Quotes from the post position draw - Grade 1, $1.25 million Whitney

December 10, 2019

Todd Pletcher, trainer of Coach Inge (No. 8, 15-1) and Liam's Map (No. 4, 6-1): "I thought the post positions were both good. I believe Liam's Map will be forwardly placed. Coach Inge probably went a little too fast in the Suburban, but I thought he ran gamely despite that. To me, tactically, it looks like a real jockeys' race. Interesting strategies here, and I'm sure Mr. Guillot will probably take back and make on run and not tell anyone about it [laughs].

"It concerns me a little bit they both have similar running styles. I think that Liam's Map being on the inside would give Irad on Coach Inge some options to stalk. We [gelded] Coach Inge last fall and it has potentially transformed this horse into a top horse. His race in the Brooklyn where he was able to beat the Travers winner [V.E. Day] was very good and I think he backed it up with arguably a more impressive run in the Suburban, when he went in the same fractions and tried to hold on despite that.

"We're very comfortable where Liam's Map is right now I had a conversation with the owner and we decided to give him a little rest this winter. Ideally we would have liked to have a race before the Whitney. We've been fortunate so far the plan's been falling into place."

Mark Casse, trainer of Noble Bird (No. 3, 5-1): "It took him a while to get his act together. He's running well and he's training very well here. This is quite a race. I don't think the post position is that big of a deal. There is some serious speed and hopefully we can sit right behind it. He likes to sit fairly close to the pace. They need to run along for him to slow down. He's an aggressive horse that likes to get into the race early. It's $1.25 million and a Grade 1. Nothing is easy but I like our chances. I think he should get a good trip. There's horses to run at and I don't think that's going to be a problem. He's been super since he's been here at Saratoga. Some horses like it; some don't. My son, Norman, who's been my main assistant, has been with Noble Bird more than I have actually, and we both have watched him go and we both feel like he gets over Saratoga better than anywhere. "

Donald Little, Jr., President of Centennial Farms, owner of Wicked Strong (No. 9, 20-1): "I think the post is fine. The one thing we were concerned about his last couple of races is how he's been breaking. I think if he breaks clean here and gets a good position the first turn he should do fine. Last time he ran on the turf, and I think Jimmy [Jerkens'] whole plan or idea behind that would be to see how he would run over it. Hard Spuns have been doing well on the grass now. And for whatever reason, the turf-to-dirt angle has seemed to work in the past. But it doesn't take a lot of stuff out of him coming out of a turf race. He's come back strong, his weight is good and he's been eating well. This is where he's had his last victory [G2 Jim Dandy in 2014] and he ran well in the Travers. We're just hoping for a good performance here."

Eric Guillot, trainer of Moreno (No. 5, 12-1): "I don't know how tough it [the field] is. It has "G1" on it; I haven't been in a Grade 1 yet that's been easy in my career."

"In California, there seems to be a lot of sheep and dreamers so they like to take 99- and 50-1s and go 45 [seconds] and change [for four furlongs] going a mile and a quarter .There seems to be a little better class of racing on the East Coast in my opinion."

"He doesn't rate. He gets beat when he rates. That's why I was never more confident like going to West Virginia in the Charles Town Classic. I went in with so much confidence knowing he would be so confused by the three turns and the short stretch. And I couldn't have been more right; he broke the track record."

"He's a 5-year-old [who's had] four years in training with 29 days off. So far, we haven't missed any big dances. Todd's horse looks like he's an up-and-coming nice horse by Unbridled's Song. But there's going to be one problem: If you're in front of me, you went too fast."

On post position: "I got number 5, isn't that the color of money? Is that green?" [referring to the color of the saddle cloth]

Christophe Lorieul, assistant to Christophe Clement, trainer of Tonalist (No. 2, 4-1): "I'm not at all concerned with the post. I think between two and five is what we were looking for. The horse is training wonderful on the Oklahoma and we are going in as confident as we can. The Met Mile, maybe he went a touch too quick. The Suburban I don't think he got the best ride, but the horse ran great and made two moves, which is unusual for him, especially on dirt. We just got beat by a head and I think we should have won that day. But it's behind us and we're trying to look forward to the Whitney."

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