11/25/2011 3:36PM

Churchill Downs: Mott's meet stellar by any standard

Tom Keyser
Drosselmeyer, with Mike Smith up, wins the Breeders' Cup Classic for trainer Bill Mott.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The curtain comes down Sunday on the Churchill Downs fall meet, even if Bill Mott doesn’t want it to. More than $4.1 million in stable earnings in less than a month isn’t bad, even for a trainer who already had pretty much everything, including a Hall of Fame bust. In fact it’s awfully good work if you can get it, and even if you outsource it, so to speak.

Mott capped off his uncanny fall meet Thursday when Arena Elvira surged late under Junior Alvarado to prevail narrowly as an even-money favorite in the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill. Kenny McCarthy, the longtime Kentucky-based assistant to Mott, did all the heavy lifting, such as it is, saddling the filly while Mott watched on television from New York.

The stakes victory was the fourth of the meet for Mott, whose first of seven winners here this fall with a filly named Anecdote gave him a track-record 650. “We’ve just been rolling since then,” said McCarthy.

What followed was stuff for the history books: a sweep of the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies' Classic with Royal Delta and the $5 million BC Classic with Drosselmeyer, followed later by wins in the Grade 3 Cardinal with Deluxe and the Falls City.

“It’s been good,” Mott said by phone in his typical understated fashion.

The triumph in the $193,725 Falls City was the richest and most important thus far in the 11-race career of Arena Elvira, a 4-year-old Ghostzapper filly owned by Carolyn Wilson. Mott said he expects the filly to get a brief rest before resuming her training at Payson Park this winter in preparation for major filly-mare races at 5.

Maker eyes title

It has been three years since anyone not named Steve Asmussen won a training title at Churchill Downs, and that was when Mike Maker set a fall-meet record by sending out 31 winners in 2008.

As this 21-day meet wound down, Maker was in a good position to snap the five-meet streak Asmussen had put together. Even through the second race Friday, when Truly Devoted blew a huge lead when nipped on the wire as an odds-on favorite for Maker and jockey Edgar Prado, Maker still had 13 winners at the meet, two more than Asmussen. Both trainers were scheduled to be very active through Sunday.

Bowman explains scratch

Ravi’s Song, one of the favorites for the Falls City, was scratched on race morning after Carl Bowman decided he didn’t like how the track was going to play.

“They had it listed ‘fast,’ but I thought it was playing pretty and slow and wasn’t real crisp the way this mare likes it,” said Bowman. “We also had the 10-post, and that wasn’t going to help.”

Bowman said Ravi’s Song, a 5-year-old mare, will run next in the Dec. 17 Blushing K.D. on the Fair Grounds turf and will campaign at 6.

Finale features white horse

Fans who wait around for the last race on closing day will be treated to a rare sight: a horse registered “white” with The Jockey Club. Patchen Princess, descended from a long line of white Thoroughbreds, will make her second career start in the one-mile maiden special weight race that closes out the meet. Bred and owned by the Patchen Wilkes Farm of Warren Rosenthal, the 2-year-old Pioneering filly finished a respectable fifth behind record-setting Applauding when she made her debut last month at Keeneland.

John McKee rides for trainer Bill Connelly.

Ward gets overdue win

John T. Ward Jr. broke a winless streak of more than a year when Majestic Man was up in the final 100 yards to win the 10th race here Thursday for the 66-year-old trainer.

Ward had not won a race since Dancinginherdreams captured the Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill on Oct. 31, 2010, a span of 21 defeats leading to his Thursday win.

Ward will always be remembered for his victory in the 2001 Kentucky Derby with Monarchos.

◗ Before a change was made last year, it was Turfway Park, and not Churchill, that was open on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. But Turfway since has given up all of what were known as “orphaned dates,” single programs that began or ended a meet all by itself.

After three dark days on the circuit, Turfway opens its holiday meet Thursday, with the first stakes, the $50,000 Holiday Inaugural, set for Saturday.