The horse racing industry is unlike any other, as post-race interviewees can get up close and personal with every star jockey after their big win. Unlike in other sports where performers can recompose themselves before talking to the media, that just isn’t the case in horse racing.
Instead, fans are treated to raw moments of emotion that pull on their heartstrings and enable them to get closer to the sport that they follow. But, what are some of the best modern quotes from trainers and jockeys in years gone by?
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Victor Espinoza went into the 2015 Kentucky Derby as the previous edition-winning jockey. Being one of the jockeys in the list of Kentucky Derby winners and payouts by TwinSpires.com is already a big privilege.
However, every racing fan would have remembered where they were when they watched something sensational happen in 2015 at Churchill Downs. American Pharoah for Bob Baffert was the story heading into the race, and he would be the star coming out of the Kentucky Derby.
Espinoza was interviewed after winning the famous race for the second year running and simply admitted that he felt ‘like the luckiest Mexican on earth”.
His story is one that touched the hearts of all racing fans, as he was the eleventh of 12 siblings, and took a job at a dairy farm to fund his dream to be a jockey. He is also a leading light for future jockeys, as he donates 10% of all winning to City of Hope, which is a cancer research charity.
Of course, that wouldn’t be the end of Espinoza’s luck with American Pharoah, as the three-year-old would become the first Grand Slam champion, adding the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2015.
The Grand National is one of the most prestigious races in the world and is watched by over 600 million people in 140 countries. However, in the 182 years leading up to the 2021 Grand National, no women had ever come close to winning the illustrious race at Aintree.
Last year’s race will be one that lives long in the memory of those that watched it, as Rachael Blackmore smashed through the glass ceiling once more on the hollow turf, as she won the big prize. She was excellent on Minella Times in the race and was able to run clear towards the line to claim the famous win.
After the race, she said: “I don’t feel male or female right now. I don’t event feel human’. It was the sheer size of the achievement that she had accomplished that just left her dumbstruck.
History is something that the Irish jockey continues to make throughout her career.
She became the first female jockey to end the Cheltenham Festival as the leading jockey before the Grand National, and made more history when becoming the first female to win the Gold Cup when onboard A Plus Tard in 2022.
Bob Baffert has been one of the big stories leading into the 2022 Kentucky Derby this year, which makes his quote a couple of years ago even more questionable. He was remarked as saying ‘I want to have a positive influence on the sport of horse racing’.
Many fans would laugh at that statement now given the amount of mud that he has dragged the industry through over the past 12 months at the very least. Baffert will be unable to enter horse at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby this year after Medina Spirit’s failed drugs test after winning the race 12 months ago.
He continued to plead his innocence, and was able to run Medina Spirit in both the Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic. However, heartbreakingly Medina Spirit passed away following a heart attack in the lead up to her four-year-old season. Baffert was officially banned for a couple of months earlier this year; something that he is still attempting to fight. Meanwhile, Medina Spirit was disqualified from the Kentucky Derby and Mandaloun was upgraded as winner of the race 12 months ago.
Frankie Dettori has ridden some of the most incredible horses throughout his legendary career. However, for him, one ranks higher than the rest. He said: “I love horses, but I love Enable more than the rest” in July 2019. Dettori had an extremely special relationship with the mare for trainer John Gosden, and she delivered on some of the biggest days for him.
In total, she took home nearly £11 million in prize money during her career, which included victories in the King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes on three occasions, two September Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks on two occasions.
However, her most famous victories came in France, as she won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on two occasions. She was narrowly denied a third success in the race was second behind Waldgeist, but she retired in 2020 as a hero to all racing fans.