GARRETT GOMEZ, VENTURA, Winner: “When she came over the first time she ran down the hill and I told Bobby that by the end of that year I would win a Grade I on her. I think it really surprised Bobby that I came with such words. It wasn’t too much longer, June I think, that she won that Grade I. She’s just been amazing. She’s probably one of the best fillies I’ve ever ridden going a mile. Actually she IS the best filly I’ve ridden going a mile. She has the most explosive turn of foot I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to see her go. I wish she could stick around another year. I actually think she’s better now than she was as a 4-year-old. In a lot of her other races she tried to pull herself up, but today when I asked her to go, she went and accelerated and ran away from them. But she’s got another career in front of her now and hopefully she’ll send some of her babies my way.”
RAFAEL BEJARANO, TUSCAN EVENING, Second: “She ran really good. She made an easy lead, I didn’t really have any pressure. I tried to take the race track, but the winner was just too much. Second best.”
ALEX SOLIS, DIAMONDRELLA, Third: “My filly, she ran a tremendous race. We did what we could but Ventura is just amazing. We chased a champion, what can I say?”
HUMBERTO ASCANIO, VENTURA, winner: “That’s what I want — for him. I wanted this one more — for him. I wish she could stay one more year, but that’s the last call. And that’s why he wanted her in, he knew she was gonna win this one. They wanted to retire her a winner.
“He didn’t say much (about the Breeders’ Cup). He saw the race, the pace was too slow. If I screwed up he might have told me something, but he saw the race and he knew there was no pace in the racae. She ran good, she tried, but there was too much to do.
“I don’t do too much, one half and that was it. Try to keep her happy, that’s all. I didn’t want the leader to get too far in front. I don’t have to tell Garrett (Gomez) anything, because he knows her pretty good, he knows what to do. (What has the weekend been like?) It’s like a dream. Everything is in memory of him.”
GARRETT O’ROURKE, manager of Juddmonte Farms, Lexington: “It was Bobby’s last wish. He said so the Friday before he died, he called me up and I got the feeling it was the goodbye phone call. And he told me that he was scared and what he was going to do, not take anymore of the transfusions. And he paused — that chokes anyone up — then he turned around and said, ‘talk to Humberto, we’re still going with Ventura, right? Just tell him two easy half miles and she will be there.’ He knew he was going in days, and still, it was that important to him.
“Obviously they are all special. Over the years Bobby developed a few favorites. Most of them were fillies and she was definitely one of them. She can be a mean devil and he used to laugh at that because she was all personality and he was all personality, himself.
NOTES: The time of 1:33.58 was a stakes record, eclipsing the mark of 1:33.63 set by Precious Kitten in 2007 . . . Trainer Bobby Frankel won a record eight Matriarchs and a record 17 Turf Festival winners in his Hall of Fame career. In his final days, he recommended delaying Ventura’s retirement so she could start in The Matriarch. She became the second Grade I winner saddled by his longtime assistant, Humberto Ascanio, in two days. Ascanio sent out Fluke to win Friday’s $300,000 Citation Handicap . . . Juddmonte Farms has a record six Matriarch wins.
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