07/30/2001 11:00PM

Mott sends in the Fleet to Haskell


OCEANPORT, N.J. - This Fleet Is Due, trained by Bill Mott, made his stakes debut on July 15 with a second-place finish in the Long Branch Stakes, the main prep for the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational. He will be making a return trip to Monmouth this Sunday for the $1.5 million Haskell, swelling the list of definites for Monmouth's premier event to six.

On Tuesday, Mott stated his plans to bring This Fleet Is Due, owned by Stonerside Stable, to Monmouth after the colt breezed five furlongs in 59.38 seconds over the Saratoga main track with blinkers on. Under exercise rider Dave Wallace, This Fleet Is Due galloped out strongly in 1:12.02. A son of Devil His Due, This Fleet Is Due has worn blinkers in all of his races but does not always work out with them.

"I figured he would do enough on his own, but I just wanted to make sure," said Mott on why This Fleet Is Due was equipped with blinkers for the workout. "This horse is doing awfully well. If he wasn't, I wouldn't even consider bringing him."

This Fleet Is Due was brought to the races as a 2-year-old under trainer Stanley Hough, but after finishing second in his career debut at Belmont, he was purchased from Robert and Bea Roberts by Stonerside Stable for $300,000. Since being moved to Mott's barn, he has never finished out of the money. He entered the Long Branch on a two-race winning streak, and lodged a strong showing versus his toughest competition to date.

At the start of the 1 1/16-mile Long Branch, This Fleet Is Due, who had been close to the pace in his previous starts, dropped back and rated in last through the backstretch. Under Robbie Davis, he rallied widest around the final turn, and put in a solid run for second, 1 1/4 lengths back of Burning Roma.

"He finished well in the Long Branch," said Mott. "On the first turn, he got back further than we wanted because there was a little roughhousing. I think Monmouth is a speed-favoring track, but he closed fairly well."

The 1 1/8 miles of the Haskell will be the longest start of This Fleet Is Due's career. Mott was undecided on who will ride This Fleet Is Due.

Stonerside Stable has had success in past Haskells: They owned a portion of 1997 winner Touch Gold and 1998 winner Coronado's Quest. Stonerside Stable also owns Congaree, who will start in the Jim Dandy a day earlier.

When asked about running up against division leader Point Given, Mott responded, "If you run second or third it is a successful trip, but you never know in horse racing."

Along with This Fleet Is Due and Point Given, the prospective field includes Touch Tone, Burning Roma, Hero's Tribute, and Jamaican Rum. The field could be between six and nine, as other likely starters are First Spear, Scorpion and Indygo Shiner.

Richly Blended sizzles

Richly Blended, rested since finishing 10th in the Preakness, returned to the track Sunday with a bang. Richly Blended, in his first workout in over two months, breezed three furlongs in a bullet 35.20 seconds, and galloped out faster than any other horse worked out. He galloped out a half-mile in 47.40 seconds and 1:00 for five furlongs.

Trainer Ben Perkins Jr. stated that Richly Blended, who was resting at owner Raymond Dweck's farm, is about a month or so away from returning to the races. He named the King's Bishop at Saratoga or a race the beginning of the Meadowlands meet as possible return opportunities. They will keep him at sprinting, as Richly Blended is 4 for 4 at distances up to a mile.

"It was a good workout for his first time back," said Perkins. "We'll keep him going one turn. There are plenty of opportunities for milers."

Richly Blended made it to the races as a 3-year-old, winning his maiden race by 15 lengths at Laurel in February. His only losses have come in routes, when he finished third in the Wood Memorial to Congaree and Monarchos and faded after setting the pace in the Preakness. He won the Grade 3 Gotham and Grade 3 Withers, both at Aqueduct.

Mazza has good-looking trio of juveniles

According to trainer John Mazza, Capture the Silver, a two-time winner here, will likely make his next start on Aug. 18 in the Grade 3 Sapling, the premier race for 2-year-olds here. Capture the Silver, a Jersey-bred, has been impressive in winning his maiden and taking an entry-level juvenile allowance.

Hit the Trail, also a state-bred, will debut later in the meet for Mazza. Hit the Trail, a son of Cahill Road, has been working up a storm in the mornings, including a bullet five-furlong workout of 59.80 seconds from the gate Saturday. He had been slated to debut Thursday, but Mazza said, "He's not ready to run. We'll give him a little more time before his first start."

The third horse in the talented trio of Mazza-trained Jersey-bred 2-year-olds, Wild Navigator, won a maiden race at 2-5 in the Sunday finale. Mazza said he will look for a route that will keep Wild Navigator from running against stablemate Capture the Silver.

* Silks, trained by Peter Walder, could be the lone speed factor in Thursday's feature, an optional claiming allowance at one mile. Silks enters the eighth race off two wire-to-wire claiming victories here, and will break from post 8 with Julian Pimentel aboard.