IN A THRILLER, GIFT BOX DEFEATS McKINZIE BY A NOSE IN GRADE I, $600,000 SANTA ANITA HANDICAP; RIDDEN BY ROSARIO, HE GIVES SADLER HIS SECOND BIG ‘CAP VICTORY IN A ROW, COVERING 1 ¼ MILES IN 2:03.02 ON A STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL AFTERNOON, HUGE PERFORMANCES IN THE SANTA ANITA DERBY & THE BIG ‘CAP WOW AN ON-TRACK CROWD OF 30,713 ARCADIA, Calif. (April 6, 2019)–On a stunningly beautiful day at Santa Anita, the 82nd running of the iconic track’s signature race for older horses, the Grade I, $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap, developed into a thrilling stretch battle between the two principles in today’s affair, John Sadler’s Gift Box and Bob Baffert’s McKinzie. In the end, it was Joel Rosario and Gift Box by a nose over Mike Smith and McKinzie, with the gray Gift Box stopping the clock in 2:03.02 for a mile and a quarter.With longshot Prime Attraction showing the way into the Club House turn, Gift Box and McKinzie were in close attendance, no more than a length and a half off the early lead. Mid-way around the far turn, Rosario, who had his mount well in-hand, cruised to the lead past Prime Attraction a quarter mile out and was immediately engaged to his outside by McKinzie.From the three sixteenths pole home, it was a classic head and head battle that had all 30,713 on-track fans enthralled and yes, if even for a couple minutes, maybe far removed from the weight of an onslaught of bad news primarily wrought by a wet winter.“It was a good race,” said Rosario. “He broke perfect out of there and John told me to keep him close and when he wants to go, maybe follow someone…It was a good race turning for home. I knew McKinzie was coming for us in the last part…He showed a lot of heart today and I have to thank Hronis Racing for the opportunity and to John.”For Sadler and owner Hronis Brothers Racing, LLC, it was their second Big ‘Cap win in a row, having won it last year with eventual Older Horse of the Year Accelerate.Originally based in New York, Gift Box, a 6-year-old horse by Twirling Candy, out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Special Me, had been idle since his first Southern California start, a half length win in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles San Antonio Stakes on Dec. 26.“This is very special,” said Sadler. “I grew up with this race, to win it two years in a row is incredible. I came here as a kid with Lou Rowan (owner/breeder and original board member of the Oak Tree Racing Assoiciation) when Quicken Tree won the Big ‘Cap (1970), so it means a great deal to me.“Joel rode a great race, you could see he had a lot of horse around the turn and he was just sitting on him. To beat a top horse like McKinzie in a photo like that…We needed it because we lost that tough photo last week (with Catapult, who was beaten a nose by longshot Ohio in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile). This was the plan when we bought this horse and it happened. We couldn’t be happier.”Off as the 2-1 second choice in a field of six, Gift Box, in his first Grade I win, paid $6.20, $2.40 and $2.20. With the winner’s share of $355,000, he hiked his earnings to $879,160 and improved his overall mark to 15-5-5-2.For his part, McKinzie lost nothing by way of stature in defeat as he was 3 ¾ lengths clear of longshot Mongolian Groom. Off as the 2-5 favorite, 4-year-old McKinzie, who carried top weight of 123 pounds while spotting the winner one pound, paid $2.10 and $2.10.Ridden by Geovanni Franco, Mongolian Groom, off at 53-1, paid $3.40 to show.Fractions on the race were 24.24, 49.03, 1:13.70 and 1:38.37.Although Baffert was denied his sixth Big ‘Cap win, he took his record ninth Grade I Santa Anita Derby two races earlier, as Roadster upset his stablemate Game Winner by a half length in a thrilling stretch run that barring something unforeseen, should propel both colts to center stage in next month’s Kentucky’s Derby.Racing resumes with a nine-race card on Sunday. First post time is at 1 p.m. and admission gates open at 11 a.m.
