RAFAEL BEJARANO, FOREVER DARLING, WINNER: “I had a good position from the beginning. I knew that one of Baffert’s horses would try to go straight to the lead so I just tried to figure out which one. I saw Martin (Garcia) go with Pretty N Cool and I knew she was the horse to beat, so I put us in right behind them and went from there. I knew pressure was coming by the three-eighths pole and I just tried to keep going.
“I don’t think she wants to go two turns yet. I think she would like six, six and a half, seven, but the Breeders’ Cup was too tough for her. I thought she was so much better today, running six-and-a-half.”
RICHARD BALTAS, FOREVER DARLING, WINNER: “We thought she displaced in the Breeders’ Cup and we found she had an ulcer on her soft palate when we did surgery on her. This race didn’t come up as tough as I thought for a Grade II, but I’m so grateful to win, because I own a share of her.
“He (Bejarano) had to ride her hard, but she just fought it out. She has a lot of determination and you can’t teach that to a horse. I’m just glad that I own a piece of her and I train her. It’s just a great day for me.”
MANNY BADILLA, CODE WARRIOR, SECOND: “She ran huge. We’re going to hit the (California) Oaks next at Golden Gate (Feb. 6). It’s a mile and a sixteenth and it’s our last shot with those fillies up there. We’ll be back down here again soon, no doubt.”
NOTES: The winning owners are Richard Baltas of Los Alamitos; A.C. Hebert of Vinton, LA; and John Manni of Henderson, NV, who runs as J K Racing, LLC. Each owns a third.