Modernist a Belmont 'possibility' as Mott lines up stakes horses

Modernist a Belmont 'possibility' as Mott lines up stakes horses
Photo: Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges Jr.

Trainer Bill Mott has yet to determine the next step for 3-year-old Modernist, but the Belmont Stakes is “certainly an option for him,” the Hall of Famer says.

The Pam and Martin Wygod homebred has raced only twice since breaking his maiden in January at Aqueduct, winning a division of the Risen Star Stakes (G2) in February before a third in the Louisiana Derby (G2) in March.

“He’s had his third work back since his little brief working vacation," Mott said. "We bypassed the Arkansas Derby with him. He’s on a breeze schedule now, and he breezed (Thursday) morning -- went very well.”

Modernist registered the bullet for five furlongs at Payson Park in Florida, clocking in at 1:01.60. There's time still for two or three more drills and a ship to New York before the June 20 Belmont, which would cut Modernist back to 1 1/8 miles from the 1 3/16 he ran last out at Fair Grounds.

“If we get right up to the race and we like what we see, then [the Belmont] is a very good possibility," Mott said. "…We’re getting the horse ready, and we’ll see how the race is shaping up and how the horse is doing in the short time leading up to the race and see if we like what we see and we think that’s the race he should run in.”

Meanwhile, Mott is looking beyond Churchill Downs for Frank’s Rockette, who bounced back from a runner-up finish in Oaklawn Park's Purple Martin Stakes to win a six-furlong allowance race on Monday.

“I haven’t chosen anything” for the 3-year-old daughter of Into Mischief, Mott said. “I don’t see anything left at Churchill for her – she’s stabled at Churchill. So we’re going to look to the next town, probably. I don’t have anything planned right at the moment.”

The Frank Fletcher homebred has finished in the exacta in each of her seven starts.

Among other notables in Mott’s care:

The Suburban Handicap (G2) at Belmont on July 4 is a “possibility” for Tacitus, who most recently finished fourth in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) on May 2. That was the first race for the 4-year-old son of Tapit since a fifth-place finish in the Saudi Cup on Feb. 29. The last win for the Juddmonte Farms homebred was in the 2019 Wood Memorial (G2), which he followed with a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

Endorsed, as with Modernist, could be shipping from Florida to Belmont. “There’s a good possibility for him to run in the Westchester next week,” Mott said. In his last out, Endorsed, a Godolphin homebred son of Medaglia d’Oro, overcame a slow start to win an allowance race at Oaklawn against stakes-quality company on May 2. The June 6 Westchester (G3) could set up a rematch with Code of Honor. The two last met in August in the Travers Stakes (G1), with Code of Honor scoring while Endorsed came in fourth.

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