VICTOR ESPINOZA, CALIFORNIA CHROME, WINNER: “I wanted to make sure to let him run a little bit down the lane, so he doesn’t create any (new) bad habits.
“The way Chrome ran today is how he ran before. He’s one of the best horses I’ve ever been on. I am so proud of him, the way he ran today. As a stallion for next year, I think he’ll be one of the best.
“I don’t think he got too tired. For such a long time off I think it was a good race, I expected him to be more tired than he was.
“The slow pace didn’t surprise me. I slowed down on the first turn to let Alfa Bird go. If I went fast, I knew that would make (Alfa Bird) go faster as well and it’s his first race back. He’s had so much time off and I didn’t want to burn him too much, I wanted to go easy on him today.
“Today is what I wanted. I didn’t want to override him, I didn’t want to push him. I wanted a balance.
“American Pharoah and California Chrome are too hard to compare, I won’t”
MARIO GUTIERREZ, IMPERATIVE, SECOND: “I got the opportunity to start riding him, and every time I work him or ride him, he gives me his all. He gives me everything, and he has a good heart. It’s tough luck, but we lost to a champion. It’s a small field, and we didn’t want to be too far behind, but I couldn’t go to the lead, either. I tried to find the perfect place without asking him too much, and the race unfolded perfectly for us. We just got out-run in the end.”
ART SHERMAN, CALIFORNIA CHROME, WINNER: “It set up just as we figured. I knew he’d show speed. He’s been wanting to run quite a bit right now by watching his workouts, and I said, ‘He’s got a lot of gas (speed) himself and you can place him where you want. That’s why he’s a perfect horse. You don’t have to bring a game plan with him. He can sit off the pace or go on the pace.
“Right now I think, Wow! Maybe the Dubai World Cup ($10 million March 26). That would be my greatest thrill. He’ll ship January 21, have one prep, then come home after the World Cup.
“He could’ve opened up turning for home, but Victor put the full-Nelson on him. It was just what we needed. He’ll get a lot out of this race, believe me.
“It’s very heart-warming to see his fans and the reception he received. It was just jammed full of people around the paddock. It was just great.”
PERRY MARTIN, CO-OWNER, CALIFORNIA CHROME, WINNER: “I think he ran perfect. I missed Dortmund in there. We would have got a lot more out of this race if he was in there, he’s a real competitor.
“We now have the leading, money earning Cal-bred ever, he surpassed Tiznow with this win. I have an intuition he will surpass Tiznow in the breeding shed as well.
“We’re going to Dubai, I’m adamant. After the race today, I think we need two. I’d like to see him run at a mile and an eighth and then a mile and a quarter prior to running in the World Cup (March 26) and I’ll think that’ll have him 100%.
“I believe California Chrome will leave for Dubai on Jan. 21st.
“California Chrome seemed to struggle a little bit at the end, I thought. It looked as though he was getting a little tired which is why I think we need two in Dubai. I’ll talk to the trainer and we’ll decide.
“I’m own the majority of the horse, so I believe I make the decisions. Until somebody tells me different.”
FRANK TAYLOR, CO-OWNER, CALIFORNIA CHROME, WINNER: “We feel blessed to be a part of this, what a horse! He’s so sound and so genuine. He’s a special, special horse.”
RICHARD BALTAS, IMPERATIVE, SECOND: “He ran great. I’m very proud of the horse. It looked like we might get to him there at the top of the stretch, but Chrome was ready.”
NOTES: Sherman said California Chrome would leave Santa Anita Sunday morning at 10 o’clock for his home base at Los Alamitos. The winning owners are Perry Martin and Frank Taylor of Taylor Made Stallions in Nicholasville, KY, racing as California Chrome, LLC.