09/05/2009 11:00PM

Mott makes right choice with Al Khali


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Bill Mott gave himself options this weekend with his promising 3-year-old turf horse Al Khali, entering him in Saturday's $250,000 Kent Breeders' Cup at Delaware and Sunday's $107,000 Saranac Stakes at Saratoga.

Though he opted for the lesser pot, Mott found himself in the winner's circle after Al Khali swept past Reservoir in midstretch and bounded home a 1 1/4-length victory over longshot El Crespo in the It was a neck back to Armstrong Mill in third.

"I like to run in New York," Mott, who won this race for the third time, said afterward. "We didn't have to ship. He's coming off only three weeks' rest; I didn't want to have to van him down there. I knew he ran well over this course before, our weather was pretty good, and I just wanted to take a chance here."

Al Khali was coming off a third-place finish to the Mott-trained Courageous Cat in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes here on Aug. 14. In that race, Al Khali ran into some traffic trouble under Norberto Arroyo Jr. in upper stretch, which probably cost him second.

On Sunday, with Kent Desormeaux up, Al Khali raced in fifth position, in between El Crespo and Blank Check while Sal the Barber set a leisurely pace of 23.54 seconds and 48.13 for the opening half-mile.

Leaving the five-sixteenths pole, jockey Kent Desormeaux asked Al Khali to accelerate and he quickly moved to Reservoir, who had taken over from Sal the Barber in upper stretch. Al Khali opened up at the eighth pole, and despite changing back to his left lead late came home an easy winner.

Al Khali, a son of Medaglia d'Oro owned by Brous Stable and Wachtel Stable, covered the 1 1/8 miles over a firm Mellon Turf Course in 1:53 and returned $5.40 to win.

"He accelerated nicely today," Mott said. "It looked like he accelerated nicely the last race, but had a little traffic trouble. A horse drifted out in front of him when he was making his move and he had to alter course."

While Mott will likely run Courageous Cat in the Grade 1 Jamaica at Belmont on Oct. 10, Al Khali could be a candidate for the Grade 3, $150,000 Calder Derby on Oct. 17 or the Grade 3, $125,000 Bryan Station at Keeneland the following day.

Cannonball wins Commentator

Cannonball, dropping out of two Grade 1 races into New York-bred company, wore down Silver Timber in the final strides to win the $74,700 Commentator Stakes by a neck. It was a half-length back to Ahvee's Destiny in third.

Under Ramon Dominguez, Cannonball ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:00.84 over the Mellon Turf Course, just missing the course record of 1:00.66 set by Lady Rizzi in 2008. Cannonball returned $4.60 as the favorite.

Cannonball, a 4-year-old son of Catienus owned and bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Wesley Ward, was making his first start since getting beat a neck in the Grade 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The Commentator was named to honor the recently retired 8-year-old gelding who won the Whitney Handicap twice and earned more than $2 million. Commentator led the post parade for the race and was presented with an edible key to the city.