“We’ve had some nice horses coming into this race,” said Mott, who will saddle Donald Adams’ Adriano in the nine-furlong event on the turf. “It’s all timing. Horses tend to come around this time of the year. Also, all of those horses weren’t over-raced during the winter.”
“We should have won that race last year; it was one of those races where we should have won and didn’t,” said Mott, who still took the training title at Saratoga with 27 wins, 11 second-place finishes and 16 third-place runners from 95 starters. “He ran up behind horses and got caught up.”
Mott, who was still looking for his first Saratoga win going into Saturday’s card, got Adriano about three weeks before the colt’s fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Colonial Turf Cup over a soggy turf course at Colonial Downs.
“It was a quagmire,” Mott said. “I was seriously considering scratching him before the race mainly because it was unsafe. It was a pouring down rain. He was in good position, but he slipped around the turn and lost his stride.”
Prior to joining Mott’s barn, Adriano was considered for the Triple Crown after winning the Grade 2 Lane’s End Stakes at Turf way Park. In comparison to his usual off-the-pace running style, which helped him graduate from the maiden ranks here at Saratoga, Adriano was much closer to the Lane’s End pace.
“He seems pretty versatile,” Mott said. “I don’t think he has to be that far out of it. I think he can stay up within striking race. I still have a lot to learn about him.”
Trainer Michael Zwiesler, a former assistant to Neil Howard, returns to Saratoga with Will Farish’s Field Sport, who comes into the Hall of Fame Stakes off a third-place finish to older allowance horses at Delaware Park.
Zwiesler believes the colt can be a factor if the pace is conducive to his late-closing running style.
“He closed a lot of ground against older horses,” said Zwiesler, who is 0-for-3 at the Spa, including a seventh-place finish with Stay Close in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch last year. “If he gets a fast pace, he will close on them. He’s going to need to make a step up, but I think he will handle the mile and an eighth. I think he deserves a chance.”
Others taking a shot at Adriano include George Strawbridge Jr.’s undefeated Deal Making, who won his debut by a neck at Atlantic City, and then won an allowance race at Philadelphia Park and the Stanton Stakes at Delaware Park for H. Graham Motion.
Willsboro Point, who has won two of his last three races since being claimed for $35,000 by owner Bobbie Wooster and trainer Scott Schwartz, has won four of seven career races on the turf, including his victory in the French Colonial Stakes at Belmont Park.
Wesley moves back to the stakes level after winning his first race on the turf for Willmott Stables and trainer Mark Hennig. In his lone stakes race, the Barbaro at Pimlico, Wesley was last in the field of five that included eventual Belmont winner Da’Tara.
Trainer David Fawkes, last seen at Saratoga saddling Take D’Tour to a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Go for Wand Handicap in 2006, returns with Picou, a maiden winner at Delaware Park in June.
The field for Monday’s Grade 2, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame:
PP HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WEIGHT
1. Wesley Mark Hennig Javier Castellano 115
2. Adriano Bill Mott Edgar Prado 115
3. Willsboro Point Scott Schwartz Eibar Coa 120
4. Picou David Fawkes Julien Leparoux 115
5. Deal Making H. Graham Motion Ramon Dominguez 117
6. Thou Swell George Weaver Jean-Luc Samyn 115
7. Field Sport Michael Zwiesler Robby Albarado 115