Last early in a field of seven, Edmund Gann’s 4-year-old Motovato rallied to win the Dec. 26 Kenny Noe Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) by a neck over Dream Maestro. The son of Proud Citizen covered the seven furlongs in 1:24.44 in the first of three stakes at Calder Casino and Race Course during its Grand Slam program.
Ridden by Elvis Trujillo, Motovato was caught in tight at the start, but settled in as the Argentine-bred Pechito set quick early fractions of :22.45 and :46.04 over the track that was rated fast. At the top of the lane Motovato was steadied and forced to alter his course to the outside looking for room before commencing his rally. Pechito tired in the lane as Prince Joshua took command after six furlongs in 1:11.58, but the leader gave way to Motovato and Dream Maestro in the lane. Prince Joshua finished third, three lengths behind the runner-up.
“He broke a bit slow and that caused us to get tangled up leaving the gate, so I just let him sit back and waited until he was ready to run in the stretch,” said Trujillo. “By the time we reached the quarter-pole, he was just begging me to let him go, but I didn’t have any room to get through. As soon as there was a little chance, I switched him to the outside and he took off from there.”
“He didn’t break good again today, and with the trip he was getting down the backstretch, I thought he’d be lucky to hit the board, but he was just so much the best,” said winning trainer Marty Wolfson. “He’s been training great. He should have won his last race (second in the Oct. 17 Spend a Buck Handicap, gr. III). He got in a lot of trouble that day. We’ll save You and I Forever (scratched from Kenny Noe, Jr.) for the Hal’s Hope next weekend (Jan. 3 at Gulfstream Park).”
Motovato returned $8.00, $4.40, and $4.60; Dream Maestro paid $11.60, and $7.80; and Prince Joshua paid $4.00 to show.
It was the fifth career win for Motovato, a bay colt out of the Slew City Slew mare Buffalo Bird Woman. Bred in Kentucky by Elizabeth Jones and Brownell Alexander, Motovato has won two other stakes at Calder this year: the April 25 Sumter Stakes at a mile and 70 yards and the 1 1/8-mile Primal Stakes that was run June 27. In his previous start he was second, beaten 2 3/4 lengths by Mambo Meister in the Spend a Buck.
Motovato was sold as a weanling at the Keeneland November sale in 2005. Consigned by Brereton C. Jones, agent, the colt sold for $150,000 to Falling Springs Farm. The following year at the Keeneland September yearling sale, he was sold by Woods Edge Farm, agent, to Mike Ryan, agent, for $75,000. Motovato was a RNA at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s March sale of 2-year-olds in 2007.
The Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap was named for Calder’s president and general manager from 1979-90. Among his many accomplishments at the South Florida track was the creation, with other owners and breeders, of the Florida Stallion Stakes program that began in 1982.