Trainer Bill Mott is preparing Tacitus and Endorsed for the two biggest races on Saturday's Belmont card.
Mott is hoping Tacitus can get his first score since the 2019 Wood Memorial in Saturday’s $200,000 Suburban Handicap (G2). The son of Tapit followed up that win by finishing in the money for five straight races to finish out the year. In his debut this year, the Juddmonte Farms homebred came in fifth in the Saudi Cup in February and then fourth in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) on May 2.
Mott noted the game plan for Tacitus on the nation's birthday is simple.
“Cross the line first,” Mott said. “I think he just needs to have a good trip and run one of his better races, that’s all. He’s been running good races. He needs the trip and some luck. He has not run poorly. Actually, his last race might have been slightly dull, but he had traveled back from Saudi. … He’s training well and seems sharp at the moment, so we’re hoping for a big effort.”
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Endorsed is pointing to the $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap (G1), a one-turn mile for older horses on Belmont’s main track.
The 4-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro will be seeking his first career stakes win. Endorsed started out this year with an allowance win at Gulfstream in January, followed by a fifth-place showing in the Santa Anita Handicap in March. He came back to win another allowance at Oaklawn in May and then was second a half length to Code of Honor in the Westchester (G3) at Belmont on June 6.
Mott noted the importance of getting a graded stakes win on the resume of the Godolphin homebred, particularly one the stature of the Met Mile.
“I guess it’s all trial and error, right? He’s doing well, he’s coming off a good race, and I thought it would be a good opportunity for him. If he could prove himself in there, it’s such an important race in regard to the horse’s future as a stallion prospect. For me, that’s one of the big reasons.”
Meanwhile, Mott said, Modernist is regrouping after a seventh-place showing in the Belmont Stakes. After breaking his maiden on third try in January, the son of Uncle Mo scored in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds in February. Then he finished third in the Louisiana Derby (G2) in March, his last out before the Belmont Stakes.
For his next race, “we’ll take a step back, try to find maybe a race that doesn’t have the leader of his generation in there,” Mott said, referring to Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law.
“We’ll try to maybe take a step back and find a little easier spot next time, get him back on the right track. It was not his typical race. Even if we had been beaten in there, I didn’t expect to get beaten that far. But I think he’s a little better than that.”