07/21/2007 12:00AM

Mott's monopoly continues


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Robby Albarado won four races to start the Arlington card Saturday, but that wasn't the most important win streak pertaining to the chances of Lattice in the American Derby. Bill Mott has made a cottage industry out of winning the American Derby, and Lattice gave the Mott barn three consecutive victories in the Grade 2, $250,000 race.

Lattice, owned by Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm, won his first stakes race in his fifth career start, finishing strongly on the outside to win by three-quarters of a length over Going Ballistic. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to 56-1 Eighteenthofmarch, who was followed by 3-2 favorite Pleasant Strike, and 2-1 second-choice Perfect Casting.

Mott said this week that Lattice figured to improve with more experience and more distance as the year went on, and when he had finished fourth last out in the Jefferson Cup, there was no pace to set up his closing kick. The American Derby, run over 1 3/16 miles on "good" turf, had a completely different pace scenario, with Lovango going out to the front and knocking out fast fractions of 23.05 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.22 to the half.

Albarado and Lattice actually were surprisingly close considering those splits, sitting fifth on the backstretch and into the far turn. Albarado let his mount move up gradually around the far turn, then let him go as the horses straightened away. Lattice responded, and looked like a sure winner from the eighth pole home.

"He's a nice colt, and getting better all the time," said Albarado, who finished the day with five winners.

Lattice ($9.40) was timed in 1:54.85.

Trainer Dermot Weld said the Irish colt Perfect Casting "got a little keen" in his U.S. debut, tugging hard early on while close to the pace. He could return for the Secretariat Stakes.

Pleasant Strike, an impressive winner of the Arlington Classic here last out, could not reproduce his strong finishing kick after racing in good position.

"He didn't respond like last time," jockey Rene Douglas said.

Arlington Cap: Cosmonaut repeats

Cosmonaut ($3.40) did the expected, scoring a comfortable victory for the second straight year in the Arlington Handicap. Fifth in last year's Arlington Million, Cosmonaut will try again this year three weeks from now.

"I think that he's a better horse than last year," trainer Patrick Biancone said.

I Believe In Me left his outside post running Saturday, but ceded the early lead to Cosmonaut, who dawdled through a slow pace (49.60 seconds to the half-mile) under jockey Julien Leparoux. I Believe In Me kept Cosmonaut company down the backstretch while never really turning up the heat, and those two were well clear going to the half-mile pole. The second flight, which included second-choice Go Between and third-choice Revved Up, closed the gap around the far turn, but Cosmonaut had plenty left for the stretch. He pulled away late to win by 2 1/4 lengths, with Revved Up easily second over Go Between. Cosmonaut, the property of the Flying Zee Stable, was timed in 2:01.32 for 1 1/4 miles on grass.

Modesty: Bridge Game settles in for win

Bridge Game's handlers couldn't keep her on the ground in the paddock before the Modesty Handicap, but her prerace antics had no bearing on her performance, as Bridge Game stormed home to a 1 1/2-length win over a tough-luck Jennie R.

The 4-year-old Bridge Game ($17.40), winning her first stakes for owner Elisabeth Alexander and trainer Graham Motion, was held up behind Jennie R.'s fast pace by jockey Jeremy Rose, who swung her wide for a final run just past the eighth pole. Bridge Game kicked into gear, and ran past a tiring Jennie R. in the final yards.

It was a visually impressive performance, and all the more so considering that Bridge Game, apparently a temperamental sort, had flipped three times while being saddled for the Grade 3, $150,000 Modesty.

"She terrified me," said Motion's assistant, Mary Jo Trotter.

Jennie R. stumbled leaving the gate, and that might have cost her, as she rushed up to set a fast pace under Larry Sterling. The half-mile went in a quick 47.68 seconds, with Jennie R. alone on the lead and Bridge Game held up near the back by Rose. Jennie R. came into the stretch with plenty left, opening up by a couple lengths before the eighth pole, but Bridge Game emerged from a generally floundering pack of challengers and burst to the front.

Bridge Game was timed in 1:54.62 for 1 3/16 miles on turf.