Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown

Rebel Stakes: What they said

Quotes courtesy of Oaklawn Park following Hoppertunity’s win in Saturday’s Rebel Stakes:

Mike Pegram (owner, Hoppertunity, 1st): “Bob (Baffert, trainer) is in charge and he knows what to do. I’m just having fun being a passenger. He looks like he’ll go a mile-and-a-quarter and I wouldn’t trade places with nobody. He’s a nice horse and he proved it today. What you really want to see is a horse that will fight, and he showed it when he got bumped in there and held his ground. He responded. He’s a fighter. We will run is some Derby. His next race will be a derby if he comes out good out of here.”

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Jimmy Barnes (assistant to Baffert, Hoppertunity, 1st): “That was exciting. Wow. I saw what happened in the race live and I was saying to myself, that kid (Santana, Jr. on Tapiture) is trying to push us out of the way to get by. We had enough horse that he wasn’t getting by. Mike (Smith) said he just started running when he got bumped. That just made him run faster. He’s tough. He’s lightly raced. That was only his fourth race so that was exciting and I’m glad we came. Whether we come back for the Arkansas Derby is up to Bob.”

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Steve Asmussen (Tapiture, 2nd) – “He ran well. It was a pretty roughly run race by some fast horses.”

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Kent Desormeaux (Ride On Curlin, 3rd) – “I tell you, I fancy him. I like him a lot. At the half-mile pole, I thought I could win. The only thing I didn’t like was my post. I think if I had had an outside post, it would have been better. I was kind of committed from where I was. But, he was comfortable. He’s like riding a 9-year-old he’s so cool.”

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D. Wayne Lukas (4th Strong Mandate): “We haven’t been able to get a clean trip yet. We got roughed up more than was indicated. I don’t yet what’s next for him. We haven’t even gotten him cooled out yet. The Arkansas Derby is a month away.”

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Association Steward Larry Snyder on the decision not to change the order of finish after an inquiry and jockey objection: “We based our decision on the fact that Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. on Tapiture pushed his way out from behind the four horse (Strong Mandate) as the horses were straightening out into the stretch. Jockey Mike Smith was just holding his position.”

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