08/01/2007 11:00PM

Mott back at top with flying start


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - A familiar name is atop the trainer standings after the first eight days of the Saratoga meet.

Bill Mott, who won or shared eight Saratoga trainer's titles from 1992-2001, has six winners, two more than current Spa king Todd Pletcher and Christophe Clement.

"We'll take it for the day or two that it lasts," Mott, who turned 54 on Sunday, said Thursday morning, hours before sending Queen Joanne out to a maiden turf win in the fourth race.

Through Thursday, Mott had 6 winners from 20 starters (30 percent), with one of those wins coming in the Grade 1 Diana with My Typhoon. It was the third straight year Mott won the Diana. My Typhoon may be headed for the Grade 2, $200,000 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup here on Aug. 23.

Last Sunday, Mott unleashed a good-looking 2-year-old filly, J Z Warrior. Despite getting away from her handlers in the paddock, she romped to a 10-length victory in a six-furlong maiden race.

"I can say that I haven't had a 2-year-old filly run like that in a long time, particularly this early in the year," said Mott, who will now point J Z Warrior to the Grade 1 Spinaway on Sept. 2.

On Wednesday, Mott won a six-furlong dirt allowance race with the 4-year-old filly Cuaba and a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance with Ruban Blue, a 3-year-old daughter of Broken Vow who has been somewhat of a puzzle for Mott.

"She's one that totally confused me," Mott said. "She won sprinting on dirt. I tried to stretch her out, that didn't work; let me try turf. If the grass didn't work I was going to shorten her up and sprint. I honestly don't know that her race [Wednesday] was any better than her maiden win sprinting. . . . I think she's a good filly, I'm just not sure where. I don't think we're done experimenting with her."

Though Mott doesn't believe he can contend for the training title, he will have plenty of action the remainder of the second week of the meet. After going 1 for 2 on Thursday, Mott had three horses entered for Friday and seven for Saturday.

Mott certainly has a puncher's chance Saturday with High Again in the Grade 1 Test, a race Mott won in 1993 with Missed the Storm and again in 2000 with Dream Supreme. High Again won the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream in March, but has lost her last four starts. She did run a good second behind Lady Joanne in the Grade 3 Dogwood, a one-turn mile stakes at Churchill on June 2. She disappointed Mott when she finished third as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks in her most recent start.

"It looked like it was her race to win at the quarter pole," said Mott, who said he had no plausible excuse. "She seems to be doing all right. We're going to take a shot in there and see how it works out."

High Again, a daughter of High Yield, should benefit from the presence of plenty of speed horses in the field. She will break from post 11 in the 13-horse field.

Mott will be represented by Vaunt in Saturday's $80,000 Glow Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile. The horse began his career in Europe before shipping to Dan Hendricks in Southern California. In his first start for Mott, Vaunt finished fifth as the 6-5 favorite in the Grade 3 Arlington Classic.

"He made a mild run, but doesn't have an explosive run," Mott said. "Maybe over that distance, which was a mile and a sixteenth, he doesn't have as big a run. I expected since we were stretching him out he'd be a little closer to the pace."

On Monday, Mott will run Marcavelly in the $150,000 Hall of Fame Stakes at 1 1/8 miles. Marcavelly has won two Grade 3 stakes, including the Hill Prince on June 8. Mott isn't convinced Marcavelly wants 1 1/8 miles, but doesn't have a better alternative.

"I don't think a mile and an eighth is his best gig by any stretch of the imagination," said Mott, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998 at age 45.

Mott said he's more interested in the quality of races that he wins at the meet than the quantity.

"Honestly, I'm not thinking about any trainer's titles," Mott said. "I know Todd's so loaded. If I can have a high percentage and win some of the right races, that's the main thing."