2013 Belmont Stakes after race interviews – Part 3

2013 Belmont Stakes Winners Circle, photo © Cindy Pierson Dulay

This is Part 3 of the New York Racing Associations 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. Can you compare this Belmont to the first you won back in 2007 with Rags to Riches?
TODD PLETCHER: Yeah, I mean, I feel just as excited about this one and for all the reasons I just talked about but you know I felt like to me that Rags to Riches was sort of getting the monkey off your back. Hadn’t won a Classic up to that point, we had opportunities in the Derby, few in the Preakness the Belmont. We hadn’t won one yet. After a little while, it started to build on you a little bit. I felt like it was tremendously exciting but also a relief. This one was just exciting.

Q. Just following up on those questions, Cot, is this Dogwood’s finest hour?
COT CAMPBELL: I wouldn’t be surprised. I don’t know what would beat it. It comes at, you know, what is certainly the twilight of my career, to put it euphemistically. So I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s a race that means a lot to me. I like the tradition of it, and I’ve come to the Belmont many years and, yeah, it’s hot stuff.

Q. Obviously the Derby was a sloppy track in Kentucky. Were you worried it was going to be like this today with the weather we had yesterday?
MIKE SMITH: Early on it was sloppy, they were getting over it pretty good and getting over it well, and with the wind that was going on and the great weather this track dries really quick of course by the sixth, seventh race you could already it was going to be a fast track.

Q. What point during the trip did you feel that he really had the Belmont locked up and knew you were going to win the race?
MIKE SMITH: I’ve been around a long time you don’t have nothing locked you. I love the way he was moving. I liked the way he was doing things. It ain’t locked up. Just for an example, look at last year, I thought it was locked up, get through down on the inside on me. So it ain’t over till it’s over.