07/09/2012 4:36PM

Belmont: Mott may go three deep in Whitney

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Ron the Greek is among three older horses trainer Bill Mott could run in the Whitney at Sarataoga.

ELMONT, N.Y. – If the connections of Suburban Handicap winner Mucho Macho Man continue to manage their colt as they have thus far, it would appear that he is more likely to run in the Woodward at Saratoga on Sept. 1 than the Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 4. Both races are worth $750,000 and run at 1 1/8 miles.

Even if that turns out to be the case, the Whitney will not be lacking for quality or quantity.

Trainer Bill Mott said Monday he would nominate a trio of Grade 1 stakes winners to the Whitney, and since there are virtually no other legitimate dirt options at that time, it’s not out of the question he would run Ron the Greek, Flat Out, and To Honor and Serve in the Whitney.

“I’m not really overthinking it,” Mott said at Belmont Monday morning after Ron the Greek worked four furlongs in 49 seconds over the training track. “I’ll nominate Flat Out, Ron the Greek, and To Honor and Serve and I hope I have one of them ready to run by then. And if they’re all ready, all three might run.

“You’d think a guy could manage things better than that but I don’t know where else you’d go.”

There is a dearth of graded stakes on dirt in the handicap division. The Grade 3, $150,000 Philip Iselin at Monmouth on Aug. 18 appears to be the only other graded option over the next seven weeks.

Though it might not include Mucho Macho Man or Hollywood Gold Cup winner Game On Dude, the Whitney field could still come up strong. In addition to the Mott trio, others under consideration include Metropolitan Handicap winner Shackleford; graded-stakes-winning brothers Wise Dan and Successful Dan; Monmouth Cup winner Rule; Cornhusker Handicap winner Fort Larned; and Grade 1 winners Hymn Book and Stay Thirsty as well as Suburban third-place finisher Trickmeister.

Mott was disappointed with To Honor and Serve’s fourth-place finish as the favorite in last Saturday’s Suburban, and is hoping the hot conditions were to blame.

“I don’t think he acted right in the paddock,” Mott said. “He was a little agitated.”

Conversely, Mott was happy with the return of Flat Out, who was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Rule – also coming back off a lengthy layoff – in Saturday’s Grade 2 Monmouth Cup at Monmouth Park. Flat Out finished second in the Whitney last year.

“No reason not to train him in that direction,” Mott said. “That was a good race the other day.”

Flat Out was caught behind a slow pace and bottled in down the backside. Rule had first run on him and held Flat Out at bay in the stretch.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said Rule would be under consideration for the Whitney. Pletcher also said Stay Thirsty, fifth in the Suburban, would point to the Whitney as well. Pletcher said Stay Thirsty didn’t respond well to the heat and was to ship to Saratoga on Tuesday to begin preparing for the Whitney. Stay Thirsty won the Jim Dandy and Travers last summer at Saratoga.

Trainer Charles Lopresti said Successful Dan and Wise Dan were to ship from Kentucky to Saratoga this weekend. Successful Dan, who won the Grade 3 Alysheba over subsequent stakes winners Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man, is a definite for the Whitney. Wise Dan, who won the Ben Ali and was second in the Stephen Foster, is probable, though he could be re-routed to the turf in the Fourstardave on Aug. 11.

Meanwhile, Mucho Macho Man returned to Saratoga on Sunday morning following his impressive 2 1/2-length victory in the Suburban. Under Mike Smith, Mucho Macho Man attended a strong early pace and still finished very well. He ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.58 and earned a career-best 108 Beyer Speed Figure.

It was his fourth win from five starts since returning from a five-month layoff last fall. Mucho Macho Man has had six to 10 weeks between races since returning to the races. It’s only four weeks to the Whitney, but eight weeks to the Woodward.

“He’s a big horse and we allow him to recover on his own, and he seems to do real good that way,” Ritvo said Sunday.

Ritvo and the Reeves Thoroughbred Racing partnership which owns the horse have demonstrated tremendous patience with Mucho Macho Man and it has paid off with victories against strong fields in the Sunshine Millions Classic, Gulfstream Park Handicap, and Suburban.

“We always thought that he belonged with the best horses. We just decided to take it easy getting there,” Ritvo said. “One step at a time.”

