FLAVIEN PRAT, HOPPERTUNITY, WINNER: “This has been a great day. Before today, I knew I had a good shot to do well and everything turned out really well. Sometimes it doesn’t, even when you know you have a good chance, but today turned out very well.
“Everyone knows this horse. He ran a great race. I think he may be better than he was last year. He seems better.
“He’s always slow out of the gate, he’ll never be fast and he likes to come from off the pace. Once he starts running, you just have to let him run and do his thing. The worst part for me is the first part of the race, because I have to ask him. But then he just takes you to the wire.”
MIKE SMITH, MOR SPIRIT, SECOND: “He needed this. Going around two turns is what he wants. I’m not too sure I got enough out of it I guess, going seven-eighths (in the Malibu).
“Speed has been playing good so I tried to stay fairly close. Everything worked today, other than Hoppertunity. When (Hoppertunity) runs his A race . . . I mean he’s been running against the best in the world. My horse, he’s just now getting back to where he used to be, hopefully better.
“This race should really set him up. Now he’ll be really fit to run huge next time out. But the seven-eighths…I think he got something out of it, just not enough. He still ran great.”
BOB BAFFERT, HOPPERTUNITY, WINNER, AND MOR SPIRIT, SECOND: “He was training really, really well for this. It’s like the best I’ve ever seen him train. Prat worked him the other day and the track was really fast. He went 10 and four (Jan. 30). I was afraid they went too fast but they were doing it the right way.
“I was really happy about Mor Spirit. I thought for sure turning for home he was going to win it. But Hoppertunity, he just grinded it out, came running, and I’m happy for the (owners) Pegram, Watson and Weitman team. This horse has been a lot of fun for them. There’s nothing like having a good horse. That’s why we’re in the business, so as long as he’s doing well we’ll go to Dubai (World Cup, March 25) and see if we can get another win.
“That was the plan all along. This horse has made so much money just picking up here and there (now $4,066,425). I don’t know what I’m going to do with Mor Spirit. We’re going to play it by ear but today was a good race for him. He was part of that pace up front and they were going pretty fast . . . I think he’ll move forward because he’s a big, heavy horse. He did a lot of running early and he got beat by a Grade I horse that’s made four million dollars. It was a good race.”
KARL WATSON, CO-OWNER, HOPPERTUNITY, WINNER: “I was a little concerned about the mile and a sixteenth today, but he handled it. We’re excited. He’s been doing really well and we’re keeping our fingers crossed. I think the goal is to get him back to Dubai. There’s no California Chrome this year, but we don’t know about Arrogate. There’s always somebody.”
NOTES: The winning owners are Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman. Baffert has won five of the last eight runnings of the San Antonio.