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Mott could have hand in five Grade 1's at Belmont
ELMONT, N.Y. − By sundown next Saturday, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott should have a pretty good idea what kind of presence he will have in this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Belmont Park will host five Grade 1 races next Saturday, and it appears Mott will have at least one runner in each of them.
Hold Me Back will get another chance to prove himself on dirt when he runs in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, the marquee event on Saturday’s card. All of Hold Me Back’s wins have come on synthetic surfaces, but he did finish second in the 2009 Travers Stakes to Summer Bird. That race was run over a sloppy track.
“Arguably, that was his best race,” Mott said Friday from Saratoga.
In July, Hold Me Back won the Dominion Day Handicap over Woodbine’s synthetic surface going 1 1/4 miles. He shipped to Del Mar for the Pacific Classic, in which he finished eighth, beaten 5 1/2 lengths, by Richard’s Kid.
“It was a weird race,” Mott said. “He was up close, sitting there easy enough, then they outsprinted him. Then after the race was over he galloped out in front of them again.”
Mott said Hold Me Back has trained well on dirt, and “if he feels like doing it, he certainly can handle the main track.”
Mott said Rajiv Maragh would ride Hold Me Back in the Gold Cup. That field is expected to include Blame, Fly Down, Haynesfield, Mythical Power, Rail Trip, and possibly Tranquil Manner. Musket Man is listed as possible, but he is also being considered for the $300,000 Monmouth Cup on Oct. 9.
Beldame: Unrivaled Belle-Rachel rematch?
Unrivaled Belle may be the most highly regarded runner Mott sends out next Saturday, when she runs in the $350,000 Beldame Invitational, a stepping-stone to the Ladies’ Classic.
Unrivaled Belle gained notoriety when she outlasted Rachel Alexandra in the Grade 2 La Troienne at Churchill Downs in April. She could face Rachel Alexandra again in the Beldame, though Rachel Alexandra’s have not yet committed to the race.
In her last two starts, Unrivaled Belle finished second to Life At Ten in the Ogden Phipps and second to Malibu Prayer in the Grade 1 Ruffian. Mott noted that in the Ruffian, Malibu Prayer bumped Unrivaled Belle a couple of strides out of the gate, costing Unrivaled Belle some early position. Meanwhile, Malibu Prayer cruised to a gate-to-wire victory.
Mott said he gave Unrivaled Belle some additional time to recover from that race and believes she has benefited from it.
“She’s doing quite well,” he said. “We might just upset the apple cart in there.”
Others under consideration for the Beldame, run at 1 1/8 miles, include Bonnie Blue Flag, Devil May Care, Life At Ten, Miss Match, and Persistently.
Vosburgh: Snapshot back at favorite track
Based on Beyer Speed Figures, Snapshot has run his two best races over Belmont’s main track. Mott said he hopes Snapshot can raise his game another notch in the $350,000 Vosburgh Invitational at six furlongs.
Snapshot won a six-furlong maiden race here in May 2009, earning a 100 Beyer. In June, Snapshot finished second to Bribon in the Grade 2 True North, earning a 103. Following that race, Mott ran Snapshot in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder, where he finished fifth, beaten eighth lengths by Big Drama.
“I don’t think he liked the track whatsoever,” Mott said. “I didn’t think he was doing real well right after he came back. I was just waiting for him to come around. His last couple of works have been really good.”
Others pointing to the Vosburgh include Girolamo, Latigo Shore, Mr. Fantasy, Riley Tucker, Temecula Creek, and Wildcat Brief. Wall Street Wonder and Driven by Success are possible.
Joe Hirsch: Mott likely to run two
Mott is planning to run both Al Khali and the mare Treat Gently in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at 1 1/2 miles.
Al Khali is coming back three weeks after overcoming significant trouble to win the Bowling Green Handicap. Treat Gently, who is 2 for 2 at Belmont, has not run since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Beverly D at Arlington.
In the Bowling Green, Al Khali showed a burst of acceleration he hadn’t displayed before overcoming trouble in midstretch to get up in time to win.
“He showed a very good turn of foot,” Mott said. “We felt he was a little more of a grinding type. It’s the first time he accelerated really quick.”
Though Treat Gently was invited to the Flower Bowl, run at 1 1/4 miles, Mott said he likes the 1 1/2 miles of the Joe Hirsch better for her. Treat Gently is expected to be on the second invitee list for the Hirsch.
Others pointing to the race include Bearpath, Bourbon Bay, Interpatation, Never on Sunday, Paddy O’Prado, Strike A Deal, and Telling. Solitaire and Temple City are possible.
Flower Bowl: Changing Skies strong
Mott will seek his fifth victory in the Flower Bowl when he sends out Changing Skies, who has three wins and three seconds in six starts for Mott. In her last start, Changing Skies won the Waya Stakes at Saratoga. The only mare to have defeated Changing Skies this year is Lady Shakespeare, who did so in the Bewitch at Keeneland and the New York here. Lady Shakespeare has since been sidelined because of an injury.
“Lady Shakespeare is really a top filly,” Mott said. “When you take her out of there, our filly hasn’t done anything wrong.”
Changing Skies is expected to take on Ave, Forever Together, Gozzip Girl, Keertana, Red Desire, and Shared Account in the Flower Bowl.
Our Khrysty goes long in Nelly Bly
After running in sprint races in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware Park, Our Khrysty will attempt to stretch out to 1 1/16 miles here in Sunday’s $70,000 Nellie Bly Stakes for fillies and mares.
Our Khrysty has run well before going long, finishing second to Lady Alexander in the Honey Bee Handicap at the Meadowlands and second to Poovey in the Sleigh Ride Stakes at Philadelphia Park.
“I’ve wanted to run her long,” trainer Todd Beattie said. “We just didn’t have the racing opportunities. I ran her long a couple of times last year, and I thought she ran well. He had some issues switching leads, and we got through that, which should help her go long. I do think she’ll like that one turn.”
Ramon Dominguez will ride Our Khrysty from post 3.
Other contenders in the field include Don’t Forget Gil, Banker’s Buy, McVictory, and Patience Drive.
* Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux was expected to receive clearance from his doctors Friday to resume riding next Wednesday. He is listed to ride Digger Karakorum in Wednesday’s second race. Desormeaux suffered a hairline fracture of the C-7 in his neck in a spill at Saratoga on Aug. 4.