BRICE BLANC, BENCH GLORY, WINNER: “She did great. First time out after a long layoff like this, you never know. She liked the course and she was ready today. She’s super-special. She put me in the race like she always does and came up with that strong kick.”

(In response to what a Frenchman does on St. Patty’s Day.)

“I can’t drink beer, so I guess I’ll have to think of something else to do. Champagne . . . Irish champagne!”

MIKE SMITH, ISMENE, WINNER: “On dirt, I win. You know, dirt’s better. But, she’s (Ismene) so classy, she’ll run over anything. But I think you’ll see the best of her on the dirt. This was the kind of race that I think that she’ll get a whole lot out of. I couldn’t take her back anymore or he (Brice Blanc on Bench Glory) would have caught me sooner to be honest. When she hit the dirt (on the gap from the down hill to the main turf course) she really hit her stride. I think you’ll see the real her next time out.”


SEAN McCARTHY, BENCH GLORY, WINNER: “This would the first one (stakes race) I’ve won here, so it was a great thrill. We pointed for this race when she came back in. She didn’t have any conditions; it was either try this or try for a high claiming spot.

“I liked the way she was training and I know she has some class to her, so we took a shot and got lucky and got it done, so I’m really pleased. I’m really excited. To win a stakes race here at this place . . . when I was a little kid, I’m from Northern California, when you looked at this place, it was the Yankee Stadium.”

On the year layoff: “She just had some issues going on, aches and pains. There were no fractures, no chips, no surgery involved or anything, just a little wear and tear and we decided it’s a good time to give her a break, and they gave her plenty of time. I was going to give her about 60 days or so and we ended up giving her about 120 days, so it worked out great.”

BILL SPAWR, ISMENE, 2-1 FAVORITE, SECOND: “He (Mike Smith) said she’s better on the dirt.”

JOHN HARRIS OF HARRIS FARMS, INC, OWNER OF BENCH GLORY, WINNER: “She’s going strong. It’s always a tough deal in today’s world but you want to try to give every horse every opportunity. We thought we could stop on her and breed her but then we thought we’d bring her back and if she goes alright we’ll keep her going, she did, and it turned out.”

(Bench Glory is by Benchmark out of a Skywalker mare, do you still have her dam?)

“Yes, we do, Image of Glory. We have some foals out of her, she’s been a really good mare. That’s a good cross actually, Benchmarks and Skywalkers, somehow that cross really works. It worked for (Marty) Wygod (prominent Southern California owner/breeder) and I was paying attention, so I thought I would try it too.”

(Some big change is in the wind here in So. Cal and I am sure you will be a big part of it, which is good news for all involved)

“Well, hopefully it’s positive change. There’s a lot to look forward to. It’s a good place to stay, such a nice place to race, and raise horses. We just have to be positive about what we put together.”

NOTES: This is trainer Sean McCarthy’s first stakes win at Santa Anita. Winning owner/breeder John Harris is from Coalinga.