ABEL CEDILLO, CLEOPATRA’S STRIKE, WINNER: “Phil told me, ‘Make sure to keep him off the pace.’ If he was going to stay with Acclimate, it was going to go bad. I knew if I could keep him on the bit, he was going to come home. I got a perfect trip. I was just sitting inside and everybody got tired, and I just went. I tried to go with Victor, because I know that horse is tough on the lead. As soon as I got close to him, I knew I had it.”
(On getting his first stakes win at Santa Anita):
“Wow, it feels awesome. First I want to say thanks to my Lord, because without him I’m not here. My agent, Tom (Knust), has been doing a great job.”
(Can you be leading rider at Santa Anita?)
“I know it’s tough, but I’m going to work hard on that. There are a lot of good jockeys here, but I’m going to try my best.”
VICTOR ESPINOZA, ACCLIMATE, SECOND: “He’s a pretty cool horse. We asked a lot of today, but I love the way he ran. When the winner came to us, I love the way he fought back.”
PHIL D’ AMATO, CLEOPATRA’S STRIKE, WINNER: “I was confident in his ability I just didn’t know what his distance limitations may or may not be. He trained like a horse that could go a mile and a quarter and Abel rode him to perfection and we got the job done today.
“It’s bittersweet because my other horse (Acclimate) was doing those fractions and to see them both, dueling in deep stretch, I’m proud of them both but Cleopatra proved best, and I am happy for Slam Dunk Racing.”
Asked about the Breeders’ Cup: “For sure Acclimate will go, because he already is eligible but we’ll have to see about Cleopatra. There might be something for him at Del Mar.”
NICK COSATO (SLAM DUNK RACING), CLEOPATRA’S STRIKE, WINNER: “He was presented to us by Jeff Macore out of Texas and a lot of the horses he sends our way are pretty interesting to say the least. Phil’s done a great job with this guy; he really loved him and they didn’t downplay how much confidence he had in him today.
“We have great partners. They let us do our job and we have guys behind us like Michael Nentwig who joined forces with us on quite a few horses about a year ago at Del Mar. When you have people who give you free reign the same way we give the trainers free reign, it’s a recipe for success.
“There’s some talk about Breeders’ Cup but let’s enjoy this one and we will go from there.
“Abel is a solid rider and he fits here; he is really showing it. He just came here before Del Mar where he had an outstanding meet. He rides the turf well; he rides the dirt well. He is pretty well rounded.”
NOTES: The winning owners are Slam Dunk Racing or Michael Nentwig.