JOEL ROSARIO, COMBATANT, WINNER: “It’s beautiful – it was nice to win and to win it for John. I feel sorry that my other horse (Gift Box) scratched, but this was a nice thing to make up for that.
“He was in a good spot. It looked like they didn’t go too fast – it was a good pace for us. He was very comfortable where he was, and I was happy with how he progressed.”
TYLER GAFFALIONE, MULTIPLIER, SECOND: “We had a great performance today, Multiplier gave it everything he had like he always does, but we just didn’t have enough in the end. He was giving me everything he had, it is really hard to knock him right now. I had a very clean trip, I stayed down. We were able to get through on the inside and finish up strong, so I can’t complain.”
VICTOR ESPINOZA, MIDCOURT, THIRD AS BEATEN FAVORITE: “He ran a good race. I was following the three (Brown Storm) and he was lugging out, so I tried to keep my distance from him. We had a light bump at the three eighths and my horse lost his stride. He was still running, but not like he has in his best races. He tried hard, but he’s run better than that.”
JOHN SADLER, COMBATANT, WINNER: “Obviously we wanted to run Gift Box. This horse we were considering somewhere else, but I put him in as an insurance policy. He trained really well and it looked like he had no distance limitations to me, so I thought it was a good chance to try him. He’s got some pretty good races on his form. He won his last start at Churchill before he came out here. We put some blinkers on him, did some minor changes, and he has responded well.
“We are lucky enough to have several horses in this division. We have Gift Box, Higher Power, and Combatant. We think there are opportunities for these horses in different races. These are problems we like to have. We like to have a lot of good horses. There’s never a problem having too many horses that can run. We can run them in different spots.”
(On winning three Big ‘Caps): “My parents would bring me to spend time in the Infield and we would have a picnic on the weekend. It’s just great, I can’t explain it, what it means to me. Three different horses and all really top horses.
“My client, Kosta, Stephanie, and Pete Hronis, they really back me. They lead through example and they encourage me all the time, so it’s fun to reward them.”
(On whether Mr. Hronis paid Rispoli a double jock mount) “Yes. He doesn’t know it yet. He does now. Could you let me tell him?”
KOSTA HRONIS, COMBATANT, OWNER, WINNER: “As a little kid coming to the racetrack, we always came to the Santa Anita Handicap. To be in the race is an honor and to win it three times in a row, that is just a tribute to John Sadler and his team. Three different horses three different years. Gift Box got scratched as the 6-5 favorite, so we brought in the 12-1 up and we just win the race. That’s just what he does.
“This is not the easiest track to run, so it takes a while to get used to but this is home now and we figured if we were to give him a shot at a mile and a quarter this would be the place to do it.”
NOTES: The winning owner is Hronis Racing, LLC. Hronis Racing and John Sadler have won the Big ‘Cap for the third consecutive year.