Sunday, September 22, 2013


Belmont Park Notes


• Mott primed for big Super Saturday
• Plans undetermined for G2 Gallant Bloom winner Cluster of Stars; Justin Phillip to breeze Monday for G1 Vosburgh
• The Lumber Guy revving up for G1 Vosburgh defense


ELMONT, N.Y. - Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will be well-represented on Super Saturday with Royal Delta set to defend her title in the Grade 1 Beldame Invitational, Flat Out attempting to turn the hat trick in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational, Slumber heading to the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, Ron the Greek in either the Jockey Club Gold Cup or the Grade 2 Kelso Invitational Handicap and possibly White Rose for the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational.

"Slumber is doing well," said Mott of the 5-year-old British-bred son of Cacique, who won an optional claimer at Saratoga each of the past two summers for Mott. "He's 2-for-2 with us; it's only taken two years to get those wins, but he's doing fine. He's stepped up twice for us, and he hasn't done anything wrong, and he trains well. Hopefully, he'll figure."

Flat Out, winner of the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, has a record of 5-0-1 from six starts at Belmont Park and may be joined in the 1 ¼-mile race by Ron the Greek, sixth in last year's edition.

"Flat Out has never disappointed anybody here," said Mott of the 7-year-old, second by a head to Alpha in the Grade 1 Woodward last time out. "He's doing well and he certainly likes it here. With Ron the Greek, initially, it was my idea to try him at a flat mile, but I'm fine with it if the owners decide to go in the Jockey Club Gold Cup."

Two-time Eclipse Award winner Royal Delta has won her past two races by a combined winning margin of 15 ¼ lengths, most recently beating Authenticity in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga. In the Beldame, she will be confronted with a field that could include the Todd Pletcher-trained Authenticity and her stablemate, multiple Grade 1 winner Princess of Sylmar, star of the Kentucky Oaks, TVG Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama.

"She's a serious filly," said Mott of Princess of Sylmar, who will be facing older horses for the first time in the 1 1/8 mile Beldame. "You can't take her for granted. But Royal Delta is doing well. I would say it seems she's on the same path she was last year [en route to her second Breeders' Cup Distaff win]."

Mott reported that Close Hatches, who Saturday at Parx Racing added the Grade 1 Cotillion to her Grade 1 triumph in the Mother Goose, emerged from her victory in good order.

"She was a little fresh but she went right to the leaders and put them away and won the race," he said. "She did it with authority."

* * *

Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, on Sunday said Cluster of Stars exited her dominant victory in Saturday's Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap in good shape and that plans for her next start will be determined at a later date.

"She ate up, came out pretty happy with herself," said Sheets. "We're pretty happy with her, also. No definite plans. We're just kind of enjoying it."

The Gallant Bloom was Cluster of Stars' first start in more than five months. The New York-bred is unbeaten in six starts, but Sheets said she is unlikely to compete in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in November because she isn't nominated to the series.

Wherever she races next, Sheets knows owner Harvey Weinstein will be willing to wait for the ideal spot.

"[Weinstein] was very happy [with her Gallant Bloom win]," said Sheets. "He's been very patient with her. Most owners don't have that kind of patience. They're hard to come by."

Sheets added that Zayat Stables' Justin Phillip, winner of the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap in August at Saratoga Race Course, likely will turn in his final breeze for Saturday's Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational tomorrow morning, either at 8:45 on the main track or 9:30 on the training track. In his most recent start, Justin Phillip was third in the Grade 1 Forego on August 31 at the Spa.

* * *

Looking to defend his title in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational and earn a trip back to the Breeders' Cup Sprint is Barry Schwartz's The Lumber Guy, who came off a six-month layoff on August 23 to finish second in the restricted Chowder's First overnight stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

The gray Grand Slam colt has worked twice since, including a bullet five-furlong move in 59.44 on September 14, and is scheduled to have his final breeze for the Vosburgh either Monday or Tuesday, said trainer Mike Hushion.

"He's a big, strong horse and he hadn't really run his race since [finishing second to Trinniberg last year in] the Breeders' Cup," said Hushion of The Lumber Guy, who remained in California during the winter and finished seventh twice at Santa Anita, in the Grade 1 Malibu and the Grade 2 San Carlos. "At least, that's how I consoled myself after the race at Saratoga. But, between that race and his work on the 14th, there will be no excuses this time."

Overall, the 4-year-old New York-bred is 4-2-0 from 10 starts, with earnings of $756,300, including a victory in the Grade 2 Jerome in 2012.



Comments (0)

BallHype: hype it up!

Read more articles in the Belmont Park category.