03/13/2005 12:00AM

Mott sweeps Gulfstream turf stakes

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Matt Dean/EQUI-PHOTO
Sand Springs #6 (right) with Jerry Bailey edges out Potra Fabulous #2 and Javier Castellano to win the $100,000 Honey Fox Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Bill Mott has quietly had himself another good Gulfstream Park meeting, coming into the weekend's action second in the standings behind Todd Pletcher. But the nine time Gulfstream training champion made some real noise on Sunday when sweeping the $100,000 Canadian Turf and Honey Fox handicaps with Old Forester and Sand Springs.

Old Forester ($24.00) rallied from just off the pace under Eibar Coa to a 1.25 length victory over Gulch Approval in the one mile and one sixteenth . In the process, the 4-year-old son of Forestry set a new course record after covering the distance in 1:38.20 seconds. Old Forester is owned by Live Oak Plantation.

Sand Springs (13.20) led throughout then narrowly outlasted the late charging Potra Fabulous to post a nose decision in the Grade 3 .

Old Forester raced well placed behind the pace of Keep Cool in the Canadian Turf, eased out from behind traffic at the head of the stretch before overtaking Gulch Approval to win going away. Gulch Approval stalked the early leader, gained a slim lead in early stretch but proved no match for the winner while finishing a head in front of the 5-2 favorite Muqbil.

Sand Springs, who broke far behind her field when defeated as a 3-5 favorite in her first start of the meet, got away clean and set some rapid fractions in the Honey Fox. Despite the fast pace, jockey Jerry Bailey saved enough at the end to to just hold off the fast finishing Potra Fabulous and Shaconage who was also coming on well down the stretch.

Sand Springs was making just her second start for Mott after being purchased privately by the Sweetenham Stud during the fall of 2004.

"Bill said this would be the acid test for Old Forester today," said assistant trainer Ken McCarthy who saddled both Old Forester and Sand Springs in Mott's absence. "I think she's probably learned to sit back a little bit and finish better as she's gotten older. He hung at the end of his last start, he tends to pull himself up if he makes the lead too early, but Eibar got him to wait a little longer today. He rode a great race."

McCarthy said the key to Sand Springs' victory was the break.

"The break is everything with her," said McCarthy. "With her it's a simple game plan. If she breaks clean she's going to be on the lead and even though she set fast fractions she's the kind of filly who will gut it out to the end."