06/22/2013 5:59PM

Belmont Park: Close Hatches rolls to upset victory in Mother Goose

Barbara D. Livingston
Close Hatches was never threatened coming down the stretch under a hand ride from Joel Rosario.

ELMONT, N.Y. - One week removed from watching his own heavily favored Royal Delta get upset in a graded stakes at Churchill Downs, trainer Bill Mott turned the tables on another heavy favorite, as Close Hatches rolled to a 7 1/4-length victory over 1-5 shot Dreaming of Julia in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park.

Dreaming of Julia, who got shuffled back to last on the far turn, rallied to get second by a half-length over Marathon Lady. Toasting and Sister State completed the order of finish.

After winning her first three starts, Close Hatches finished seventh in the Kentucky Oaks and second in the Acorn, but Mott felt confident enough to run her back in 26 days against the heavily favored Dreaming of Julia.

“All I know is our filly was doing good, maybe the other filly . . . shot her best race in the Gulfstream Park Oaks,” Mott said, referring to Dreaming of Julia’s 21 ¾-length win in that race. “One outstanding horse in the race, you don’t want to avoid the race, you want to take your chance and run. That’s what we did today, and it worked out.”

Under Joel Rosario, Close Hatches raced in fourth position early, outside of Dreaming of Julia, but about 2 1/2 lengths behind Toasting, who set fractions of 23.32 seconds for the quarter-mile and 46.27 for the half while being stalked by Sister State.

Entering the far turn, Rosario sent Close Hatches after the leaders, while John Velazquez tried to send Dreaming of Julia into a hole between horses, but she wouldn’t go and got shuffled back to last. Dreaming of Julia was coming out of a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks in which she got slammed at the start and had to steady down the backside.

“She wasn’t comfortable being between horses,” Velazquez said. “I think she got shy from the time before when she got squeezed in the Oaks. Now she’s in between horses and the hole is big for her to get in there, she didn’t want it at all. That was it.”

Meanwhile, Close Hatches opened up a sizeable advantage turning into the stretch and was never threatened coming to the wire under a hand ride from Rosario, who won three races on the card.

Close Hatches, a Juddmonte Farms homebred daughter of First Defence, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.36 and returned $10.60 as the second choice.

“It was easy, and I think it was a one-horse race turning for home,” Rosario said. “She ran very good.”

From his vantage point, Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Dreaming of Julia, said his filly never looked comfortable.

“She just never was herself, it didn’t look like,” he said. “She was stuck in between horses, never found a seam. I thought she ran very gutsy to get up for second, but she clearly didn’t run her race.”

Of the $744,888 wagered in the show pool, $689,154 was wagered on Dreaming of Julia. Close Hatches and Dreaming of Julia each paid $2.10 to show while Marathon Lady paid $2.20.