GIOVANNI FRANCO, RIDER OF FAULT, WINNER:  “A lot of jockeys dream to win a Grade I…This means a lot.  We know we have a nice filly and I was just hoping she would run well on the dirt…Coming into the far turn, I had a lot of filly and when I asked her to run, I didn’t want to get her stopped. A lot of jockeys dream about coming to Santa Anita and winning races and we are doing it. It’s a great feeling.”


             RICARDO GONZALEZ, RIDER OF MENDED, SECOND:  “She’s got a lot of heart, she tries so hard. They pushed her early, but she ran hard the whole way. I’m really proud of the way she ran.”




            PHIL D’AMATO, FAULT, WINNER: “Geovanni (Franco) rode a great race. He got her in a good position on the backside and got her in the clear at the three-eighths pole, turned her loose, and I kind of thought right then, this filly can run on the dirt, for sure, and she just didn’t stop.

“We’ll see (what’s next). We’ll take a step back, knowing she can run on both surfaces now, which makes her more dangerous, but this was a very impressive Grade I win and it helps her out tremendously down the road (as a broodmare).”


             MARK MARTNEZ OF AGAVE RACING, FAULT, WINNER: “I didn’t know when I picked her out that she’d be a Grade I winner, but Dave Carman did, who helped me pick her out. That was one heck of a race wasn’t it?

“Dave Carman was actually the guy that brought me into horse racing about 15 years ago. We’re still friends and he always helps me pick out my claims. He tells me when I’m crazy and tells me when I’m on. He’s a great guy and he was here today.”

“Winning a Grade I on the dirt does a lot for residual value but it also does a lot for those of us that invested and believed in her. And, of course a huge thank you to Billy and his team who put some investors on her and obviously they’re very pleased.

“She had been working really well on the dirt at Fairgrounds with the trainer that took great care of her off the claim (in May 2017), Michelle Lovell. When I started to see her work in 47’s and 48’s I knew she had something. When I brought her over I had a talk with Billy and Phil and said can we please keep it in mind.

“We knew she liked the dirt and everyone reported on that which is why she was off at 7/2. Billy and I got together on it and this is where we wanted to go. Phil is always supportive and this is where we landed.

“Just like with her last win, we’ll let the magician decide what’s next.”


            BILLY KOCH OF LITTLE RED FEATHER RACING, FAULT, WINNER:  “Mark sent me about a six page doctorate about how she can run on dirt and how she can run on turf and how he thought she’s only going to get better. He said he thought Phil could do a great job with her.

“I said, ‘yes.’

“The second she came out here she was doing everything right. She trains so well, is so healthy and happy and you can see it. We put a lot of faith in Mark Martinez. He’s one of the sharpest guys in the game and when he came to us we really jumped at the opportunity to work together. To win a Grade I…these don’t come around all that often. We know people will say Unique Bella wasn’t in there or anybody else, but they can’t take anything away from her. She did everything she was supposed to do today. I’m so thankful and blessed for all our partners that joined us on this, especially Mark.”


             NOTES: The winning owners are Agave Racing Stable and Little Red feather Racing.

Fault and jockey Geovanni Franco win the Grade I, $400,000 Santa Margarita Stakes, Saturday, March 17, 2018 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA.