Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said all three of his Breeders' Cup Classic horses -- Flat Out, To Honor and Serve, and Ron the Greek -- traveled well from the East Coast Monday and went to the track for light exercise Tuesday morning.
Mott has started more than 20,700 horses in a career that started in 1973 and said he couldn't recall having three starters in such a high-level stakes race.
"That probably takes the cake," he said. "It's pretty unusual to have three horses of that quality in that type of race. I guess you see sometimes people have three two-year-olds in a race. Usually you don't see somebody with that many older horses in one division."
Mott won the 2011 Classic with Drosselmeyer and is in position to win the race in back-to-back years. The only trainer to repeat in the Classic was Jay Robbins, who won the race with Hall of Famer Tiznow in 2000 and 2001. He would also become the first trainer to win three Breeders' Cup Classics, having also trained the 1995 winner Cigar.
"I'm not trying to do it just because we did it last year," Mott said. "I feel no pressure incentive to do that. I just want to do it because we're in there. I've got three good horses in the Classic and I think any one of them could win the race on their big day. On their best day they could be factors. I wouldn't rule any one of them out.
"And if you really asked me who I would pick, one over the other, I couldn't do it. That's how well they're doing."
Flat Out, who was fifth in the 2011 Classic at Churchill Downs, won the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 29 for the second year in a row. Ron the Greek has a win over the track in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap on March 3. The son of Full Mandate also won the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap this year. To Honor and Serve was seventh in the Classic last year. He earned a return trip to the Breeders' Cup with a win in the Grade 1 Woodward on September 1 at Saratoga.
An elated Jerry Hollendorfer looked on Tuesday morning as his Classic prospect Nonios zipped through a four-furlong workout in an official :46 2/5, the best of 19 on the Santa Anita worktab. The Hall of Fame trainer caught the three-year-old son of 2003 Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect in :47 2/5 and said of the move, "It was perfect."
"He went a little faster than I expected, but I told (jockey) Martin (Pedroza) to let him go if he was doing things easy. He was doing it that way; pretty much breezing."
Hollendorfer broke down his clocking by eighths this way: :12 2/5, :23 3/5, :35 2/5 on the way to final time.
"He went the last three-eighths in 11 and change each," he said.
As for the rest of the week's training, Hollendorfer said, "He'll walk tomorrow and then stand in the gate Thursday and maybe Friday."
In other Classic news:
Mucho Macho Man, who is scheduled for a flight to California Wednesday morning, jogged around the shedrow at Belmont Park Tuesday morning.
The Grade 2 Suburban Handicap winner might have company on a scheduled flight out of Newburgh (New York) Airport at 8:15 a.m (EDT). Wednesday. Trainer Kathy Ritvo may end up accompanying her multiple-stakes winner.
"So far, I am, unless something else comes up, I'm just going to fly with him," Ritvo said. "Hopefully we get out of here at a good time and get out there."
Mucho Macho Man was originally slated to fly from New York on Tuesday morning, but the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy on the Northeast forced a postponement and made it difficult for his trainer to book a flight for herself. Ritvo understands that the situation is not ideal.
"We're missing a day of training, which is probably not great, but he's doing so good, I think we'll be OK," Ritvo said.
Trainer Ian Wilkes admits he never expected Fort Larned to be among the favorites for the $5 million Classic after his victory in the Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on March 3.
"I'd be kidding if I said I thought he would get this good," Wilkes said. "At the beginning of the year, we weren't talking about the Breeders' Cup. But he showed a lot of talent early in his career, and as the year went on he got better and better."
Fort Larned, winner of the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap two starts back and third as the favorite in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup most recently, is the co-second choice for Saturday's Classic Anita at odds of 5-1 along with Gold Cup hero Flat Out. The E Dubai colt has seven victories from 18 starts and career earnings of $981,236.
"If he runs his race, I believe he is going to have as good a shot as anyone," Wilkes said. "These kind of races are what you are in the game for, and it makes for fun times.
"Horses know when they win, and he is a very confident horse now," Wilkes added. "When he turned four, he went from being a boy to a man, and he has become a much bigger, stronger horse. He has matured a lot mentally and physically he has developed into a big, long-striding, robust horse."