Hofburg takes 'different route' from Breeders' Cup, facing older

October 22, 2018 01:10pm

Pairing hype surrounding Hofburg with results, trainer Bill Mott said Monday he has “mixed feelings about the whole thing” when it comes to the 3-year-old’s 2018 campaign.

Hofburg jumped from a maiden win to run second in the Florida Derby; he proved respectable in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes; and he won his first stakes race this summer at Saratoga.

But then came his most-recent start in the Sept. 22 Pennsylvania Derby (G1).

“We went to Parx and ran over a racetrack I don’t think he liked for some reason,” Mott said. “It looked like he was swimming rather than running, and he finished fourth. That dusted our plans for the Breeders’ Cup with him. It would have been hard for me to recommend going to the Breeders’ Cup Classic off that race, although I’m not convinced he shouldn’t be in there.

“We’re going to take a different route.”

Hofburg breezed five furlongs Monday in 1:00.60 toward his first matchup with older horses in Keeneland’s Fayette Stakes, a Grade 2, $200,000 event run on Saturday’s final card of the meet. The Juddmonte Farms excelled two starts back at the nine-furlong distance when he won Saratoga’s July 27 Curlin Stakes.

From there, Mott pointed the horse to the Travers (G1).

“He got sick leading into the Travers, so we missed that, and he responded well after that,” Mott said. “He came back and was training well.”

That has continued into the Fayette. Mott said that with a move forward Saturday, Hofburg could remain in Kentucky for Churchill Downs’ Clark Handicap (G1). In his other race over the surface, Hofburg finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby.

“He got stopped in the turn and came flying at the end, but we lost 10 lengths,” Mott said. “He went from in good position to back, and he had to wait until turning for home to get going again. You’ve got to have the trip. You’ve got to get lucky.

“If he’d had the Calvin Borel trip along the fence, he would have hit the board. Was he going to beat Justify that day? I don’t know, but I believe he would have been a factor.”

Mott said both Hofburg and Elate, a Grade 1-winning filly from his barn who will miss the Breeders’ Cup due to a setback, are expected to run in 2019.


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