03/08/2013 4:15PM

Gulfstream: Mott sending out Close Hatches as latest 3-year-old filly star

Tom Keyser
White Rose is owned in part by the Miami Heat’s Rashard Lewis.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Bill Mott’s stable is loaded this winter in all areas, but specifically when it comes to 3-year-old fillies. The Hall of Fame horseman continued his roll with young female runners when he sent out Calistoga and White Rose to popular victories on Thursday and Friday’s programs and will hope to continue the run Sunday with the undefeated Close Hatches.

Calistoga won impressively for the second time in as many starts on Thursday, cruising to a 4 3/4-length entry-level allowance win going 6 1/2 furlongs, for which she received an 86 Beyer Speed Figure. She ran even faster capturing her debut by 6 1/2 lengths eight weeks earlier.

“That was great,” Mott said following Calistoga’s win. “Second time, sometimes you never know what to expect. She had a nice, clean trip, and ran well. Now it’s time to step up a little bit. I don’t like to get too aggressive the second start, you like to give them a couple of races for experience and then it’s time to go, I suppose.”

Mott said the Eight Belles Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day might be next on the agenda for Calistoga.

“Hopefully she’s good enough for the Test in Saratoga, and there might be a point we try to stretch her out once and see what happens,” said Mott.

White Rose rallied from just off the pace to a maiden win on Friday in her second start since being transferred to Mott’s barn early this winter. A daughter of Tapit, White Rose is owned in part by the Miami Heat’s Rashard Lewis, who was on hand for the occasion.

“Her whole future is ahead of her,” said Mott. “I think she’s probably one that should keep improving a bit. She’s big – it takes her a while to get into stride – but I think when the distances increase she’ll be more effective, even next year, when they go 11 to 12 furlongs.”

Close Hatches was an easy winner of her only start, which came going seven furlongs on Jan. 26. Mott entered Close Hatches, a daughter of First Defence, in Saturday’s $100,000 Suncoast at Tampa Bay Downs but said he would scratch her to run here the following afternoon. Close Hatches has been stabled and trained throughout the winter at Gulfstream.

“I’d rather run against the competition up there in the stakes,” Mott said. “The race looks a little tougher here, but she’s been training over this track, and I’d kick myself if I sent her to Tampa and she didn’t handle that racetrack. If she’d have been training at Payson, it might have been a different story.”

Mott, who also does a pretty good job with the older females as well, said his two-time Eclipse Award winner Royal Delta continues to train well since her victory in the Grade 3 Sabin on Feb. 17, and that she is still on target to run in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 30.

“She worked last Sunday in 47 and two and galloped out in 1:01 and one,” said Mott. “The plan is still to go to Dubai. She’ll leave on the evening of the 19th. I might let her do a little something out there after she arrives, but I won’t let her do a whole lot. She’ll do most of her work for the race here.”

Mott said that Cigar Street, who also is owned by Lewis in partnership with Jake Billis, could make his next start in the Grade 3 Skip Away on March 30. Cigar Street has already won a pair of allowance races this meet after being sidelined nearly nine months following his fourth-place finish in the 2012 Louisiana Derby, a Grade 2.

Mott also reported that Ron the Greek came out of his fourth-place finish in defense of his title in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in good order.

“Maybe we took him out of his game a little bit trying to have him lay up closer to the pace trying to win out there,” said Mott.