10/13/2012 3:32PM

Belmont: Mott, Ritvo horses head workers with Breeders’ Cup on the agenda


ELMONT, N.Y. – With temperatures in the mid-to-upper 30’s here early Saturday morning, one could forgive some horsemen if they were doing a little California dreaming.

Trainers Bill Mott and Kathy Ritvo, in particular, had Santa Anita on their minds as they prepared their horses for upcoming Breeders’ Cup races Saturday morning at Belmont Park.

Mott sent out three of his four projected Breeders’ Cup starters for half-mile breezes – Royal Delta (Ladies’ Classic), Ron the Greek and To Honor and Serve (both for the Classic) – while Ritvo put Mucho Macho Man through a stamina-building six-furlong drill as he prepares for the 1 1/4-mile Classic.

Royal Delta, the defending Ladies’ Classic winner and likely favorite for this year’s running, began the proceedings by working a half-mile in 47.34 seconds shortly after 7 a.m. over Belmont’s main track.

In what was a common gallop for her, Royal Delta went her first quarter in 23.98 seconds and her second quarter in 23.36 while under a hold from exercise rider Rodolphe Brisset.

“She went well, she looked good, she did it on hold,” Mott said. “She looked as good as ever. It was a good work for the first time back.”

Royal Delta was breezing for the first time since her 9 1/2-length victory in the Grade 1 Beldame here on Sept. 29.

About two hours after Royal Delta worked, Ron the Greek, winner of the Santa Anita and Stephen Foster handicaps, breezed four furlongs in 48.25 seconds, starting a length behind stablemate Armor, a 2-year-old maiden, and finishing on even terms at the wire.

“He was good. We give him a little company just to keep him interested,” Mott said. “Obviously, he’s a little different type of horse than some of the others.”

Ron the Greek is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, run over a wet track that Mott doesn’t believe he really liked.

At 10 a.m., To Honor and Serve breezed four furlongs in 47.17 seconds over the training track. He went his opening quarter in a rapid 23.09 seconds.

Brisset said that To Honor and Serve is typically fresh in his first work after a race. To Honor and Serve was working for the first time since his fourth-place finish in the Kelso.

Mott said that he was fearful that To Honor and Serve would regress in the Kelso off his dominant victory in the Woodward on Sept. 1, but he maintains running him was necessary to have him ready for the Classic.

Flat Out, who won the Jockey Club Gold Cup for Mott, was scheduled to breeze on Sunday.

Mott’s horses will breeze at Belmont each of the next two weekends before shipping to Southern California on Oct. 29.

“I just want to get them there in one piece,” Mott said. “I know we got horses that can compete. Are we going to win? Well, who the [heck] knows that?”

Mucho Macho Man drills six furlongs

Just before 8 a.m. on a traffic-filled training track, Mucho Macho Man worked six furlongs in 1:13.53 in company with Skinny Peter.

The work was scheduled for seven furlongs, but Skinny Peter wasn’t quite ready to break from the seven-eighths pole, so instead the pair broke off at the six-furlong pole. Mucho Macho Man, under exercise rider Nick Petro, went his first quarter in 24.62 seconds and then went a quick second quarter in 23.58 seconds.

Because he went so quickly around the turn, Mucho Macho Man came about three to four wide in the stretch, leaving his workmate behind.

“He’s such a big horse he always steps out,” Ritvo said. “If you see his races you know the horse steps out.”

Ritvo said Mucho Macho Man “does all his running” around the turns.

“He’s got a serious move,” she said.

Mucho Macho Man worked his final quarter in 25.33 seconds and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:28.49.

Coming off the track, Mucho Macho Man, was barely breathing, though the same could not be said for his exercise rider.

“He’s still not tired,” Ritvo said. “Did you see him? I don’t think a horse likes this gets tired.”

Mucho Macho Man will enter the Classic off a second-place finish behind To Honor and Serve in the Woodward at Saratoga on Sept. 1. This was Mucho Macho Man’s third work since that race and he will likely have two more at Belmont before shipping to California on Oct. 30.

In other Breeders’ Cup works on Saturday:

◗ The Lumber Guy went four furlongs in 48.64 seconds over the training track preparing for the BC Sprint.

◗ Attigun, third in the Belmont and fourth in the Jockey Club, worked five furlongs in 1:01.06 over the main track. He is pointing to the Marathon and will be ridden in that race by Mike Smith. He ships to California on Monday, trainer Ken McPeek said.

◗ Brilliant Speed, third in last year’s BC Turf, worked five furlongs in 1:00.87 on the dirt as he ended up chasing a Chad Brown-trained team that broke off in front of him. Brilliant Speed is being considered for the Turf or the Classic, trainer Tom Albertrani said.

◗ Bern Identity, the Sanford winner who is possible for the Juvenile or Juvenile Sprint, went four furlongs in 47.17 seconds over the main track.