2013 Belmont Stakes after race interviews – Part 1

The New York Racing Association had an interview session with the connections of 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice after the race. Present were trainer Todd Pletcher, Cott Campbell representing owners Dogwood Stables, and of course, jockey Mike Smith.

Q. Could you explain what the difference today was compared to the Derby? You went so fast in the Derby and then today he was able to relax more?
TODD PLETCHER: Well, I think the real key, he was relaxed. It was actually, I thought, for a Belmont, pretty keenly run, first part of the race. But the main thing was, Mike was able to get him to a real comfortable rhythm. The horse had trained really impressively, and we just felt if we could get him into that rhythm, get him relaxed, it wouldn’t necessarily matter if he was on the lead, fourth, fifth. Wherever he was, it wouldn’t matter as long as Mike had him in that big gallop he had.

Q. Mike, you’ve [won or hit the board] in the last four Belmonts you’ve ridden in. You got two wins during that stretch. I mean, is experience some you really need to excel in this race? Did you figure some things out in your career to do so well at this point in your career in the Belmont?
MIKE SMITH: Experience and extremely talented horse. I was just blessed, again, to be part of it and to have ridden so many years in the Belmont. I think Gary Stevens put it best when he said, it’s like the ocean. You can get lost, if you don’t know it. And these are my waters. I know where the fish are at.

Q. For Mike, can you tell us as you got toward the end of the backstretch, you know, and you’re still tracking those horses, you know, what you saw from Oxbow, and I understand there was an exchange between you and Stevens. I’d like to you elaborate on.
MIKE SMITH: Yeah, I was just keeping a close eye on him. He wasn’t going to try and — would be able to steal it at some point. Gary is known to do stuff like that. You know, I was keeping a close on eye on him. I felt I was moving better. When I ranged up next to him, it was like a movie scene. He looked over to me. I could see his face clear as day. He says, “hey go on little brother, you’re moving better than me. Just ride off your win. Don’t leave me yet.”
And I won. He ran second. You couldn’t have written this script any better.