05/30/2011 5:23PM

Calder: Motovato regains old form in Memorial Day Handicap

Jim Lisa
The 6-year-old Motovato, making his second start following a year's layoff, captures the Memorial Day Handicap.

MIAMI - Motovato gave every indication he’s back on top of his game again after holding off defending champion Mambo Meister through the stretch to register a one-length victory in Monday’s $75,000 Memorial Day Handicap at Calder. Jackson Bend, the even-money favorite, finished third.   The Memorial Day lost its Grade 3 status this year.

Motovato was idle one year before returning to finish second in a 61/2-furlong allowance race here earlier this month. Now 6, Motovato, a son of Proud Citizen, had finished third in the 2009 Memorial Day. He won the Grade 3 Kenny Noe Jr. handicap later that year.

With leading rider Luis Saez aboard, Motovato stalked the early pace of Bernie the Maestro, overtook that rival after six furlongs, edged clear, and  then withstood Mambo Meister’s final bid. Mambo Meister, who dominated last year’s Memorial Day by nearly eight lengths, raced wide while forwardly placed from the outset and continued on willingly through the stretch but was not quite good enough.

Jackson Bend was well placed along the rail but lacked the necessary closing response when set down for the drive, finishing another 1 1/4lengths behind Mambo Meister.

Motovato is trained by Marty Wolfson for the partnership of Team Valor International and Gary Barber. He completed a mile and 70 yards in 1:46.48 and paid $8.60.

“It was tough getting him back to where he is now off a year layoff,” said Wolfson. “There really wasn’t a specific physical problem, he just wasn’t right and I stopped on him.”

Wolfson said Motovato would be sent north to join his Monmouth Park division for the summer.