Horses

Trainer Mott loads up for Belmont's Super Saturday

Jockey Jose Lezcano, right, guides Ron the Greek to victory along the rail, edging late-running favorite Wise Dan, left under jockey John Velazquez to win the 31st running of the $400,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (Gr. I) under the lights at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, June 16, 2012. Squeezed out at the wire was front-running Nates Mineshaft and jockey Jesse Campbell.  Photo by GARRY JONES
Jockey Jose Lezcano, right, guides Ron the Greek to victory along the rail, edging late-running favorite Wise Dan, left under jockey John Velazquez to win the 31st running of the $400,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (Gr. I) under the lights at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, June 16, 2012. Squeezed out at the wire was front-running Nates Mineshaft and jockey Jesse Campbell. Photo by GARRY JONES Garry Jones

When it comes to the biggest days of racing, the last thing Bill Mott wants is a lot of extra time on his hands.

"I get excited and I get a little anxious," the Hall of Fame trainer said. "It's nice to stay busy on a day like that."

Idle time need not be among Mott's worries this weekend as his armada will be at the forefront of an aptly dubbed Super Saturday card.

Breeders' Cup implications will be all over both coasts this weekend with 14 graded stakes, including 10 Grade I contests, at Belmont and Santa Anita Park.

In addition to saddling champion Royal Delta in her latest matchup against It's Tricky and five others in the Grade I Beldame Stakes at Belmont, Mott has To Honor and Serve slated for the Grade II Kelso and Starformer in the Grade I Flower Bowl before leading over Grade I winners Flat Out and Ron the Greek in Saturday's headline $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Along with the Grade I Awesome Again (formerly the Goodwood Stakes) at Santa Anita, the 11/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup has drawn some of the top older males in the country who could put themselves in the Horse of the Year discussion.

A win over nine others in the Gold Cup would give 5-2 morning-line favorite Ron the Greek his third Grade I triumph this season to go along with wins in the Santa Anita and Stephen Foster handicaps. The 5-year-old son of Full Mandate has not been worse than second in five starts this year, but he and defending Gold Cup winner Flat Out were both defeated by the Ian Wilkes-trained Fort Larned in the Grade I Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 4.

"Ron continues to do well, he's just one of those horses that maintains his condition," Mott said. "He looks good, he's moving well, his works are consistent with what we saw earlier in the year. He's not a real flashy work horse, more workmanlike, I suppose. But he's a beautiful horse with a great constitution and he always seems to give you plenty in the afternoon.

"He's been just a real dream to have in that regard."

Winless in six starts since last year's Gold Cup, Flat Out is also seeking his first victory since being transferred from Scooter Dickey to Mott earlier this year. The 6-year-old son of Flatter has proven he loves Belmont — scene of both his Gold Cup and Suburban Handicap wins last year.

"That's got to be a bonus any time you've got one running on any particular track, if they've already been a dual winner there," Mott said.

Mott finished second last year in both the Gold Cup and Beldame with Drosselmeyer and Royal Delta — and each came back to take the Breeders' Cup Classic and Ladies' Classic, respectively.

The even-money favorite in the Beldame this time around, Royal Delta won the Grade II Fleur de Lis and Delaware Handicap this summer but is still seeking her first Grade I win of 2012 having run second to Love and Pride in the Personal Ensign on Aug. 26.

"Frankly, it's a race I'd like to get on my résumé as well as hers," Mott said of the Beldame. "It's a race I have never won. I've run in it with three of my (Ladies' Classic) winners, and each has been beaten. Royal Delta was second in it; Unrivaled Belle was second and she won the Breeders' Cup; and Ajina was second and she won the Breeders' Cup. So ... I'd love to win it, but if I'm second, maybe it's OK."

  Comments