ANDREA ATZENI, TRUE VALOUR, ITALIAN-BORN JOCKEY WINNING HIS FIRST-EVER RACE AT SANTA ANITA. ATZENI IS TAKING A BREAK FROM RIDING IN THE U.K. DURING THEIR SLOWER MONTHS TO EXPERIENCE RACING IN THE U.S.: “I put him in the race too early, he hadn’t run in quite a bit of time so the horse was a little bit fresh and probably got a little bit tired, but today it was keen to speaking to Simon earlier and give him a bit more time through the race and come around late around the outside.
“The win was always going to happen, these things just take time. I’m having a great time here in America. I was going to go back three weeks ago, but I changed my flight to the end of February. This is a good place to be, keeping myself fit with the rides and the people have all been really great to me. Hopefully, I come back here.
“True Valour ran well in his last race, maybe a bit too close to the pace is all. Today, I wanted to give him a chance, keep him to the outside. He jumped ok but I didn’t want to be too close to the pace. Obviously I was keeping an eye on Flavien, on River Boyne, obviously the horse to beat. He picked up when I picked my stick up and was always good enough to win. It went similar to the races I ride in the U.K.
“I’ve had a great time so far, I’ve been placed a lot of times, I just couldn’t manage to get a win in, it was great to get a win today especially for Simon, he’s been very supportive to me and Sheikh Fahad who is not here today, he’s a good friend of mine and of course Matt Nakatani, my agent. He’s been good to me and it’s so great to get a winner. The horse deserves this because he was a pretty good horse in Europe and he was entitled to a win.”
FLAVIEN PRAT, RIVER BOYNE, WHEN ASKED IF HE CONSIDERED CLAIMING FOUL FOR INTERFERENCE IN DEEP STRETCH: “I was going for a hole and it closed right away. I probably should’ve stayed on the fence.”
SIMON CALLAGHAN, TRUE VALOUR, WINNER: “We knew there wasn’t probably not going to be that much speed on, but we had to stick to the plan take our time get him to relax and I just said to Andrea I prefer you to come in late than too early and we held Flavien in in a crucial time and he rode an absolutely perfect race.
(On his Las Virgenes win with, Bellafina) “I think the main track was a little bit sticky today, and Mother Mother never gave us a break the whole way, so I think it was a good performance obviously when you come off such a scintillating win by a length, many people are disappointed, but we are happy to get the win and we’re going to freshen her up for the Santa Anita Oaks.”
NOTES: The winning owner is Qatar Racing, Ltd.