10/11/2013 12:00PM

Belmont Park notes: Close Hatches targets Breeders' Cup Distaff

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Barbara D. Livingston
Close Hatches, the winner of the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park in June, will point to the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Barring a setback in her training, Close Hatches, a three-time graded stakes-winning 3-year-old filly, will run in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita on Nov. 1, trainer Bill Mott said Friday.

“She deserves a chance to be in there,” Mott said on an overcast fall morning at Belmont Park. “She will be.”

Close Hatches gives Mott a potent 1-2 punch for the Distaff, in which he also will run the race’s two-time defending winner, Royal Delta. Mott has won the Distaff five times, including the last three, when it was called the Ladies’ Classic.

Mott said Joel Rosario will ride Close Hatches in the Distaff as jockey Mike Smith, who won the Grade 1 Cotillion with Close Hatches at Parx last month, will ride Royal Delta. Both horses were due to have workouts at Belmont over the weekend.

Close Hatches, a Juddmonte Farms homebred daughter of First Defence, is 5 for 7 this year, with Grade 1 victories in the Cotillion and Mother Goose and a Grade 2 score in the Gazelle, in which she defeated Princess of Sylmar, who has since won four consecutive Grade 1 races.

Princess of Sylmar was scheduled to work this weekend as well, a breeze that could determine whether she will participate in the Distaff.

A temperature forced Close Hatches to miss the big summer races at Saratoga – the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama – but she came off a three-month layoff to win the Cotillion by two lengths.

Regarding two-time champion older female Royal Delta, Mott said, “It’s relatively safe to say we’re going in the Distaff.”

Mott said he has not had any recent discussions with owner Benjamin Leon regarding pre-entering her in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic as well. Last year, Royal Delta was pre-entered in both races.

Royal Delta is coming off a second-place finish to Princess of Sylmar in the Beldame Invitational on Sept. 28.

In Trouble sidelined

In Trouble, the authoritative winner of the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont on Sept. 29, will be sidelined for the remainder of his 2-year-old season due to a chip in his left knee, trainer Tony Dutrow said.

In Trouble underwent surgery Thursday at the New Bolton Center to remove the chip. The surgery was performed by Dr. Dean Richardson, Dutrow said.

“It went excellent, just a little chip fracture in the upper joint of the left knee,” Dutrow said. “It will take him out of the Nashua, which was our plan. We’ll move forward with him as a 3-year-old.”

In Trouble, a son of Tiz Wonderful owned by Team D Stable, won his debut at Saratoga on Aug. 10 before taking the Futurity by 2 1/4 lengths, a race in which he earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure.

Dutrow said In Trouble’s injury was diagnosed following a routine gallop last week at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.

Wired Bryan to Showcase Day

Wired Bryan, an open-company graded stakes winner who dominated New York-breds both times he’s faced them, will run in next Saturday’s $150,000 Bertram F. Bongard Stakes on the Empire Showcase Day program, trainer Michael Dilger said.

Wired Bryan, a son of Stormy Atlantic, won the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga in July. After a narrow loss to Corfu in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and a fifth in the Grade 1 Hopeful in the slop at Saratoga, Wired Bryan won the $237,457 New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes on Sept. 28.

Though the Bongard would mean coming back in three weeks, Dilger noted that Wired Bryan ran in two graded stakes in a three-week span.

“He’s shown us before that he can run back on short rest,” Dilger said. “He came out of his race at Finger Lakes very well, and he’s fresh, so we’ll take advantage of his New York-bred status. It’s a good race – it’s a good pot.”

Dilger said John Velazquez will ride Wired Bryan in the seven-furlong Bongard.

Strapping Groom to Bold Ruler

Strapping Groom, the winner of the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga in August, will be pointed to the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Stakes here on Oct. 26, trainer David Jacobson said.

Following the Forego, Strapping Groom ran in the Grade 1 Vosburgh, where he finished third, 4 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Private Zone.

“That last race knocked him out a little bit – it’s taken him a little while to recover,” Jacobson said. “Running against those kinds of horses takes a little extra out of you. It took a little extra out of me, too.”

Jacobson eschewed shipping to California for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, saying he would like to point the 6-year-old horse to the winter sprint stakes program at Aqueduct.