12/18/2009 1:00AM

Juddmonte taps Mott as main man


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will have a stable of approximately 12 horses in Southern California beginning next month, including an undetermined number from Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms.

Mott said on Friday that he will decide which horses will be sent to California after Christmas. The stable will be based at Santa Anita.

"We've just got a couple of horses for the stakes and we're trying to get it together," Mott said. "I'll pick up a few of the Juddmonte horses after Christmas."

Juddmonte Farms had horses with the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel until his death last month. In recent weeks, the California-based Juddmonte runners have started for Frankel's former assistant, Humberto Ascanio.

Juddmonte manager Garrett O'Rourke said on Friday that Mott will train the majority of the stable's runners in the United States in 2010, and that Ascanio will train Midships, the multiple stakes winner on turf. Midships, trained by Frankel earlier this year, is expected to return to training in early 2010.

"Bill Mott will be our number-one trainer," said O'Rourke. He added that Juddmonte is "down to a pretty small string already" in the United States.

O'Rourke said Mott will decide where the Juddmonte runners will be based.

"It's up to Bill," O'Rourke said. "Bobby didn't operate under any rules. Billy won't be asked to, either. If the horses are better suited to different tracks or different surfaces, he's the boss."

The horses Mott sends to California will be the first long-term involvement for his stable at a Santa Anita winter meeting. "I've never been out there other than to ship in and out," he said.

In the late 1990s, Mott had a division at Del Mar, directed by Simon Bray, but those horses did not stay in California on a year-round basis. Mott said on Friday there is a possibility he could keep horses in California after the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, which runs from Saturday through April 18.

"It's possible we'll keep a presence out there for more than this meeting," he said. "We have to play it by ear. It depends on how we do and what we've got left. I'm not looking to send a 40-horse stable. We'd like to accommodate horses that fit in the program."

Any addition from a leading stable such as Mott's would be a boost for California racing, which is suffering from an acute shortage of horses because of a poor economy, and the loss of some horses to tracks on the East Coast, such as Philadelphia Park, which has purses enhanced by slot machine revenue.

Last week, trainer Doug O'Neill said he has 50 horses in California and 30 at Philadelphia Park. A few years ago, O'Neill had more than 100 horses in training in Southern California.