Ten years ago, at the age of 45, Bill Mott became the youngest trainer ever inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame. On Monday, he'll recognize this year’s inductees, including trainer Carl Nafzger and jockey Edgar Prado, then later cross the street for the 24th edition of the stakes he has pretty much owned.
“We’ve had some nice horses coming into this race,” said Mott, who will saddle Donald Adams’ Adriano in the nine-furlong event for 3-year-olds 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.”
Two years before becoming the 1994 Eclipse male turf champion, Paradise Creek gave Mott his first Hall of Fame win. Mott’s other winners in this race are Sir Cat (1996), Baptize (2001), Stroll (2003) and After Market (2006). Last year, Mott just missed winning the race after Mercifully was caught in traffic and came up a half-length short to Nobiz like Shobiz.
“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 gained his first Saratoga win this year on the Aug. 2 card, got Adriano about three weeks before the colt’s fifth-place finish in the Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIIT) 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 Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway 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.”
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 May 17, Wesley was last in the field of five that included eventual Belmont winner Da’Tara.
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. Most recently, he captured 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.
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.
$150,000 National Museum Of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 5:30 p.m.), 3-Year-olds, 1 1/8 MIles (Turf)
PP. Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Wesley (KY), Javier Castellano, 115, 3/1
2. Adriano (KY), Edgar S. Prado, 115, 5/2
3. Willsboro Point (MD), Eibar Coa, 120, 4/1
4. Picou (FL), Julien R. Leparoux, 115, 15/1
5. Deal Making (PA), Ramon A. Dominguez, 117, 7/2
6. Thou Swell (KY), Jean-Luc Samyn, 115, 10/1
7. Field Sport (KY), Robby Albarado, 115, 8/1