08/27/2012 5:56PM

Saratoga: Mott makes no excuses

Barbara D. Livingston
Royal Delta may make her next start in the Beldame at Belmont or the Spinster at Keeneland.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Bill Mott reported Monday that his Eclipse champion Royal Delta was doing well following her surprising second-place finish behind Love and Pride the previous afternoon in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign.

Mott offered few excuses for Royal Delta, whose belated rally fell a half-length short of catching the winner, conceding that while his horse didn’t run badly, the Personal Ensign probably wasn’t her best effort.

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“The only thing I’m happy about is that she came back in good order,”said Mott. “She gave the winner 10 pounds, which could have been the difference, and she seemed a little heated up more than normal going to the gate, which was a little unusual for her. But apart from that, I thought she actually had a good trip, was in good position, and we didn’t catch her. The pace wound up slower than we anticipated after It’s Tricky stumbled, and maybe that filly would have won if she hadn’t. Considering the start she had, It’s Tricky had the most to overcome. We’ll just have to regroup and come back and get them another day.”

Mott said the two most likely options for Royal Delta’s next start would either be the Beldame at Belmont Park on Sept. 29 or Keeneland’s Spinster the following weekend.

Mott also said that To Honor and Serve is ready to go in Saturday’s Grade 1 Woodward following an easy half-mile breeze in 49.83 over a somewhat cuppy Oklahoma training track on Monday. To Honor and Serve has not started since finishing fourth as the 7-5 favorite in the Grade 2 Suburban.

“We skipped the Whitney to give him a little more time between races but also to get out of the hottest weather,” said Mott. “Even if it’s 80 on Saturday that’s fine. It was 97 on Suburban Day and 95 I think on Whitney Day. The heat, that’s my excuse for the Suburban.”

To Honor and Serve wasn’t the only prospective Woodward starter to blow out an easy half-mile on Monday. At the main track, Cease cruised four furlongs in 49 seconds and galloped out five-eighths in 1:03, much to the satisfaction of his trainer, Al Stall Jr.

“He had his big work last week, we don’t have to do anything more with him,” said Stall. “He’s already run a mile and one-eighth over this track earlier in the meet – we’re already there.”

Cease and To Honor and Serve are expected to be part of a small Woodward field also likely to include Mucho Macho Man, Rule, Stay Thirsty, and possibly either Isn’t He Perfect or Trickmeister.