Photo: NYRA/Adam Conglianese
Bill Mott has a quartet of grade one
winners that should win a lot of races in the handicap divisions this summer. The
four of them have won over $5 million and 11 graded stakes races.
The filly Royal Delta was part of Mott’s Breeders’ Cup Classic-Classic double
with Drosselmeyer. That victory earned her the 2011 Eclipse Award for three
year-old fillies. In the mean time she sold at the 2011 November Keeneland sale
for $8.5 million, but she has stayed in Mott’s care. She ran second in the
Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream in her 2012 debut. That race was a prep for her trip to run in the March 31st
Dubai World Cup against the boys. Royal Delta finished there, but she appears
to have recovered quickly from the difficult trip. Trainer Bill Mott commented
that, “She’s just started up galloping.
She’s been tack-walking and jogging, and she got to feeling so good I
had to start training her. I can’t hardly hold her on the ground.”
Mott got Ron The Greek back winning in November with a victory in the Sunny
and Mild Stakes at Aqueduct to which he added the Queens County and then the
Santa Anita Handicap (G1). Most
recently he ran second to Alternation in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2). Mott has
Ron The Greek aimed for the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs.
A recent acquisition for Mott was Flat Out. Last year’s Jockey Club Gold
Cup (G1) and Suburban Handicap (G2) winner did not win in two tries at
Gulfstream this winter for Scooter Dickey. “The earliest he would be ready is
the Suburban on July 2nd,” Mott said. “That would be the earliest
possible, and that might not be giving him enough time. He had a little
Back in January I did a Point/Counterpoint
with Brian Zipse about who would be the breakout star for 2012 and being a huge
Bill Mott fan, I selected To Honor and Serve. I was impressed by his victories in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) and Cigar
Mile (G1). He won around two turns
going a mile and an eighth while earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 105 and then
beat older horses in the one-turn mile for a 104.
Today To Honor and Serve started his
2012 campaign by toying with a field of four in the Westchester (G3) at Belmont. He beat Boys At Tosconova by five
and a quarter lengths in 1:34.84 while under wraps at the end of the race. To Honor and Serve sat eight lengths
behind the leader at the half mile pole and then went right by all of them. “When I asked him – I didn’t even ask
him – I let him do it himself. At
the quarter pole he changed leads and he galloped very easy,” Jockey Jose
Lezcano said about the effort.
Normally Mott’s horses need a race, but
not today for the very sharp To Honor and Serve. “He ran well. We’re happy to see him come back off that long
layoff and run well,” said Mott. When
asked about the strength of his barn in the handicap division he said, “He’s
(To Honor and Serve) obviously one of the leaders. We’re fortunate.”
His win in the Westchester was an
impressive prep race. “Our early season goal is the Met Mile (G1) on May 28th. That would be a goal for anybody I
suppose for any part of the season.
That would be a big accomplishment if he could do that,” Mott added.
Mott feels that To Honor and Serve is
just beginning to reach his potential, “He’s matured. And that’s what I was
hoping he would do from the time he was a two year-old. You could tell he might be one of those
horses who was going to be better as he got older.”