USA: What the Kentucky Derby connections say

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By Nicholas Godfrey in Louisville
Racing Post

What the Kentucky Derby connections say

TJ Comerford, travelling head man for Aidan O’Brien, trainer of Daddy Long Legs

“The travel is not a problem for him. He takes it all well, it doesn’t bother him. We came over the same way we came last year with Master Of Hounds and he ran well. He’s in good order – he ate plenty and drank plenty on the journey. We got here in less than a day so it was actually quite quick.

“The plan was always to come here so he’s been trained for it. I know the draw is probably not ideal, as people say. We can’t change that, for sure. We’ll do our best from one.
He’s a year older and he was quick away in Dubai – we did plenty with him for Dubai and he was smart away there.

“I don’t know if he’s smart enough for the American way, but he’s definitely a lot better. He’s come on a lot. He was quick away in Dubai and if he’s as quick away here it should be okay.”

D Wayne Lukas, trainer of Optimizer

“It is what it is and I’m a 50-1 shot. I know my horse is doing good but thisis the best bunch I’ve seen in a long time. I was out there riding next to some of them and let’me tell you, this is a hell of a group.”

Pat Byrne, trainer of Take Charge Indy

“I’m very confident in this colt. I know he likes the racetrack, he’s going to run a super race. We couldn’t be any happier with him and I wouldn’t trade him for any other horse in the race. I also love our post – now we’re in the three-hole, we’re going to have an inside trip. Calvin Borel wanted three to eight and we got three. It’s a great spot.”

Michael Matz, trainer of Union Rags

“I’ve had one great horse in Barbaro and I think I might have a second one. It’s a great opportunity and it’s a great feeling to be back here after six years, especially with a horse that has a good chance but he still has to live up to what Barbaro did.

“Barbaro was undefeated, while Union Rags has lost two races by a total of a length and a half. But they’re both big, good-looking, fast and athletic. We’re going to have him run out of there [gate four] a little bit, but that’s not the worst thing in the world.”

Dale Romans, trainer of Dullahan

“He’s been training so eager and we’ve been watching him keep on improving. He gives’me the best chance of winning so far. I don’t think the post was as important for our horse as some of the speed horses but it’s obviously a good spot when the five-hole is one of the winningest post positions in Derby history.”

Bob Baffert, trainer of Bodemeister and Liaison

“Bodemeister is still learning but the right timing has worked out with him. Everything has been pretty smooth, so I can’t complain. Everything is good and he has a chance from his post – I just didn’twant the one-hole. But this is a really competitive field. I’ve brought some really good horses here in the past, some when they were the best horse but they got beat. I don’t want to get myself too pumped up.

“Liaison’s form has tailed off but when he got here I gave him a chance and he likes the track and goes over it great. He still has to really move his game up and when he drew the 20, I got a little bit disappointed. It looks like he’s going to run a big race but it’s whether he’s good enough.”

Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer of Rousing Sermon

“He’s going to be running against a very seasoned, good group of horses but I think he certainly does belong with the group. I think he has a chance to run a very good race and I think he has a chance to win. He’s had no physical or mental problems so far. I think his progress stands on its own. He’s coming to the racein great shape and I know he’ll give’me his best.”

Mike Harrington, trainer of Creative Cause

“The post is perfect – it gives him a chance to get out and get a good stalking position. Depending on the speed, I expect him to three or four lengths off the leaders. That’s the way he runs.”

Shivananda Parbhoo, owner of Trinniberg

“Everybody is thinking he’s going to stop in the Derby, but I don’t think he is going to stop. I can’t see him stopping, even if he gets the lead early. They are all going to be surprised.”

Steve Asmussen, trainer of Daddy Nose Best and Sabercat

“We were extremely fortunate with the draw and love exactly where both of the horses are. Both of these horses have acted well so far and I think we’re in great shape with both horses; we’re excited about the way both horses are coming into the Derby. I definitely feel like Daddy Nose Best and Sabercat are going to show up in the Derby and run the best races of their lives when it matters the most.”

Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Alpha

“He suffered a cut in the Wood Memorial but it has healed up quite well. It took us a couple of days to get over it but we have caught up with his preparation and we are in good shape. It’s hard to be confident going into the Kentucky Derby but Alpha is doing great and we think that he will perform on the day.”

Mark Casse, trainer of Prospective

“He likes this track. He trained 10 days over this track last year before the Breeders’ Cup and loved it. It rained right before the Breeders’ Cup and the track wasn’t the same. I never thought he was a Polytrack horse even though he was winning at Woodbine. He was just better than those horses – and since we got him on dirt, I’ve thought he’s been much better.”

Graham Motion, trainer of Went The Day Well

“I feel like he’s still maturing and he’s got a ways to go, but he’s getting there. It’s very similar to last year with Animal Kingdom. The field is tougher this year, but I really think this horse is coming into the race better than AnimalKingdom.”

Kendall Hansen, owner of Hansen

“We’re going to win this race – we’re not worried about anybody. We have the best horse. Speed is dangerous, and he can go a mile and a quarter. Everybody will find that out.”

Todd Pletcher, trainer of Gemologist and El Padrino

“We purposely laid out a two-race programme for Gemologist, the same as we didfor Super Saver. What’s important is that not only is he undefeated but he’s two-for-two at Churchill. That’s significant as we’ve seen in the past. Not all horses take to this surface. The fact that he’s won twice aroundtwo turns here I think is a big edge.

“A fast pace could benefit a horse like El Padrino, who has been running in races not having the kind of pace you’d like to have. His last two races the fractions have been a little slow.It’s going to help those kinds of horses.”

Ham Smith, trainer of Done Talking

“He’s a professional horse, a pretty nice horse. It’s very exciting to be here – I’m gonna try to enjoy it. This is the first horse I’ve had that warranted coming to the Derby. We are going there to represent Maryland and hopefully we can make a good showing.”

Doug O’Neill, trainer of I’ll Have Another

“He’s just doing great. He has kept his nice stride and seems to love the racetrack. This horse is a stalker and we’ll be outside all the speed so we’ll probably have a good chance to get good position. If they go 46 [seconds] or 47 and change for a half [mile], I’ll feel good. That will put him in position to close strongly.”

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