In the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, both
Close Hatches and Mr Palmer were reported to have emerged from their Wood Day races in fine fettle.
Grade 2 Gazelle victress Close Hatches is now undefeated in
three starts and could be bound for the Kentucky Oaks, having earned 100
points for yesterday’s victory in
the new qualifying system for the race.
“I thought it was pretty impressive,” Mott’s assistant, Leana
Willaford, said of the Gazelle, in which Close Hatches dueled with a
game Princess of Sylmar before drawing
off to win by 3 ¼ lengths. “It was just her third start and she had to
get in a little bit of a battle there after setting pretty good
fractions. She ran great. I’m sure the Oaks would probably be on the
radar; it seems that would be the natural progression.
That’s obviously something Bill and Garrett O’Rourke, the Juddmonte
operations] will have to decide. It seems like a logical choice as long
as she comes out of the race good, and so far, she has. For the first
day, she looks real
good, she’s happy, and she ate well.”
Michael Lauffer and Gregory McDonald’s Mr Palmer, fourth in the
Grade 1 Wood Memorial, did not earn the points necessary to run in the
Kentucky Derby, but Willaford
said his connections were pleased with the performance.
“We’re real happy with him,” Willaford said. “He ran real well.
There were some nice horses in there and he’s made kind of a steady and
nice progression since he came
up here last fall. He certainly didn’t embarrass himself or disappoint
anybody. We’ll just wait and see how he comes out of this. We’ve got
plenty of options – now that [the
Derby] is off the schedule, you can kind of shop around with where to go. He looks like he should have a nice season ahead of him.”