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Road to the Derby Kickoff Day Stakes Quotes

For Immediate Release
Media Contact:

James J. Mulvihill
Fair Grounds Communications and Pari-Mutuel Marketing Manager

 Road to the Derby Kickoff Day Stakes Quotes

Race 1-Grade III, $200,000 Lecomte Stakes
3-year-olds, One milea nd 70 yards, 69th running

Jockey Jon Court (Oxbow, winner): "I actually thought I'd be one-two-three, but Wayne said don't be surprised if you find yourself on the lead. He just said to be relaxed and he wanted to see him happy with a smile on in the bit and he can win this race and that's exactly how it turned out."

"Where he goes from here is up to Brad Kelley and Wayne Lukas, of course, but I did see this horse progress from the first time I got to ride him. In fact, the day he won I told Joe Rocco Jr. that this horse has really improved a lot and I wish I could be on his back. I said, ‘You are going to really like him' and he went on to win. As I mentioned, the progression he's made in his training and in his races shows that he's continued to pursue the prestigious levels so we'll see where he goes from here."

Trainer Wayne Lukas (Oxbow, winner): "You guys [the media] didn't even know he was in the race, did you? If you had to make a living handicapping you'd all starve to death.

"When Jon gets back here tomorrow I'm going to make him give half the mount money back because he didn't have to do anything. All he had to do is hang on.

"There is a certain amount of wisdom that he handled the surface well and shipped well, so that gives us another option. You like to see a horse handle the situation that you put him in. We took all the worst of it with shipping in yesterday and taking on your local guys all coming out of their own stalls and having works over the racetrack. So we took all of the worst of it today and still got along pretty good. Now we're a little tighter and in a little better shape if we come back to the Risen Star."

"This horse has a beautiful stride and a high cruising speed. When you watch the replay you see his ears are pricked and he's just in a cruising speed the whole way around there."

Brian Hernandez Jr. (Golden Soul, second): "We were between horses the whole way, although he's one of the rare few that's able to handle being between horses the whole time. When I squeezed on him he picked it up nicely; the winner was just a little more seasoned and a little bit better horse today. We ran a nice second. He finished good and I think the distance will help him. The further they go the better he'll get. And it's only his third start so to step up like he did in the Lecomte, there's no denying he's a good horse."

Trainer Dallas Stewart (Golden Soul, second): "I thought he finished great. It was a slow pace and he finished well. We were second today but we'll take that."

Were you pleased enough to run back in the Risen Star next month? "I hope so. As long as he comes out of this in good shape that's the way we're headed."

NOTE: The Lecomte is part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series, a 36-race series awarding points to the top four finishers in each race, with the point totals used to determine spots in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. The Lecomte is worth 17 points: 10 to the winner, four to the runner-up, two to the third-place finisher and one to the fourth-place finisher. Therefore, Oxbow earned 10 points, Golden Soul earned four points, Fear the Kitten earned two points and Ive Struck a Nerve earned one point. Only Oxbow had previously earned points entering the Lecomte, with one point for his fourth-place finish in the Grade I CashCall Futurity, and now has 11 points total...Lukas won this race in 1998 with Western City.

Race 0 - $125,000, Silverbulletday Stakes
3-year-old fillies, One mile and 70 yards, 21st running

Jockey James Graham (Touch Magic, winner): "She did everything right. When I worked her over this track a couple of weeks back she went really well and finished really strong. She did again today. Perfect trip. Finished off and galloped out good."

Trainer Pat Devereux Jr. (Touch Magic, winner): "She hasn't done anything wrong and she still hasn't. It seemed like the better she settled the better she run and I think there is better in there."

Were you confident she would handle one mile and 70 yards? "I wasn't sure. She worked like she would and, you know, that's what you hope. We've had her a month, which isn't a very long time. She came through.

"We knew who was going to ride her before we got off the van that's a good feeling too. I'm really happy about that."

Will the Feb. 23 Gr. III Rachel Alexandra be next? "Still remains to be seen how often we are going to run her because she is still growing and filling in. This win was great. No one ever showed so much confidence in me that the Myers bought her and we've still got to prove ourselves so we'll try to make the good moves. We'll try to do what's smart."

Owner Keith Myers (Touch Magic, winner): "We were looking for a good 2-year-old filly, turning three, that we thought could get us to the Fair Grounds Oaks. We looked at 10 fillies and had different conversations. This filly was Pat's first choice.

"She travels well. She got here today, walked off the van and took a nap."

