As trainer Rodolphe Brisset was preparing Quip for his career debut in Kentucky during the early fall of 2017, the former jockey was also getting on a 2-year-old son of Scat Daddy that soon would be bound for trainer Bob Baffert's Southern California stable and unforeseen glory.
Quip, who will return from a nine-month layoff in Saturday's $100,000 Hal's Hope Stakes at Gulfstream Park, went on to capture his debut as well as the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), while the Scat Daddy colt, Justify, went on to sweep the 2018 Triple Crown.
||Tale of Silence
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|George Arnold, II
|Edward Plesa, Jr.
||Brian Hernandez, Jr.
"We had Justify before Mr. Baffert got him in November when he was 2 in 2017. We had him for three of four months," Brisset said. "It was fun having him around us."
Brisset trains Quip for WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and SF Racing, who were also the principles in the Justify ownership group.
"Now I have to find one myself. It was fun to be involved in the beginning. We have a close relationship with the ownership, WinStar, China Horse Club and SF Racing. We did what we did at the beginning. We got lucky enough to have the horse around us," Brisset said. "It was fun to watch. We were at every race he ran. We were at the Derby; we were at the Preakness and we were at the Belmont. It was fun to be able to see."
The 35-year-old Brisset, a former longtime assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, had the opportunity to saddle Quip for a start in the Preakness, in which he faded badly while Justify kept his Triple Crown hopes alive with a half-length decision over Bravazo over a sloppy Pimlico track.
Brisset, who was a jockey, a jockey agent and an assistant trainer in his native France before venturing to the U.S. to become Patrick Biancone's assistant in 2007, shies away from taking any credit for undefeated Justify's success
"We had no idea what he would become. I have said again and again, you would be lying if you said we knew that he was going to do what he did. The only thing, I can say is that he was a gorgeous 2-year-old. He always trained forward and it was a pleasure to be around him," said Brisset, who went out on his own in 2017 after nearly 10 years as Mott's assistant. "What we saw when he was 2 really translated into the same when he was 3. I think he was very classy. He was a natural."
Quip, who finished second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) prior to his start in the Preakness, is scheduled to face eight rivals in the Hal's Hope, a one-turn mile stakes for older horses. The son of Distorted Humor, is rated second in the morning line at 4-1 behind 2-1 favorite Breaking Lucky. Jose Ortiz is named to ride Quip for the first time Saturday.
Namesake's Success Makes Mitchell Proud
Trainer Anthony Mitchell went along with owner/breeder Richard Otto's plan to name a horse after him...with one stipulation.
"OK, but make it a good one," Mitchell told his longtime client with whom he enjoyed a successful trainer/owner association, primarily in Illinois.
Otto obliged Mitchell by naming a son of Mineshaft and the Smart Strike mare Mourette `Sir Anthony.'
The Illinois colt had shown promise from the start, winning his debut and finishing a close second in a stakes during his 2-year-old season, but it wasn't until the second half of 2018 that he realize his potential by winning four straight races, winning the Bruce D. Memorial at Arlington Park in August and completing his 3-year-old season by winning the Harlan's Holiday at Gulfstream Dec. 15.
"He did run some decent races early on. As a 2-year-old he was second in a stake, beaten in a photo. But in his past, before the Bruce D., his form was a little muddy," Mitchell said. "After the Bruce D., he has kind of matured into the horse we thought he'd be when he was a 2-year-old. It just took a little time to come into himself."
In the Harlan's Holiday, Sir Anthony pulled off a 25-1 upset over heavily favored 2018 Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible by a half-length.
"It was very gratifying because of all the hard work that goes into developing a racehorse. People see horses on the track and see them win big races, but a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes," Mitchell said. "This horse, we did break and brought him along. It's very gratifying."
Sir Anthony will seek to pull off another upset in Saturday's $100,000 Hal's Hope at Gulfstream over a dirt surface that the versatile ridgling may well prefer.
"To be absolutely honest, I think he's a better horse on dirt," Mitchell said. "He ran a bang-up race in the Springfield and he ran a bang-up race in the Bruce D [over Arlington's synthetic surface], but I do think he's a better horse on dirt."
Brian Hernandez Jr. has the return mount on Mitchell's namesake.