VICTOR ESPINOZA, ACCELERATE, WINNER: “He broke a little slow and they were going slow up front. I put him in the race and they slowed down even more into the first turn. There seemed to be plenty of room up on the lead so I thought I’d take a shot and try to speed up the pace. I thought I could take the lead but when Drayden (on Mubtaahij, on the lead at the rail) saw me try it, he completely shut me down. I bounced off the rail a couple of times.
“I took my time, tried a different technique and just waited until the end.”
JUAN LEYVA, ASSISTANT TO JOHN SADLER, ACCELERATE, WINNER: “He got bumped around a little bit but this horse showed a lot of guts today. He’s obviously a really nice horse and he showed it today. We don’t really tell Victor anything; he knows how to ride.”
KOSTA HRONIS, PART-OWNER, ACCELERATE, WINNER: “I think he’s one of the top Handicap division horses around so he definitely earned his keep today. It was an exciting race and Victor earned his pay today as well, no doubt.
“I’m always a little concerned, a little worried. There are nine horses in the race, so I hoped we would break well and that didn’t happen. Then, I thought we’d get the lead on the backside and obviously that didn’t work so we went to plan “C.” So, Victor made it all work out.”
NOTES: Leyva has been with Sadler “about seven months.”
Santa Anita Stakes Coordinator Chris Merz presents the trophy to Stephanie and Kosta Hronis.
Zoe Metz Photography