JOE TALAMO, CONQUEST TWO STEP, WINNER: “He had a perfect trip. I was very happy to see three horses in a speed duel. I just stayed outside and he wasn’t even getting any dirt in his face. What a race he ran. We were high on his last race, when he ran second to Shared Belief (in the Grade I Malibu) and I know a lot of people thought it was a fluke but he really ran that same race again today.
“It feels good to get my third win today. It’s not the first time I’ve started a meet slow; I was zero for eighty one time at this meet. It’s just a part of the game. You have to keep your head up and keep working hard. It’s not what you’re doing when you win, it’s what you do when you’re losing. You have to stay focused and keep a good mind-set.”
MIKE SMITH, DISTINCTIV PASSION, FOURTH: “I didn’t have a lot of options and I didn’t get a breather, not one. His last race (Grade III Midnight Lute Dec. 27) when I was on the outside, I was able to let Heir of Storm challenge me on the inside; I just sat out there. Today, I was down on the rail and they were on top of me the whole way. Other than that, he ran a good race today.”
MARK CASSE, CONQUEST TWO STEP, WINNER: “They set it up nice for him. I was smiling pretty big down the backside (at the fractions) watching those three go at it. I thought he was a big price based on his last effort, but I understand everybody likes to see two in a row. I kind of like it myself. When they run a big race, you want to see them come back and do it again.”
Next race? “I don’t know. We’ll enjoy this one today and hopefully try to win another one.”
JEFF BONDE, DISTINCTIV PASSION, FOURTH: “One hole, no good.”
NOTES: The winning owners are Ernie Semersky and Dory Newel of Highland Park, Illinois, who race as Conquest Stables LLC.