06/17/2005 12:00AM

Mott finds himself in familiar spot


ELMONT, N.Y. - A familiar name is atop the Belmont Park trainer standings beyond the halfway point of the 60-day spring/summer meet.

Bill Mott, who won five Belmont spring training titles from 1995-2000, is 13 for 42 through Friday, the 33rd day of racing. In addition to winning at a 31-percent clip, Mott has finished in the money with 69 percent of his starters. While Mott, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998, does not necessarily covet his 18th trainer's title at a New York meet, he wouldn't refuse it, either.

"I realized I was beyond it when I hadn't won one in the last couple of years and I realized life didn't end anyway,'' Mott, 51, said Friday morning outside his barn. "I do better personally if I don't worry about it too much. It's not something you wouldn't want to do, but I would rather concentrate on each individual horse. It is good to keep your percentage up because people really pay attention to that.''

Mott had an especially gratifying Belmont Stakes week, winning four races, including the Grade 3 Flash Stakes with the 2-year-old colt Beacon Shine and the Grade 2 Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap with Sand Springs.

Beacon Hill, a son of Montbrook, could be pointed to the $100,000 Tremont Stakes on July 4, which is the 75th birthday of the colt's owner, George Steinbrenner. Sand Springs, who is at her best up to 1 1/16 miles, could try nine furlongs in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga on July 30. Sand Springs finished fourth in last year's Diana.

Mott has another talented turf filly in Wend, a 4-year-old daughter of Pulpit who has won all four of her grass starts. Mott will stretch Wend out to 1 1/4 miles for her next start, the $250,000 New York Handicap here on July 2.

"We want to find that out,'' Mott said about Wend's distance capability.

Eleven of Mott's 13 wins at this meet have come with turf horses. Arguably the most impressive performance was turned in by Seeking Slew, a son of Seeking the Gold who took a one-mile maiden race by 2 1/2 lengths on May 30, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 99. Mott is considering stepping him up into stakes company in next Saturday's Kent Stakes at Delaware Park.

"There is so much money around right now for the 3-year-olds that it's got to dilute each race,'' Mott said. "Even though it's a little premature, we might try [a stakes].''

Eddington's agenda may change

Eddington is likely to run four more times this year. His next start and his last start have been determined. With the retirement of Ghostzapper, Eddington's other two starts are up for discussion.

Eddington indicated he is on schedule for the $500,000 Suburban Handicap here on July 2 when he worked five furlongs in 59.31 seconds under Pablo Fragoso on Friday morning over a fast Belmont main track. It was Eddington's first work since he won the Grade 1 Pimlico Special last month.

While Eddington worked faster than trainer Mark Hennig wanted, the track did yield very fast times after the renovation break.

"He did a little more than what we were looking for,'' Hennig said. "He almost got loose walking around the barn; he was feeling so good. Pablo jumped off walking back because he thought he was going to get tossed.''

Before it was announced that Ghostzapper had been retired, the plan for Eddington called for the Suburban, the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and the BC Classic. That kept Eddington at 1 1/4 miles and avoided a confrontation with Ghostzapper until the Classic.

Now, Eddington could run in the Whitney and Woodward - both nine-furlong races - prior to the Classic. The Whitney is more prestigious than the Spa Breeders' Cup, while the Woodward would give Eddington seven weeks to the Classic whereas the Gold Cup would only give him four.

"Certainly with Ghostzapper being out it makes you sit back and re-assess what you do,'' Hennig said. "We just want to get to the Breeders' Cup in the best way possible.''

Meniscus will skip the Mike Lee

Meniscus, a 3-year-old New York-bred gelding who has won his first two starts impressively, worked a strong five furlongs in 58.78 seconds Friday morning over Belmont's main track. He worked in company with stablemate Organizer, who covered the same distance in 59.11.

While Meniscus is nominated to next Sunday's Mike Lee Handicap, trainer Dominic Galluscio said he would not run in that seven-furlong race. Galluscio does not feel that Meniscus is a true seven-furlong horse.

Galluscio said he would look for a race later this meet that gets Meniscus to the $250,000 Cab Calloway division of the New York Stallion Stakes on Aug. 3 at Saratoga. Another goal is the $150,000 Albany Handicap on Aug. 24. Both races are run at 1 1/8 miles.

Meniscus, a son of Raffie's Majesty, won his maiden going 7 1/2 furlongs on May 8, earning a 92 Beyer. He came back on June 2 to win an entry-level allowance race going 1 1/16 miles by 10 1/4 lengths for a 91 Beyer.

"You can beat maidens going seven-eighths, but not horses like Blue Sunday," Galluscio said.

Blue Sunday, who earned a 105 Beyer in winning a recent allowance, is pointing to the Mike Lee.

Galluscio said Meniscus didn't show that much in the mornings leading up to his first start.

"But that first race really woke him up,'' said Galluscio, who won his 10th race of the meet when Jo Me the Money took a $16,000 claiming race on Friday.

Widener turf deemed 'too soft'

Despite pristine weather conditions on Friday, three races scheduled for the Widener turf course were moved to the main track.

According to Jerry Porcelli, one of the New York Racing Association's track superintendents, the Widener Course was "too soft'' to run more than one race over it on Friday. All three races scheduled for the Widener course were for New York-bred maidens. Racing secretary Mike Lakow did not want to run one if he could not run all three.

A half-inch of rain fell at Belmont on Thursday after the races. Porcelli said that a couple of jockeys and trainers complained earlier in the week that there were soft spots around the turn of the Widener turf.

Porcelli said the inner turf was usable because the rail position had been just been moved nine feet out from the hedge. Porcelli said NYRA had run 15 races on the Widener turf course at its present setting.

* Finery, the Beaugay winner who finished fourth in the Sheepshead Bay, worked five furlongs in 58.68 seconds over the main track Friday. She is being pointed to the New York Handicap on July 2.