ALEX SOLIS, ALPHIE’S BET, WINNER: “Today, he was very light on his feet. He was a much sharper horse, but he’s so big, he’s so heavy, when he comes out of the gate, it takes him a while to get into stride. The way he ran today didn’t surprise me at all. The first time I rode him (Dec. 26), I came back and told Alexis I think he can run all day. Alexis used to work for (the late) Eddie Gregson and they had a horse back then named Candi’s Gold. I told her this horse reminds me a lot of him; he’s big, strong and he’ll run any distance. To be honest, I try not to think too far ahead. I just pray to God he stays healthy.”

RAFAEL BEJARANO, SETSUKO, SECOND: “I had no excuse. My horse was very comfortable in good position, but when I saw No. 10 (winner Alphie’s Bet) move from the three-eighths, I saw that he had a lot of horse. So I tucked in behind him. My horse made a good move, but he doesn’t have a quick turn of foot in the stretch. That’s why that other horse beat me. He can come on running quickly.”

MIKE SMITH, NEXTDOORNEIGHBOR, SEVENTH AT 4-1: “He was a little fresh. He was a little too sharp with the race not having been able to be run last week. But he acted like he really needed it. So hopefully he’ll improve off of it.”

BRICE BLANC, KETTLE RIVER, EIGHTH AT 7-2: “He never got into the race at all. He had gotten sick, and it kind of took a little bit of an edge off of him.”


ALEXIS BARBA, ALPHIE’S BET, WINNER: “He was a little bit closer than I thought he’d be. I was pleased to see it, actually. I was pleased to see that he got into the race a little earlier than his last race, in which he was kind of pinched back a little bit. So it was nice to see him closer, instead of that horrifying last place at the quarter pole. I wasn’t concerned at all (going from grass to Pro-Ride). He’d already run on this dirt (synthetic) course in that Cal-bred stakes (second on Dec. 26), so we already knew that he liked it. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with this horse yet (for his next race). We’re going to discuss it and then we’re going to let you know after we figure it out.”

NOTES: The winning owners are Peter Johnson Sr. and Theresa McWilliams of Santa Barbara.