09/06/2009 11:00PM

Mushka ensures a good ending for Mott

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. With so much attention centered on the battle for leading trainer between Linda Rice and Todd Pletcher, nine-time Saratoga meet champion trainer Bill Mott got lost in the shuffle.

But Mott closed the Saratoga season in fine fashion, winning two races on Monday s card, including the Grade 3, $110,500 with Mushka, who took a 1 1/4-length decision over Lemonette, who nosed out Queen of Hearts for second.

Mott ended the meet in third-place in the standings with 18 wins including four stakes two behind Rice and one behind Pletcher.

"We had a great meet," said Mott, who also won Sunday s Grade 3 Saranac with Al Khali."I m very pleased with our meet. All our horses ran very well. Obviously, you're always going to have a few disappointments. We [had] a lot of seconds and thirds; a lot of seconds were very close. Hopefully some of those horses turn into winners next time they run.

Mushka, a 4-year-old daughter of Empire Maker, finally became a graded stakes winner on turf in her seventh attempt. As a 2-year-old, Muska won the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct on dirt.

Jockey Kent Desormeaux kept Mushka in second position while Zaskar, under Javier Castellano, ran off on the lead while setting fractions of 23.93 seconds, 48.06, 1:12.28. and 1:38.15 for a mile.

Mushka came outside of Zaskar at the quarter pole then persevered through the lane under a busy Desormeaux. Mushka, owned by Elizabeth Moran s Brushwood Stable, covered the 1 3/8 miles over firm turf in 2:13.50 and returned $7.40 as the favorite.

"She cornered in hand, and I hadn't encouraged her to run yet," Desormeaux said. "She started lengthening her stride, so she was telling me she wanted to go faster."

Desormeaux won 26 races, seven stakes, five of which were graded. Desormeaux finished in a tie for fifth in the standings with John Velazquez.

Mott said a race like the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park on Oct. 3 or the $1 million E.P. Taylor at Woodbine on Oct. 17 could be next for Mushka.