Barn Notes from Churchill Downs
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, a model of consistency himself, sent three of his eight Breeders' Cup hopefuls to the main track at Belmont Park Wednesday morning, and the trio came back with identical results. Hap (Mile) and Vision and Verse (Classic) both breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5, with King Cugat (Mile) going a half in :48 3/5 and galloping out in -- you guessed it -- 1:01 2/5.
"That's the way we like to construct this whole thing," deadpanned Mott. "It's part of our parity plan. That way we can't play favorites."
Hap, winner of the Fourstardave and Bernard Baruch at Saratoga, King Cugat, who counts the Jamaica Handicap, the Arlington Classic and the Jefferson Cup among his six victories this year, and Vision and Verse will be shipped to Churchill Downs on Saturday along with Subtle Power (Turf), Snow Polina (Filly and Mare Turf), and Dream Supreme (Sprint). Mongoose (Juvenile) and Down The Aisle (Turf) are already in Louisville.
"They all went well this morning," reported Mott. "Vision and Verse went the last quarter in :22 and change. He finished up nicely. I thought he performed very well in his last race [third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on seven days' rest]. I don't think he's as talented as Fusaichi Pegasus but we think he's doing well and can have a good payday. And who knows? Stranger things have happened in horse racing."
Mott characterized his entire entourage in a similar fashion.
"It's a good, steady bunch," said the trainer, whose 31 Breeders' Cup starters have finished in the money 15 times, with five victories. "They're not holding a gun on anyone, but they're training well and have a reason to run. If they run their best races, we would have a good payday."
Of particular interest is the 3-year-old filly Dream Supreme, who is owned by George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Stables. Right now, Steinbrenner is more involved in the World Series, which his Yankees led 2 games to 1 heading into Wednesday night's game against the Mets at Shea Stadium.
"I have been watching the games, but I fall asleep before they're over," confessed Mott.
On Oct. 7, Dream Supreme won her third straight graded stake when she added the Gallant Bloom to her victories in the Test and Ballerina Stakes.
"We think her running style and the fact she is adaptable to any speed scenario would be to her advantage," said Mott. "She is a 3-year-old filly going against older colts [but] there is plenty of speed in the race, and with her ability to go that could be to her advantage."
Mott said Dream Supreme, who went five furlongs Tuesday at Belmont in 1:01 flat, came out of the work in good order. At Churchill Downs Tuesday, Down the Aisle went 7 furlongs in 1:33 while Mongoose went 6 furlongs in 1:13.
"I think Mongoose is a nice colt," said Mott of the winner of the Cradle Stakes, who was fifth in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in his last start. "He can't be written off. Some of those in the race are more accomplished, but he's a developing kind of horse with a reasonably good future. He's by Broad Brush, and they tend to develop later. I don't think we've seen the best of him yet."
Mott, who will arrive in Kentucky on Saturday or Sunday, added that Snow Polina, winner of the Black Helen and the Beverly D, will have one more work before her engagement in the Filly and Mare Turf. Assistant trainer Kenny McCarthy will accompany the six horses on the plane.
"Like I said, they're a very steady bunch," said Mott, adding with a smile: "Secretly, I may have private thoughts on which ones I think [will do better than others], but I prefer to keep those thoughts to myself. Otherwise, you can set yourself up for a big fall."