Interview with Victor Espinoza and Alan Sherman

December 10, 2019

Q. Sorry you didn't get the result you were looking for. Tell us how you feel right now. VICTOR ESPINOZA: Well, I think like everybody else. It's not easy, but it's just crazy. I'm always ready for the work, for the best and the worst and today, today I feel like we don't have enough to be able to win this race.

THE MODERATOR: In the Preakness you were able to shift out early in the race, you were inside for the first part of today, did that make a difference? Were you comfortable early on?

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VICTOR ESPINOZA: Well, after the race, you can always look back and think about it, maybe make different, maybe no. I really, I don't think it makes that much difference. It's just I feel like he, he was a little bit empty today.

THE MODERATOR: When did you first start to feel that? VICTOR ESPINOZA: I would say by the five-eighths pole. It's not like before. I'm not sure if it was because -- he swing to the outside, early half a mile and put him in the clear, and I thought it was the best for me. He move out just a little bit, the horse in front of me and he got a little bit intimidated, he's never done that before, that was the first time, I noticed that he got just a little bit shy in there.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Victor, please. Q. Victor, around the 3-16th pole, you were right alongside the winner. VICTOR ESPINOZA: No, I was empty at the three-eighths.

Q. Leading up to it, you said California Chrome looked good, looked healthy, ready to go seemed like 100 percent, today you said in the race it seemed like something was missing. Can you explain that? VICTOR ESPINOZA: Well, that's racing, that's why it's so tough. It's tough to win this race. I wish I could explain it, why, you know, he didn't perform like before but I feel like he was not really like in this race today, I mean, maybe a little bit earlier even when he came out of the gate, for a minute, I thought I was going to let him go in front. I thought it was too much. He was a little bit slow and there was one horse in front of me and I don't want to rush, I thought it was too early to take the lead. One of those things that, you know, sometimes you make the right thing, sometimes not. I feel like California Chrome he was not the same like before. That's why I make my decision to wait a little longer. Before, you know, he's running and he take me right in the race, he helped me. Today, I feel like his energy, he was not the same like before. So that's why I decided just to wait a little bit longer, behind other horses.

Q. Did you sense any of that in the post parade? VICTOR ESPINOZA: No.

THE MODERATOR: We want to go to Alan Sherman. Q. Alan, give us your impression of the race. ALAN SHERMAN: You know, the horse tried hard. It's a long hard ride on these young horses and that's why the Triple Crown is so tough to win. It's just, you know, the horse tried, that's all I can ask for. He took me on the ride of my life, I'll always have that in my heart for that horse.

THE MODERATOR: What did you see in the running of the race as you were watching? ALAN SHERMAN: I thought he was in pretty good shape, I saw when Victor started to squeeze on him a little, he didn't respond like he had in the past. Just, he was just a little wore out, I think.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Alan. Q. Alan, did you talk to your dad? How's he doing? ALAN SHERMAN: Haven't talked to him.

Q. Curious, the fact that he never ran on this track at all a factor that he didn't take to the surface or what? ALAN SHERMAN: I don't know. Victor seemed to think he handled the surface fine.

Q. A lot of people around the country just sort of thought of Chrome as a fairy tale and looked up to him. Do you think he looked so, sort of represented what everybody wanted? ALAN SHERMAN: I think he did. He did for me, that's all that matters, he did for us. Whatever everybody else thinks, it doesn't matter.

THE MODERATOR: Did you get a look at him afterwards? He came out okay? ALAN SHERMAN: He looked fine.

Q. Victor, Tell us how you feel. VICTOR ESPINOZA: Regardless of what happens today, I believe he's one of the best horses I ever rode in my career and I have tremendous, tremendous ride with him, you know, it's just, unexpected, we reach almost to the top, you know. Just one step away to get to the top. You know, it's tough, it's tough for California Chrome to come back three weeks, mile-and-a-half. This race is just tough. And probably one of the horses that can run most of the races, most races than any other horse in the field, the horse is fresh. It's just not easy. But like I said, regardless what happens, we move on and I'm just honored to be with him and have such a nice ride with all his victories that we had with him.

Q. Victor, when do you think we'll see another Triple Crown winner? Will we? VICTOR ESPINOZA: I hope so. This one, the second time, you know what, the last time that I been here, today I don't feel bad because California Chrome, he was, he was just a little bit empty today.

Q. Can a horse win a Triple Crown these days? VICTOR ESPINOZA: I'm sure one of these days, he will. Sooner or later, we need to break this, this bad, you know, karma.

THE MODERATOR: Victor, can you tell us about the conversations you had strategy wise coming into the race and did you ever have thoughts about going straight to the lead? VICTOR ESPINOZA: Yeah, I thought I would let him go. I notice something as soon as he came out of the gate, he was not the same and I was just in my position, I don't want to use him in the first turn because it's a mile-and-a-half. And if you use him in there, I'm going to use like two or three lengths early and for that, I thought it was going to be a nightmare. So when I decide just to stay behind a little bit and I know he was, half mile -- by the five-eighths pole he was empty. I kind of move out to see if he could make a difference, but no.

Q. The nasal strip controversy affect the race at all? VICTOR ESPINOZA: I think it's helping more his nose to get more inside.

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