05/23/2010 11:00PM

Mott has plenty to smile about

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Bill Mott saddled Treat Gently for a win in Saturday's Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay.

ELMONT, N.Y. - As it went on, Bill Mott's weekend got progressively better.

It began Saturday afternoon when Treat Gently captured the Grade 2, $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes. On Sunday morning, Mott watched in awe as his Grade 1-winning mare Proviso sizzled in a workout over Belmont Park's turf course in preparation for the Grade 1 Just a Game on Belmont Stakes Day.

On Sunday afternoon, Mott unveiled a good-looking 3-year-old filly in Flawless, who rolled to a 13 1/4-length victory, running seven furlongs in 1:23.71 while being geared down late. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 89.

Flawless, a daughter of Mr. Greeley owned and bred by Peter Blum, showed good early speed, running an opening quarter in 22.80 seconds and a half-mile in 46.57. She was chased by Hey Hey Mama early and then confronted by Click Your Heels - a full sister to the Grade 1 winner Tapit - approaching the quarter pole before running away from that rival in the stretch.

"I thought the filly would win," Mott said. "If somebody beat her, they were going to have to be pretty good. However, I can't honestly say I thought she'd run off like that. When they came to her, I was hoping that she'd have enough to keep going. She did it in style."

Mott said he would like to "step her up gradually if possible," meaning he would like to run Flawless in an allowance race before tackling stakes company.

Several hours earlier, Mott watched Proviso work five furlongs on the turf in 59.52 seconds under jockey Kent Desormeaux. Tracking her workmate Dreamt throughout the move, it looked like Proviso would be content to sit behind her to the wire. But inside the final sixteenth, Desormeaux took Proviso to the outside and she motored past her workmate.

"Just awesome," Mott said. "She does what you want her to. She's been off for some time; we decided to her work a little bit."

Proviso has not been out since beating males in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Handicap at Santa Anita on March 6. Mott said Proviso began to grow a winter coat after that race, and with nothing on the horizon, the decision was made to keep her in light training and point to the $400,000 Just a Game.

"She was doing well, she just grew a little bit of a coat," Mott said. "She seems to be starting to brighten up now; her works have been good. It looks like she's benefited from the little break that she's had. We didn't take her out of training, we backed off and took it a little easier on her for the first month."

Treat Gently bounced back from a couple of poor efforts to win Saturday's Sheepshead Bay by 4 1/2 lengths. It was her first graded stakes victory in North America. She was a Group 2 winner in France.

Mott said he was impressed by the way Treat Gently relaxed behind the moderate pace set by Pari, before taking charge just before the quarter pole under Desormeaux.

"She settled nicely; filly's always had a little bit of a tendency to be a little bit anxious," Mott said. "He got along with her real well. She was second behind the pacesetter and seemed willing to wait for his cue."

Mott said if Treat Gently bounces back well enough, she could run in the New York Stakes on June 19. He is pointing Changing Skies to that race as well.

Gio Ponti still targeting Manhattan

Despite a couple of minor setbacks, dual Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti remains a candidate for the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap on June 5, trainer Christophe Clement said. Gio Ponti hasn't raced since finishing fourth in the Dubai World Cup on March 27.

On May 16, Gio Ponti worked too slowly over the Belmont Park turf course to be credited with a published workout. Clement said that was due to an error on the part of the exercise rider. Gio Ponti did not work Sunday because Clement decided to go conservatively after the horse coughed two days last week. Clement said Gio Ponti did not miss any training time due to the cough.

"I didn't want to stress him," Clement said. "He'll work at the latest Sunday, he might work before that. I've been very happy with the horse since he returned from Dubai. He seemed good the last two or three days."

Clement also is considering running Winchester in the Manhattan and would certainly consider it if the course came up soft. Winchester won an allowance race at Keeneland on April 21. On Sunday, Winchester worked four furlongs in 49.60 seconds in company with the undefeated 3-year-old Nordic Truce, who is being pointed to the Hill Prince on June 4.

'Eightyfive' set for Woody Stephens

Trainer Gary Contessa said the speedy Eightyfiveinafifty was "on schedule" for a start in the Grade 2, $250,000 Woody Stephens on the Belmont undercard after the colt worked a sharp six furlongs in 1:11.84 Sunday morning at Aqueduct.

With regular exercise rider Nick Santagata in the irons, Eightyfiveinafifty was timed in fractions of 13.33 seconds, 25.33, 36.63, 48.18, and was caught galloping out seven furlongs in 1:25.46.

After winning the Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct on April 3, Eightyfiveinafifty finished fourth in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs on April 24.

"He's certainly on schedule for the Woody Stephens and he's doing really well," Contessa said. "I believe the track knocked him out a little bit in Churchill -- I don't believe he particularly cared for that sloppy track. He's going to work again next Sunday or Monday, but I would say we're on schedule."

Negligee pointing to Sands Point

Negligee is a Grade 1 winner on synthetic and ran a solid second in her turf debut in last month's

Edgewood Stakes. And while her next start will also come on turf - in Monday's Grade 2, $150,000 Sands Point Stakes - trainer John Terranova also is looking forward to trying her on dirt one day.

On Monday, Negligee worked six furlongs in 1:14.46 over Belmont's main track. It was her first work on a dirt surface since the spring when she was firing bullets over the dirt surface at Palm Meadows.

"She worked beautiful, fantastic," Terranova said. "I should run her on dirt; one day I will."

Negligee won the Grade 1 Alcibiades over the Polytrack at Keeneland last fall before finishing sixth, beaten less than two lengths in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface. After finishing next-to-last in the Ashland at Keeneland off a six-month layoff, Negligee ran a solid second to Dynazaper in the Edgewood at Churchill.

In that race, Negligee wanted to do more than jockey Javier Castellano allowed her to do early.

"She didn't get a chance to get into a rhythm and had a little too much to do," Terranova said.

Prior to Monday's work, Negligee worked a strong half-mile in 48.19 seconds over Belmont's turf course on May 16.