NORBERTO ARROYO, JR. AIR STRIKE, WINNER: “This horse ran great. It was a basic easy ride from coming off the pace. I give all the credit to God, and Phil who brought the horse ready, I just took him out, he did it all himself. To be honest, it’s not me, it’s God. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past and I’m trying to do things the right way now. When you do the right things, good things happen.”
VICTOR ESPINOZA, CISTRON, SECOND: “That was a tough one. I knew the fractions were fast but he was in charge. I knew that other horse was coming and my horse tried really hard. It’s a tough loss, we just couldn’t hold him off.”
PHILIP D’ AMATO, AIR STRIKE, WINNER: “It looked like it was going to work out on paper. I told Norberto to just let them set the table for you and just come with that big wide run and just keep on em’. He followed instructions to a tee with a great ride and got the job done. We were going to use Prat, but he had the call on Kanthaka (who went in the Daytona Stakes instead) and Joe (Talamo) had the call for Ron Ellis (The Hardest Way), so we were left looking for a jock. Norberto has been breezing a lot of horses for me and I thought he was the kind of rider who could fit this horse. You have to stay on this horse the whole time. With a quarter of mile to go, you have to ride him like you are riding a bicycle. Norberto never stopped. He kept making up ground and we got up at the end.
“He made a huge move that day at Lone Star (Steve Sexton Mile Stakes, Gr. III on April 28), he just petered out that last eighth of a mile so we were left scratching our heads, is he a late running sprinter? Is he a grass miler? And we answered that today.
“He’s got the pedigree, the looks and he just looks like a great horse, he just has to put it all together and Norberto brought him a long way today, hopefully we will keep going forward.
NICK COSATO, SLAM DUNK RACING, WINNING OWNER: “Seriously, when they were going to the gate and he was 22-1, I called a couple of the partners and I said ‘This horse should be half this price!’ He ran great and what can you say about Norberto? He rode a great race.”
NOTES: The winning owners are Madaket Stables LLC, Slam Dunk Racing and Michael Nentwig.