Slumber On the Rise for Mott

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Juddmonte Farms' Slumber appears on his way back to major stakes racing following his authoritative score Thursday in a $100,000 optional claimer at 1 3/16 miles on the Mellon turf course.


Slumber, a 5-year-old British-born son of Cacique trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, hadn't been out since winning an allowance last August because of nagging carpal tunnel issues in a foreleg. Before that, he hadn't run since finishing fourth, beaten 1 ½ lengths in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in November 2011.


On Thursday, Slumber settled easily into fourth behind pacesetter Roadhog, and jockey Junior Alvarado tracked on the inside, saving ground on the backstretch through a half-mile in 50.18 seconds.


When the field reached the far turn, Alvarado remained inside while others bid for the lead. Turning for home, Slumber shot through an opening down the middle of the track and pulled away to win by 3 ¾ lengths in a time of 1:56.12.


"He was impressive," Mott said. "He was impressive here last year, too. We would have liked to have made plans for him last year, but we were unable to.


"He was with me most of the time, but he went back to Juddmonte [in Lexington] for about three months this spring. I thought we were going to make it back, but in January we had to stop on him again."


Now that the horse is healthy, Mott has optimistic plans for Slumber. He mentioned the Grade 2, $200,000 Bowling Green Handicap at 1 ¼ miles on the grass September 7 at Belmont Park, but is leaning toward the Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at 1 ½ miles on September 28, also at Belmont.


"It seems like the Bowling Green comes up a little quick, and you can't run both the Bowling Green and the Turf Classic, I don't think," Mott said. "So, I think my choice is to go to Canada or run in the Turf Classic, if I can get an invitation."


Slumber broke his maiden at Epsom in 2011 in his second start. He finished third, beaten just three lengths to future Group 1 winner Treasure Beach in the Chester Vas and then placed in two more graded stakes.


He ran in the Hollywood Derby for trainer Charles Hills and then was transferred to Mott.



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Trainer George "Rusty" Arnold was all smiles walking back to his barn after watching Centre Court breeze on the Oklahoma training track turf course on Friday.


Under exercise rider Simon Harris, the 4-year-old Smart Strike filly was clocked in 48.13 seconds for a half-mile in her second work since finishing last of five as the favorite in the Grade 1 Diana on July 27.


"She just came off the grass, and she went very nice," Arnold said. "That will be her last work. If she comes out of this work good, I'm going to be very happy."


Arnold is targeting the Grade 2, $250,000 Ketel One Ballston Spa on the Travers undercard August 24 for Centre Court, a winner of five career graded stakes including the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley in April.


"I'm very pleased with the way she's doing," Arnold said. "I have no problems right now. She's doing very well, I think. I'm happy."


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Fourth behind subsequent Grade 2 Saratoga Special winner Corfu in his debut on July 25, Aarons Orient returned to break his maiden at Saratoga on Thursday for trainer Steve Asmussen.


A juvenile son of sprint champion Orientate, Aarons Orient came from just off the pace under jockey Joel Rosario to win in 57.69 seconds for five furlongs, .58 faster than Corfu's time in the previous race.


"He's a very fast horse," said Asmussen. Aarons Orient is owned by A and M Racing, Inc., which purchased the horse out of Ocala's April 2-year-old in training sale for $75,000.


"Kim Valerio bought him out of OBS off of Bobby Dodd, and he's been a lovely horse since he came in. Honestly, we were surprised he got beat the first time, but he obviously got beat by a nice horse."


Asmussen is now 5-for-10 with 2-year-olds at the meet, including a dead-heat victory with Brazen Persuasion in the Grade 2 Schuylerville on opening day, July 19.


"We'll let [Aarons Orient] go back to the track before we do something," Asmussen said. "I think he's a stakes-caliber horse, and we'll find one for him."





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