GARY STEVENS, MOR SPIRIT, WINNER: “No, I never had any concerns. I actually got there quicker than I wanted to. I was loaded going into the stretch. He’s pretty special and I’m looking forward to facing more competition.
“He wasn’t even blowing after the race. I haven’t been able to get him tired in the morning yet. Every time we step forward I hope I can find the bottom . . . but I don’t want to find the bottom of him until it’s time. I haven’t got close to that yet and that’s a good feeling. He seems to just do just enough for what’s in front of him; he likes a target. I think as he faces better horses, he’ll only get better.”
BOB BAFFERT, MOR SPIRIT, WINNER: “We thought this race might come up the way it did. I thought the last race (Los Alamitos Futurity) was a very important race because when I got him back from Kentucky (in the Jockey Club at Churchill Downs Nov. 28), Martin (Garcia) had him on the lead because it was muddy and I had shipped him, and he didn’t want to do that, so the way Gary rode him at Los Alamitos, he made him get back and he really educated him and he got the win.
“Today was the same thing: get the win and educate him at the same time. You can do that when you have this kind of horse, with his style. You know he’s a really good horse.”
“He has that long stride, but in the mornings, he’s not a very good work horse. He’s sort of lazy. He needs a target and when he gets a target, he shuts it down, but today was perfect. They were two really nice horses (Uncle Lino and I Will Score). There’s a lot of quality. It makes the race even more interesting in that he’s able to collar those horses.
“He’s a big, strong horse so these races will help him. He holds his weight really well and he’s a good-feeling horse. We just have to keep him healthy. I feel like I have a really top three-year-old, so now we just have to keep him healthy.”
Will he stay here for his next race?
“I don’t know. We know he’ll go on a plane to go somewhere (as he did going to Kentucky) but right now I’ll just go by how he’s doing. It’s just too far ahead.”
GARY SHERLOCK, UNCLE LINO, SECOND: “I’m very happy; he ran good. The pace scenario dictated that we had to do what we did today. We ran by I Will Score and beat him. I thought we were going to be able to pass him (I Will Score) no problem but Gary just got a perfect trip (on Mor Spirit) and ran by us. We’ll move forward off of this. He won’t be leaving here. I don’t have to go anywhere; there’s a million dollar race four hundred yards from his stall (Santa Anita Derby April 9).”
NOTES: Winning owner Michael Lund Petersen is from Reisterstown, Md.