VICTOR ESPINOZA, ST. JOE BAY, WINNER: “It feels great to be back in the winner’s circle. It’s very encouraging to go forward in my career after what happened. This has put me on a different level, mentally as well after what happened. I thought I would never be back to ride. It was not easy not riding (during the past three week period).
“I lightened up on my therapy for a week or two and then started to train hard again. I only rode two horses in coming back. This horse (St. Joe Bay) was the first horse I worked since my accident. He’s a different horse since then. He’s changed since that work. The next time I worked him he was so positive. He built up with more weight and he was so happy. The combination changed him for the good. I never thought he would win that easy. This is fun and exciting.
“I tried to jump in and open up as much as I could and he took it from there. He wanted to come out of there but really his body was not too capable so bobbled a bit, but by the second stride he picked up nicely and then I just let him cruise to the lead.”
TYLER BAZE, DR. DOOR, SECOND: “I didn’t think he was going to be that lazy, but besides that he got rolling and he tried hard. I think he ran really well off the layoff. I’d like to thank Bob (Baffert) for the opportunity and would love to ride him back.
JOHN SADLER, ST. JOE BAY, WINNER: “No, this doesn’t make up for the last one (scant nose defeat of Catapult in the Kilroe Mile). We’re really happy for Victor who’s on his comeback. He’s worked hard and it’s been tough with the calendar. He was ready to go a month ago and he had to stop, so it’s good for him to get back to the winner’s circle.
“The horse got was second, got beat a head in this race last year. It’s a good distance for him, he got out, got rolling and the rest is history.”
NOTES: The winning owners are Kosta and Peter Hronis.