Simeone appeared in the flash interview from Movistar LaLiga to give his first impressions on the agonizing triumph of Atlético against Granada. Triumph very suffered: “In the last League games we could not respond accordingly to what the team had been demonstrating, there was a lot of weight in the match, but the players solved it and I am very happy about it.”Koke came back, with an assist: “Yes, I’m happy for him and for the team. We were very agile for the first 25 minutes, we left very well, with pressure and presence in the rival field, but then we backed off and they started to grow. They are very good, they showed it, comes from moving to the semifinals of the Cup and they gave us a fight until the end. When you need to win, the minutes run slower. “Support hobby. “The people thing is extraordinary, they fill you with responsibility, with the need to get involved.”The next game, Valerncia, is Atlético alive in LaLiga? : “We are working and we are improving little by little”.In press conferenceSimeone: “The need to win sometimes makes you go back”-What is the game?There are quite a few positive things. We came from a not good time and we needed to win. That always generates responsibility, rather than pressure. We found an extraordinary stadium, gave us energy and the people of Atlético are behaving as in almost all their history, being close to their players, the club and understanding the needs of the team, encouraging. That generated 30 very good minutes, the start was important, we could play the game we wanted. From 30 we start to back off. In the second half, the need, the vertigo makes you go back… There were not many occasions, but there was a sense of danger because we didn’t solve our attacks, except Saul’s.-Correa remains the scorer.He speaks for himself, but beyond the goal, I see his work. It’s amazing, you can play in the band, forward … Beyond playing better or worse, you will never stop putting heart and we need that.-The difference between the first and second half is trust?First because the opponent began to grow, it was placed in our field, stealing, generating vertigo … When you fail a kickback, another, another, the minutes pass and you want to win. The team goes back and we had to defend ourselves in our field.-There were only two strikers on the list.And Lemar, and Ricard in B … There were people to occupy that place. We had Ivan (Saponjic), Lemar, Carrasco, Ricard …-They were legs or tension.The start was as we looked for it. The arreón, causing errors … In those 25-30 minutes it was seen that the team could hurt. Then there was a team that needed to win and had that responsibility …– Does the streak of injuries have an explanation? The first person responsible for everything that happens in the team is me. We have 16 injuries, counting Costa’s hernia, João’s ankle … Last year there were 45 and we finished seconds, it’s no excuse.– Koke returned and the team has won.Several things made me happy about him. His start of the game, the support of the people to a very important player who ended up healthy, that’s what made me the most happy.Diego Martínez: “The team did everything to score and could not be”-The 1-0 so soon has conditioned everything …In a field like this and before a strong team, error penalizes you a lot. We made one, we fit and the game went uphill. In the second part we had a lot of personality, we went boldly, we risked that they could score us against one, but the team is to be proud. Then came the Oblak stop. And it would have been a good brooch. The team did everything and could not be.– Soldier says they “don’t let them play” for the cards.I focus on the game, they are sensations from within, from the players. The team has tried until the end, has readjusted situations and with a goal against it got complicated. This is a game and it’s your feelings.-With three plants it has been better. Does that system convince you?We have been using it since last year, not based on the result but on what the party demands. With the goal against we were not adjusting well inside. In the second half, beyond the system, there was continuity between the lines, we recovered in the opposite field, we were able to get in, although with poor quality and little success, but there was the game where we wanted.-He surprised the initial eleven. Have you conditioned the Cup a lot?The eleven is to try to win based on our feelings. There are fatigue, players with a lot of accumulation and we can not lose players. We try with the data we have to make the eleven that brings us closer to winning and adjustments are made.– Aaron will be the goalkeeper in San Mamés?I don’t usually give alignments. We wanted to see Aaron in this context and so we have the two goalkeepers ready. We are with 30 points and in the semifinals.-Is it difficult to play without thinking about the Cup?I hope it does not affect, but we have to feed on the illusion and positive energy, I stay with the mental strength. If Atleti gets 2-0, the game is broken, but we’ve been inside for 90 minutes. We have missed that goal.-What do you think of the image?Very proud of the team. Come to Wanda before an Atletico and give this level, being at all times in the game, although with little success … They were better in the first part, but we have had personality and we are incorporating players for the cause before what comes to us.-Valóremos a Gil Dias.Everything you do is positive. He has been with us very little, he has barely trained and I thank him for his predisposition. Hopefully as soon as possible.– Is it the way to face the Cup?We won, enthusiasm and motivation we also had in the first part, but the Atleti was better. When you play against level rivals, there are factors at play and you don’t have to make mistakes.