JC / Railbird

Ahmed Zayat

Espinoza’s Take

Tim Wilkin talks to jockey Victor Espinoza:

Q: You hit American Pharoah with the whip 32 times during the race. There are those who have said that was a bit excessive. Your take?

A: No. I was doing it to encourage him, nothing else. I wanted to encourage him, keep him focused and keep him straight.

Also: Owner Ahmed Zayat is high on Pharoah in advance of the second leg of the Triple Crown. “I think he breathes different air than everyone else … he won the Derby, and I think he’ll be better in the Preakness.”

The Issue Is Timing

Owner Ahmed Zayat on why Eskendereya will start in the Wood Memorial next month, and not the Florida Derby this weekend:

“The main issue is timing,” Zayat said. “I’m not really comfortable off the six weeks. If I’m genuine about the Kentucky Derby, I need to give the prep I want to make sure he peaks on the right day.”


“I think the Wood is coming up a very tough race and I don’t mind that,” Zayat said. “I think this colt will win a Grade 1. Am I missing a Grade 1 [Florida Derby]? I think he’ll get more out of the Wood than the Florida Derby.”

Refreshing, hearing a high-profile connection with a top Kentucky Derby prospect putting an emphasis on prepping to win the race, not merely on getting to the gate. (Or is something else afoot? 3/18/10: No.)

Related: Mike Watchmaker approves of the move. “I have to say, I like it. A lot.”

3/18/10 Addendum: “Fool,” says Paulick.