Quotes for the $300,000 Ben Ali (G3)

Apr. 22, 2023

Click here for a replay of the race and the post-race interview with winning connections.

Kenny McPeek (winning trainer of Rattle N Roll)

On Rattle N Roll’s performance between winning Keeneland’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at 2 and running fourth in the March 25 New Orleans Classic (G2) at Fair Grounds to start his 4-year-old season:

“He just needed that run down there at Fair Grounds. He’d been off a while and was a little bit rusty. He didn’t quite get into his run as early. But we’ve kind of been plotting for this race. We thought it would be a really good spot for him.

“There’s a couple of people (who are) the reason we’re standing here: Greg Geier, my assistant at Churchill (Downs) – this is like ‘his boy’ – and Peter Soria, the groom who has handled this horse from the beginning. It’s teammates like that that help us get here. Unfortunately, they don’t get the glory of it all, but Greg Geier and Peter Soria are fabulous horsemen and contribute to this horse’s daily routine more than I do. 

“Peter told me in the Paddock when we were saddling, he said, ‘Kenny, he’ll win today,’ and I said, ‘I like to hear that, Peter,’ because Peter knows. He knows what time he’s done eating – we keep an eye on a lot of those details – and then Greg keeps the routine solid at Churchill. He has a basic routine. It’s not complicated, but his team is rock-solid. They’re like a Swiss watch over there, and it makes my job easy.”

Brian Hernandez Jr. (winning rider)

On navigating through traffic on a horse who comes from well off the pace

“That’s the good thing about this horse. Being fortunate enough to ride him as many times as I have, we’ve learned his tendencies. He’s the type of horse that he doesn’t get in a hurry early, but when he gets in his rhythm you just stay out of his way. He has a known tendency to make an early move, but that’s just him, and if you try to slow him down when he starts to make his move, you just kind of compromise him. So I’ve learned to stay out of his way and let him run his race and leave it up to him. That’s the good thing about riding good horses as well: He was there traveling for me the whole way, so when a little spot would open he was there, and he would turn off and turn on and navigate through traffic like we needed him to.”

Julien Leparoux (rider of runner-up Call Me Fast)

“We had a good race. He improved the way he ran. No excuse, just a good race for my horse.”

Tyler Gaffalione (rider of third-place finisher Pioneer of Medina)

“Everything went to plan. From the inside post, we wanted to be aggressive. He broke alertly and put me in a good spot. He traveled well within hand throughout. Coming in the stretch, he kicked on but was no match for the winner today. The plan really wasn't to be in front, but we wanted to break alertly. He has a tendency to kind of get left in the gate, so we wanted to help him out of there. He's a big, long-striding horse, so I didn’t want to take anything away.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. (rider of fifth-place finisher and beaten favorite Skippylongstocking)

“Perfect trip. The horse felt good, did everything good. The horse that won is a good horse. I think (Skippylongstocking is) better than he showed today. The pace was fast for the distance.”