Jockey Jesus Castanon (Gal About Town, second): "She finished up a little tired. The winner came after me and snuck up on the inside and I think if she would've been a little closer to me an my filly she might've lost the fight. This filly's going forward and there's nothing but good ahead for this filly. She was a lot more relaxed today in the beginning of the race. The first sixteenth she was a little rank but once I took her back she was fine. She gave a good effort."

Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Smitten, third): "I got an 11-hole kind of a trip. Just being far back and there were a lot of sprinters in that race and not everyone was moving around the second turn so I had to go around. But my filly really moved forward and she finished really well to get so close. I thought I'd win it at a point but we didn't make it."

Trainer Larry Jones (Smitten, third): "It was fine for us. This filly breaks slow so when we drew the 11 I wasn't worried about the post because I knew we'd slide over and save ground. But she's getting it figured out more all the time. Those others were far more precocious than her and this filly had a lot of ground to make up on numbers to get to their level, but we felt like she was showing us improvement and deserved this try. I'm treal proud of her the way it turned out. She's got black type on her now and she's gaining on them. It's a long time before the end of March and the beginning of May."

Trainer Dallas Stewart (Irish Lute, fourth): "She stumbled coming out of the gate and I think that cost her a position or so. She ran hard, she's a fighter, and she came out of it good even though she stumbled."

NOTE: The Silverbulletday is part of the "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" series, a 35-race series awarding points to the top four finishers in each race, with the point totals used to determine spots in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. The Silverbulletday is worth 17 points: 10 to the winner, four to the runner-up, two to the third-place finisher and one to the fourth-place finisher. Therefore, Touch Magic earned 10 points, Gal About Town earned four points, Smitten earned two points and Irish Lute earned one point. Touch Magic had four points from her runner-up finish in the Grade III Delta Princess and now has 14 points. Gal About Town had eight points from runner-up finishes in two Grade II events, the Golden Rod and the Pocahontas, and now has a total of 12. Seaneen Girl, who was scratched form the Silverbulletday, entered the day second in the standings with 14.

Race 8 - $100,000 Louisiana Handicap
4-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles, 67th running

Jockey Miguel Mena (Infrattini, winner): "My boss told me don't rush him and get a good break. You know, the two and the one horse went to the lead and we were sitting being patient.

"This horse keeps getting better and better. Unfortunately, I didn't ride him last time, I was out of town. But, I am thankful enough for Paul getting me on the horse and today, for me, is his best race."

Trainer Paul McGee (Infrattini, winner): "We thought we'd give him a little time after that race at Churchill and it looks like it worked out good. We gave him two months between races and he was fresh today and ready to go. I think it paid off for us to wait on this race. Now he has won four in a row at four different tracks.

"He was a good 3-year-old and a better 4-year-old and now he is even better as a 5-year-old but I think some of that is his breeding; Include says he might be a good older horse going long.

The Feb. 23 Gr. III Mineshaft Handicap next? "I don't know. We'll see. I'll get with the Zlakets and we'll come up with a plan."

Owner Mike Zlaket of Z Thoroughbreds LLC (Infrattini, winner): "I spent 20 years in the sporting goods industry and, believ it or not, I used to work at racetracks a long time ago, at Bay Meadows and a little track in South Texas called Bandera Downs. We've owned and bred racehorses on a small scale for 12 or 13 years, mostly out in California. We hooked up with Paul going back to the beginning of this horse. We had bought the mare, gave the foal over to Paul, and you can see from the results he's done a great job. He's very patient and has had him in the right spots. You're looking at half our stable, and the other half is back in the barn.

"It's an old cliché but you take them one at a time because you just don't know on any given day, but if the horse stays sound and stays at this level we'll be looking for all of the big ones, at this distance. I think he like a mile and a sixteenth. He exploded at a one-turn mile. We might very well be back here in a month and if not we'll take a look at something in early March."

Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Mark Valeski, second): "It was a great effort. He's been off for a long time and that's a really nice horse that beat him. This will set him up for his next race very well.

"He feels great since he's come back. We never really got to test him to see just how good he was last year but we should be able to see this year how far he's able to go because he's in pretty good shape."

Trainer Larry Jones (Mark Valeski, second): "It was a great effort on the horse's part, and that other horse just broke the track record at Churchill so you know he's good. It's disappointing to us, yeah, because we wanted to win.

"Mark coming in second at Fair Grounds? Yeah, I can see that. He's starting to make a habit of this. But it was a great effort first-time out and you could tell he was really tired; when he came back it took him a long time to get back. He was needing to catch his breath."