Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott sent out winner No. 4,000 Aug. 7 when Sequoia Racing’s Mystic won the seventh race at Saratoga Race Course under jockey Kent Desormeaux. It was another milestone in a storied career for the conditioner who earlier this year won his first classic race with Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Drosselmeyer.
The 57-year-old Mott, best known for campaigning two-time Horse of the Year Cigar, reached win No. 3,999 the day before with the 2-year-old filly Avanta in Saratoga’s second race.
“Four thousand is a big number and I guess, to some extent, it’s an elite club and I’m happy to do it,” said Mott. “I thought we might have to wait until the end of the month the way you get hung up on these things. You get to the last one and sometimes you have to wait – I’ve seen it happen with numerous jockeys and ballplayers. It’s nice to have it today, it’s a nice, sunny day in Saratoga and I’m glad it happened here. This is a very special place to have it happen. I’ll always remember it.”
The Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s top trainer in 1995 and 1996, Mott was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 1998 at the age of 45, the youngest trainer to achieve the honor. He was won 19 individual training titles at New York Racing Association tracks, including nine at Saratoga, most recently in 2007.
Mott’s first winner came at age 15, when he won a race at the bush tracks in South Dakota. He went on to campaign dozens of graded stakes winners, including five Eclipse Award winners: Theatrical, top male turf horse of 1987; Paradise Creek, top male turf horse of 1994; Escena, top older female of 1998, Ajina; top 3-year-old filly of 1997; and Cigar, who in addition to Horse of the Year honors in 1995 and 1996 was also twice voted the top older male.
“There have been such a multitude of people that have really helped,” Mott added. “It’s not me that got four thousand winners, it’s the entire crew – past assistants and grooms and hotwalkers and riders and such a multitude of owners. I’ve had so much help along the way, so much backing and moral support, and there’s been a lot of hard work involved. I commend my assistants past and present for the good job that they’ve done.”