a big baby; he’s still learning. I broke sharp and I put myself in a good position. When I asked him to go he started moving slowly. It looked like Firing Line went by me but in the end, when I asked him, my horse started coming back. Firing Line gave us pressure but my horse just took off again.”
GARY STEVENS, FIRING LINE, SECOND: “I was disappointed. I saw that Martin was asking his horse and he wasn’t getting any response and I was sitting there with a lot of horse. I thought I would never say I moved too early at the eighth pole in a dirt race, but I moved too early. At the three-eighths, I saw Dortmund wasn’t responding and I was smiling. I said we’ll see what he does and we were opening up and he (Dortmund) was idling. I thought we buried the one we had to beat, then I saw the shadow coming back at me.”
BOB BAFFERT, DORTMUND, WINNER: “He was pretty sharp today. In the paddock, he was pretty sharp and I knew he was going to want to go. I had this race penciled in and I wanted him to run well so maybe I could skip other races and wait for the Santa Anita Derby ($1 million, Grade I, 1 1/8 miles on April 4).
“Turning for home when that horse (Firing Line) came up on him, for an instant I felt like Bill Belichick of the Patriots. I thought, ‘Oh, man, that’s too bad.’ It looked like that horse was going to go by him, but then he’s such a fighter, he just kicked in. You really don’t know about these horses until you put them in that scenario, and that’s twice now that he just fought and came on to win like that. That was him. When they opened up on the field, I said it was a match race now. Firing Line is a really nice horse.
“It was exciting, because I thought we were beat, and when he came back like it made me really appreciate it a lot more. It makes it sweeter because going in I thought he was the best horse, then that horse went by him and I thought maybe he’s not as good as I thought. This was a point when you find out, ‘Shall I stay on the bus or get off at the stop.’
“It was a great horse race and I’m just fortunate I was on the winning end. Silver Charm, he was a fighter and fought really hard like that. It was good to win this race for Beverly Lewis, who is here today.”
SIMON CALLAGHAN, FIRING LINE, SECOND: “It was Gary’s view that he moved a little early. All we know is he ran a very good race. They (Dortmund and Firing Line) pulled a long way clear. It’s disappointing not to win.”
(Did you think you had it?) “I did. Gary came back and the first thing he said is I’d ride him a little differently next time . . . These things are always easy after the event and the horse is still learning. I think one thing for sure is he’s a very good horse and he got beat by a very good one. These are two very good horses.”
KALEEM SHAH, OWNER OF DORTMUND: “We thought it was a two=-horse race going in and that’s what happened. Arnold Zetcher (owner of runner-up Firing Line) is a very good friend. It was very tough, but it’s the Red, White and Blue (stable colors) that got my horse through. We’ll probably run in the San Felipe (Grade I, 1 1/16 miles on March 7 next).”
NOTES: The winning owner is Kaleem Shah of San Diego. This is Baffert’s fifth Lewis win. The others: General Challenge (1999); Domestic Dispute (2003); Pioneerof the Nile (2009); and Flashback (2013). Kentucky Derby qualifying points are: 10 to the winner, four to the second horse, two to the third, and one to the fourth.