RAFAEL BEJARANO, WINNING PRIZE, WINNER: “The last time I rode him at Del Mar, we were on the lead the whole way. This time, I wanted to try something different because I knew there was some speed in here, especially (trainer Steve) Asmussen, with his two horses. I thought he would send one to the lead and let his other come from behind. I decided to let whatever horse wanted to go to the lead and I would just follow right behind. I just tried to get him relaxed and he did, the whole race. When it came to the stretch, I just let him go. You learn something new everyday! He always liked to be on the lead but you try something new, and it worked.”

JOE TALAMO, SUGGESTIVE BOY, 5-2 FAVORITE, FIFTH: “He just got a little tired today. He was coming off a long layoff. I was very happy with my position. I was only a length off the winner, so I was happy with that but the last part of the race they just out-quickened him. So, he was just tired and I think it sets him up for his next race.”


NEIL DRYSDALE, WINNING PRIZE, WINNER: On instructions to Bejarano: “I just told Rafael ‘If one of the Asmussen horses wanted to go, both are speed horses, just let them go.’

“There wasn’t anywhere to run (explaining his absence since the Citation Handicap Nov. 29). Plus, it’s going to be a long year for him, so there was no rush. He’ll come back in the Kilroe (Grade I, $350,000, one mile on grass on March 8) if everything is all right.

“The owners decided not to rush him and it’s working out well, because you have a long year this year. It started out right (winning last August in his U.S. debut) and then it all went south in Kentucky (fourth in the Shadwell Turf Mile Oct. 5, which was taken off the grass due to heavy rain). I’ve never seen it rain so hard in my life . . . The whole thing was submerged.”

JIM CASSIDY, TOM’S TRIBUTE, SECOND: “You know, when you have Mike (Smith), or Gary (Stevens, on Regally Ready) riding you don’t tell them what to do. They pretty much figure it out and get it done. They ran so fast today. It was a great performance by him though. I’d actually like to go a little further (than a mile) but I’ll have to go back into the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (1 Mile on turf, March. 8.)”

NOTES: The winning owners are David Heerensperger of Bellevue, WA, and Jose Nelson.