JOEL ROSARIO, GIFTBOX, WINNER: “It was a good race he broke perfect out of there, John told me to keep him close and when he wants to go maybe just follow someone. He did great and it was a good race turning for home. I knew McKinzie was coming for us in the last part. (Gift Box) is a cool horse, he was very tough in the end. He showed a lot of heart today and I have to thank Hronis Racing for the opportunity and to John.”
MIKE SMITH, MCKINZIE, SECOND: “It was a tough beat, I don’t know. I think I was in front I just didn’t get the bob, you know. There’s not a whole lot you can do about that. It’s part of the game.”
JOHN SADLER, TRAINER GIFT BOX, WINNER: “This is very special. I grew up with this race, to win it two years in a row is incredible. I came here as a kid with Lou Rowan (owner/breeder and original board member, Oak Tree Racing Association) when Quicken Tree won the Big ‘Cap (1970), so it means a great deal to me. Joel rode a great race, you could see that he had a lot of horse around the turn and he was just sitting on him. To beat a top horse like McKinzie in a photo like that…We needed it because we lost that tough photo last week (with Catapult, who was beaten a nose by longshot Ohio in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile). This was the plan when we bought this horse and it happened. We couldn’t be happier.”
HRONIS RACING, GIFTBOX, WINNER : “The crew really loved Gift Box, the barn, the exercise riders, John (Sadler), they really like this horse so we took a shot and he proved himself, we are really proud of the last two races. I really thought Gift Box was going to win easy but then McKinzie came flying, I didn’t see that coming so I was grateful we got the bob. The Santa Anita Handicap is a big race for us. We grew up coming to this track and we love everything that Santa Anita stands for and to have this race get rescheduled and everything, Gift Box acted like a professional and waited patiently and it turned out great. It’s really good that we didn’t have to travel with him and he could stay home and win this race. This was a very important race to us. He’s exactly who we think he is and I had no doubt. It is exceptional the trust with John and the team and their decision making. It is always special and it means a lot.”
NOTES: The winning owner is Hronis Racing LLC.