Friday, August 14, 2009


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Marty and Pam Wygod’s Courageous Cat gave Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott his sixth victory in the Grade 2, $160,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes Friday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course, surging to the front as the field turned for home and going on to a 1¾-length victory over Sal the Barber.

A brother to 2006 Hall of Fame Stakes winner After Market, Courageous Cat stayed just off early fractions of 23.32 and 47.19 set by favored Straight Story over the firm turf course, then grabbed the lead from the tiring pacesetter in the stretch and held off the late surge from Sal the Barber to hit the wire in 1:45.90 for the 1 1/8th miles.

“I always try to do it, if I can, I think we’ve won it a few times before,” said Mott, who was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 1998 at age 45, the youngest trainer ever to be so honored.

Greeting Mott in the winner’s circle after the race were several of today’s Hall of Fame inductees, including trainer Bob Baffert, jockey Eddie Maple, and steeplechase trainer Janet Elliott.

“These people get inducted and it’s kind of a little club and a very special one,” said Mott. “You’re in there with your peers and it’s nice to be associated with these people and recognized by them when you have the chance.”

The victory was the third straight for Courageous Cat, who broke his maiden in his third start at Belmont Park on June 10 and next won an overnight stakes there on July 19. Like After Market, who was also trained by Mott and owned by the Wygods, Courageous Cat is a son of Storm Cat out of the Rahy mare Tranquility Lake.

“This horse is probably a little quicker than [After Market] was,” said Mott. “Maybe he has a little more natural speed [and is] quicker on his feet. Both horses have slightly different qualities; [After Market] was a bigger, rangier horse. That being said, both nice horses, and I guess both of ‘em won this race.”

Sal the Barber was a neck in front of Al Khali, who is also trained by Mott, with No Inflation, Midnight Mischief, Lime Rickey, Out at Night, Straight Story, Conservative and El Crespo completing the order of finish.

Sent off as the second choice by the crowd of 23,276, Courageous Cat returned $9.10 for a $2 win bet as he extended his record to 3-1-0 from six starts and his bankroll to $181,300.

“The sky’s the limit for this horse the way carried me today,” said Courageous Cat’s Hall of Fame jockey, Kent Desormeaux. “He’s a very nice horse. He’ll win a Grade 1. He’s come around; three in a row now. He’s going to be something special. I was looking forward to winning it.”

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