04/18/2007 11:00PM

Mott stays hot with Moudez


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott completed a sweep of the two turf stakes for 3-year-olds at the Keeneland spring meet when Moudez gamely fought off Bullara to win the 22nd running of the $112,100 Forerunner Stakes on a chilly Thursday afternoon.

With Cornelio Velasquez aboard, Moudez moved inside of Bullara and Trimaran to challenge for the lead leaving the backstretch, then never relinquished his position or narrow advantage when outdueling Bullara to prevail by three-quarters of a length. Trimaran was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third in the 1 1/8-mile turf race, in which few changes in running position occurred from start to finish.

"The pace didn't develop," said Mott. "Everybody was keeping their horses in reserve for the finish, so they bunched up a little bit." Moudez, he added, "was able to hold them off in spite of it."

For Mott, the Forerunner was his third stakes win of a nine-day-old meet. He also sent out Marcavelly, another 3-year-old turf specialist, to win the Transylvania Stakes on opening day, April 6, and My Typhoon to upset Wait a While in the Jenny Wiley last Saturday.

Moudez returned $6 as the slight favorite after finishing in 1:50.16 over a course rated firm. An Irish-bred by Xaar, the colt was coming off a three-length victory in an entry-level turf allowance last month at Gulfstream Park. He is owned by Zayat Stables LLC.

Pletcher has two for turf sprint

Besides the Lexington Stakes, the Saturday program also features the $100,000 Giant's Causeway, a 5 1/2-furlong turf race for fillies and mares.

As so often happens, trainer Todd Pletcher holds a strong hand. Pletcher will be represented by California shippers Forest Code, a speedy and consistent filly who was narrowly beaten in a Santa Anita turf stakes last out, and South Necking, a sharp winner at Bay Meadows in her last start.

Kiaran McLaughlin, with Serena's Cat and Madam Manguy, also has an uncoupled duo, while Michael Matz, who started this meet by winning with three of his first five starters, has a solid contender in Costume Designer. In all, 14 were entered, but only 12 can start.

The Giant's Causeway, formerly known as the Stravinsky, is carded as the seventh of 10 races. The 2006 winner was Gilded Gold, trained by Alan Goldberg and ridden by Javier Castellano.

Hall of Fame jockeys honored

Keeneland celebrated the Hall of Fame careers of eight fabulously successful jockeys Wednesday by staging a variety of public appearances and activities throughout the afternoon. The jockeys honored were Don Brumfield, Steve Cauthen, Angel Cordero Jr., Pat Day, Earlie Fires, Chris McCarron, Gary Stevens, and Bobby Ussery.

Among the remarks aired on in-house television monitors during the day was this from Cauthen: "After I won the Triple Crown on Affirmed, I remember people saying we need to make winning it more difficult."

No horse has won the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.

"I think it'll happen again, hopefully sooner than later," said Cauthen.

Brass Hat back in training

Brass Hat returned to training last week at Churchill Downs after being given clearance by veterinarians following his recuperation from a non-displaced sesamoid fracture suffered last July in his right front ankle.

Brass Hat, a 6-year-old gelding trained by Buff Bradley, won the Donn and Louisiana handicaps early last year before finishing second - although ultimately disqualified for a medication violation - in the Dubai World Cup.

* Twelve 3-year-old fillies, plus two also-eligibles, have been entered for the Sunday feature, the $100,000 Appalachian Stakes at a mile on the turf. Leading contenders include Rutherienne, unbeaten in two starts; Audacious Chloe, a two-time stakes winner trained by Pletcher; and Ciao, making her first start since capturing an overnight stakes last fall at Churchill Downs.

* Jockey Garrett Gomez has been held blameless by the Keeneland stewards for his role in the disqualification of his mount, Tactical Candy, from second to fourth following the fourth race Wednesday.

* Jockey Mark Guidry inched closer to the 5,000-win milestone when he rode Acadia Breeze to victory in the third race Thursday. Guidry, who recently announced he plans to retire in August, had 4,996 career wins going into the Friday card.

* The Louisville Thoroughbred Club will conduct a charity auction that will include halters worn by Kentucky Derby winners Thunder Gulch, Fusaichi Pegasus, Monarchos, Smarty Jones, and Giacomo at its eighth annual Kentucky Derby Preview Party, to be held April 28 at the Derby Museum in Louisville. More information on the event is available by e-mailing info@thoroughbredclub.org.

* Joe Johnson, the veteran jockey who will ride High Heels as one of the favorites in the May 4 Kentucky Oaks, has hired Tony King as his new agent.