VICTOR ESPINOZA, FINNEGANS WAKE, WINNER: “I thought today was going to be too short for him, but obviously it wasn’t. He’s getting good. I thought they would go slower up front but there was still good pace. I wanted to be closer to the front but not too close.
“He was a little confused because of where we broke from so I think he sat back further than usual because of that. He went nice and comfortably which worked out well but I had to encourage him a bit to get into the race. I had to ask him early because he’s big and he doesn’t have a ton of speed. He took a little while, but it worked out well.”
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE, PATRIOTICANDPROUD, SECOND: “It got a little congested turning for home so I had to wait for a hole to open up. One never did, so I had to go outside of the winner eventually. I think if I could have let him get a run under him a bit sooner it would have been closer. I think it would have been a horse-race for sure but it didn’t happen.”
PETER MILLER, FINNEGANS WAKE, WINNER: “I was concerned this might be a little short; he just won at a mile and a half, but when I looked at his form, he had won at a mile and an eighth before. He’s just such a neat horse. He’s a stud but he’s just the coolest guy to be around.
“He eats well and he’s been training really well, so I felt like he would run his race. Whether he could get up going a mile and an eighth was the big question, but Victor (Espinoza) gave him a super ride.
“We’ll look at all our options (for future races) including maybe even Dubai. The horse trains well on dirt and he ran well in the Clark, so perhaps even the Santa Anita Handicap (March 7). I don’t know. I’ve got to get with the owners, enjoy this for now, and maybe next week set up a game plan.”
NOTES: The winning owners are Jerry Crawford of Des Moines, Iowa, who race as Donegal Racing, and Gary Hartunian of Los Angeles, who races as Rockingham Ranch.