JOEL ROSARIO, GIFT BOX, WINNER: “He ran really good, every time when the horses were coming up from behind him, he was pushing and wanted to keep going. So, I thought that was pretty good. He got some good headway and when he was heading for home, he kind of took the lead, then fell back a little bit and regained it. He just needed someone to push him a little bit.
I thought it was a perfect trip for a little bit and then right on the backside coming by the half mile, I was in between horses for a little bit and I was looking to get out of there because he’s kind of a free running horse. And I did coming for the turn, I got where I wanted to be on the outside and then he just did the job from there.”
FLAVIEN PRAT, BATTLE OF MIDWAY, SECOND: “I had a good trip. I’ve got no excuse. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.”
JOHN SADLER, GIFT BOX, WINNER: “Hopefully this horse will be in the handicap division this year and we’re not opposed to going to Dubai with him.
“He’s close to my heart. He’s from the first crop of Twirling Candy so I’ve been watching him for a couple of years. He’s trained really well for this race and he’s had a bunch of bullets. He ran like he trained.
“I was following him before the sale happened. He went back to the farm and the previous owners indicated that they’d like to move him along so I went back there before the September yearling sale and took a look at him, and liked him.
“I know he can run, he’s had some good speed figures. We took a shot and here we are.
“He had some interesting races back east, some highly rated allowance races. He was fourth to Arrogate in the Travers, and he was second in another stakes race at Saratoga, so there are a lot of nice running lines in there.
“Isn’t he beautiful? He’s a big, beautiful horse. He’s got that Unbridled’s Song gray coming through from the dam’s side.”
KOSTA HRONIS, GIFT BOX, WINNER: “I was expecting big things today because John told me he had a ‘gift box’ for me, for Christmas.
“John was pointing for this all along so this was always the target. John knew what he had and he was really happy when he got him. He’s been working well and he loves it here. Sadler is doing his magic again.
“This is a nice place to run. I think he likes the west coast and John Sadler makes a difference, no doubt.
“We’ve loved him since we got him. He’s a big strong guy. He levels off good and he’s a pro. He’s very seasoned. He had second-it is back east but I think we pushed him over the hump.
“He won’t run in the Pegasus. He’ll stay here and run in the Santa Anita stakes races. We’ll let Accelerate do his thing at the Pegasus all by himself.
NOTES: The winning owners are Hronis Racing, LLC.