Lucifer More than 1 year ago
Stay Thirsty likes upstate NY. You got to be a Macho Man............ Just remember, when WE starting thinking for you, It became OUR World and you became a slave........The People of the LIGHT.......
Joe More than 1 year ago
MMM wins the BC classic. You heard it here first!!!! GET HOT!!!
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
0 for 3 in races over 9 furlongs, with the best finish being a 3rd. His dam side pedigree is all sprint. His Distance Tomlinson Figure for 10 furlong is about 265. You need strong distance pedigree to win a race like the BC Classic. Don't throw your $$ away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well it looks like a good Whitney field. Boy am I glad I made reservations to go this year. I usually do the last week, (post Travers) but with the field shapping up it seems to be a positive trip. Haskell one weekend Whitney next. Sad to say that the talking head sportscasters never give racing its due dilligence. The fools.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
I love Successful Dan in the Whitney. Charles Lopresti screwed up and he knows it. They were too partial to Wise Dan and kept saying that he was the brilliant one. They really should have run Successful Dan in the Stephen Foster instead of Wise Dan. Successful Dan was 4 for 4 at Churchill and he would be getting weight from Ron the Greek, while Wise Dan was top weighted and he only had one win out of 4 starts on a fast dirt oval, now 1 for 5 on fast dirt, that's 4 losses out of only 7 losses total (1 for 2 on grass, 5 for 7 on synthetics, 2 for 2 on sloppy off track, 1 for 5 on fast track). The right thing to do was to run Successful Dan in the Stephen Foster which was run 6 weeks after his last race. Wise Dan last ran in April 22, it was already 2 month it wouldn't hurt to wait 2 more weeks while there is a big difference between 6 weeks and 8 weeks. The result was Successful Dan coming into the Cornhusker Handicap not tightened enough to run down the lone speed in Fort Larned, a horse whom he had gallantly ran down a race before in the Alysheba. But there was a perfect 28 days gap between the Alysheba and his comeback race on April 6 while the layoff of 8 weeks was quite substantial going into the Cornhusker Handicap. He would have won the Stephen Foster while Wise Dan would enjoy a much better pace match-up with Fort Larned in the Cornhusker Handicap. He would be glued to him instead of having to run down a lone speed like Successful Dan. Wise Dan was their preferred child, and Successful Dan unfortunately was the step child, even though I think he's actually a better horse. I think they have learned from their mistake. Lopresti has proclaimed that Successful Dan was a definite in the Whitney while they are giving the Fourstardave a strong consideration for Wise Dan. I think they should go for it. Saratoga is making a major push to make the Fourstardave a premier 1 mile turf race by boosting the purse to $500k and they will be lobbying for an upgrade to a G1. Being a son of Wiseman's Ferry, Wise Dan probably doesn't want any part of 10 furlongs, so they should point him to the Breeders' Cup Mile if he wins the Fourstardave, with the always exciting Woodbine Mile in between. The BC Mile is a great race. Personally I rank it #2 right behind the BC Classic of all the Breeders' Cup races.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It reminds me when Frankel had Empire Maker and Peace Rules and he treated Peace Rules like an ugly step-sister, until he finally realized just what kind of heart peace had. Being lightly-raced, successful dan is like a 4yo in term of wear and tear. If he stays healthy, I love him for the BC. BC Mile will always have Miesque mystique.
Ronnie Malo Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
Successful Dan couldn't get past Fort Larned, and Fort Larned got Cooked in the Stephen Foster, however SD might've not been at his best in the cornhusker. The Whitney will tell you if he's for real.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
I like Kathy Ritvo very much, she's done a fine job with Mucho Macho Man. Good luck and much continued success to her, MMM and the horse's owners.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
From here, at this point in the season, I believe Ron The Greek, Hymm Book, Mucho Macho Man, Fort Larned, Successful Dan and Wise Dan are the best older horses. Game on Dude hasn't really faced much and when forced to do so may fizzle. Throw in the expected progressions of Union Rags,Bodemiester,and Paynter, and a more mature Creative Cause as well as rested, and that may be our Breeders Cup Classic. Stay Thirsty and Flat Out appear to be a cut below. I hope Shackleford stays in one turn races from mile to mile and eighth. I believe he is the fastest of all these but two turns not his game anymore.
Dan Cronin More than 1 year ago
The best older horse in the country Successful Dan will win the Whitney.
Ronnie Malo Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
The Alysheba turned out to be a key race with Fort larned and MMM comming back for a win, I do believe that the Macho Man bounced that day after a hard race in the GP Handicap Would love to see a rematch in the woodward with maybe union rags in the mix.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
