RAFAEL BEJARANO, JERANIMO, WINNER: “This horse loves to sit back and relax. He doesn’t like to be too close to the lead because he gets too excited. He was flying at the end and showed me a huge kick. Nakatani was only four or five lengths in front of me (on pace-setting Slim Shadey) so I knew I just had to wait and I would catch him. I knew I had a lot of horse and just needed to wait for the stretch.”
COREY NAKATANI, SLIM SHADEY, SECOND: “I was hoping some of the other jockeys had been watching races and would realize that speed hasn’t been carrying that much. He was pressured pretty much the whole way.
“I tip my hat to the winner, we got beat by a great horse. This was the first time I’ve had the chance to be on him. I think a mile and-a-quarter may be more suited for this horse. The way the race set up we got a little more pressure early on.”
SIMON CALLAGHAN, SLIM SHADEY, SECOND: “He ran a really good race. He’s probably a little better going further but that said I might run in the (Grade II) San Marcos (Feb. 8. 1 ¼ miles on Turf.) He ran well, I’m happy with him. I thought he had it for a minute until I saw that horse coming I knew it was over.”
MIKE PENDER, JERANIMO, WINNER: “Bejarano said it best. He said ‘at the three-eighths pole, I wasn’t losing. I could have dropped the stick and still won.’ I knew he was fresh. We had backed off his training a little, which I thought was best seeing as how he’s eight years old. He didn’t drop as far out of it today as he had in some other races where he just didn’t fire so, consequently he had dead aim on the rest of the field throughout.
“He would have been four for four in this race if his bone-head trainer hadn’t tried to make a speed horse out of him. We tried to go wire-to-wire a couple of years back and Norvsky ran us down. I knew I had screwed that one up.
“The good thing, about a great horse is that they forgive the humans that make the mistakes around them. He is just the most forgiving animal to be around.
“(owner) B.J. Wright is fighting the battle (referring to his health.) We are all confident he’s going to win it and we’re looking forward to a big 2014. He was 50/50 to come out today but there were a lot of things going on so he stayed home.
“We are going on a race-to-race basis with this horse. If he starts feeling good, we’ll run him. As you can see last year we ran him with more time in between races than the year before. This race will probably take a little bit out of him so we’ll re-group and see what the future holds.
“He’s loved in the barn. He has three different nicknames, he has t-shirts, he has a shrine in front of his stall. The greatest part is that you’ll see him on YouTube flipping my shoe back-n-forth to me. He’s spoiled, he’s a ham. I would tell you the names, but they’re not appropriate.”
Notes: owner B.J. Wright is from Pasadena, CA and Robert V. LaPenta is from Westport, CT.