I love Successful Dan in the Whitney. Charles Lopresti screwed up and he knows it. They were too partial to Wise Dan and kept saying that he was the brilliant one. They really should have run Successful Dan in the Stephen Foster instead of Wise Dan. Successful Dan was 4 for 4 at Churchill and he would be getting weight from Ron the Greek, while Wise Dan was top weighted and he only had one win out of 4 starts on a fast dirt oval, now 1 for 5 on fast dirt, that's 4 losses out of only 7 losses total (1 for 2 on grass, 5 for 7 on synthetics, 2 for 2 on sloppy off track, 1 for 5 on fast track). The right thing to do was to run Successful Dan in the Stephen Foster which was run 6 weeks after his last race. Wise Dan last ran in April 22, it was already 2 month it wouldn't hurt to wait 2 more weeks while there is a big difference between 6 weeks and 8 weeks. The result was Successful Dan coming into the Cornhusker Handicap not tightened enough to run down the lone speed in Fort Larned, a horse whom he had gallantly ran down a race before in the Alysheba. But there was a perfect 28 days gap between the Alysheba and his comeback race on April 6 while the layoff of 8 weeks was quite substantial going into the Cornhusker Handicap. He would have won the Stephen Foster while Wise Dan would enjoy a much better pace match-up with Fort Larned in the Cornhusker Handicap. He would be glued to him instead of having to run down a lone speed like Successful Dan.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
It was Crist, I believe that wrote of the need for more Grade Ones' throughout this portion of the season and yes, he was right. Alotta veteran Horsemen and Turf Writers predicted this during the birthing process for The Breeders Cup. Instead of cultivating the handicaps and Fall Highweights, they were let go to seed for the BC. I know that it will be said that we just don't have that kind of Horse anymore but was that known when the BC was cooked up? They have minimized what was formerly three months of great races for what is now two days of the Breeders Cup.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Chilax "Anonymous"! Read this... http://www.drf.com/news/hollywood-park-game-dude-richard%E2%80%99s-kid-heading-del-mar Baffert isn't ruling out Saratoga (Woodward) for Game On Dude! Mucho Macho man might be there. Read before you grumble about "winning an eclipse". Horses don't lose their way into an eclipse.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another article where they're daring to mention Game On Dude with the top horses in the handicap division. If a horse is a local favorite but his connections never have the courage to race him outside of his home base, is he really a top horse? Ron The Greek, Flat Out, To Honor And Serve, Mucho Macho Man---they always follow the action to prove their ability. Game On Dude could conceivably win an Eclipse without facing a horse that won a major race outside of California, and the handicap division that stays in California is mediocre at best. Can we stop placing him in the top ranks and comparing him with good horses who prove it by repeatedly facing the best? If Game On Dude dared to run and win the Whitney, I'll gladly shut up about it. But until then, DRF writers, stop trying to create hype about SoCal where none exists. As for the article, the Whitney looks to be stacked. The only thing missing is something we haven't seen in a while, and that's a top 3YO running in the Whitney. It'd be a fascinating way to prep for the Travers while ducking the sideshows elsewhere.
Dave More than 1 year ago
Your argument against Game On Dude makes zero sense. He finished second in the BC Classic last year, beating Flat Out, Havre De Grace, Stay Thirsty, and To Honor And Serve. He has already proven his class. And no trainer would ever run in the Whitney as a prep for the Travers, that would be a grueling test for a 3yo.
Anthony Tyler More than 1 year ago
I agree Dave. Though, Mucho macho man's race was scary good, I'll take the dude right now. Baffert, and chantel!
Ray Manley More than 1 year ago
Hey Dave, Alydar won the 78 Whitney - by 10 lengths - drilling older horses, including J.O Tobin and then returned to win The Travers.
rvraynmary More than 1 year ago
Hey Ray, Alydar only won the Travers because the stewardsdisqualified Affirmed, who beat him fair and square. Angel Cordero forced Affirmed to commit afoul.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
As a 3yo, Easy Goer won the Whitney in 1:47:40 and 2 weeks later he won the Travers in 2:00:80. What did he do after that? He would go on to win the Woodward (ran at 10 furlongs that year) and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (ran at 12 furlongs that then). Which 3yo in this year's crop could possibly pull off the Whitney? I think Paynter. He was only beaten 3.5L by I'll Have Another after a bad stumbled start, so with a win in the Whitney, the Travers, the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the BC Classic, I could see him winning the 3YO Champion and Horse of the Year honors.
Ronnie Malo Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
Dude hasn't faced the best this year but he did last year. He's still the top dog and he's playing on his own court. He doesn't have to go anywhere, cause soon enuff they'll come to see him. Is he the best older horse? My gut feeling is no, however, Ron the Greek shipped into Santa Anita after the dude was outta town for the world cup, and he faced nothing that day. I'd like to see more east coast horses ship out west closer to the BC Cup. Been a MMM fan since his 3rd in the Derby. Glad to see him comming around. 3 year olds prepping in the Whitney? Dumb idea. Although this year can be a good one for a 3 year old to jump up against older.
andrew More than 1 year ago
Why would he leave California? His home base hosts the Breeders Cup this year. It would be stupid to do otherwise, they have nothing to prove. If anything else the other trainers would be wise to take their attack there.