It’s been a tremendous year so far for Bill Mott, who will attempt to add the prestigious Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr. I) to his list of accomplishments when he saddles grade I winners Ron the Greek and Flat Out in the 1 1/8-mile test Aug. 4.
Mott has taken over the training of both horses within the past year. He has turned Ron the Greek into one of the top older horses in the country and hopes to have similar success with Flat Out, who has already won the 2011 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) and Suburban Handicap under the care of Charles “Scooter” Dickey. The 6-year-old son of Flatter is owned by Preston Stables.
Mott began training Ron the Greek in July 2011 after majority interest in the horse was sold by Jack Hammer to Adam Wachtel, who is in partnership with his longtime friend Nils Brous. Since going to Mott, the 5-year-old son of Full Mandate has compiled a record of four wins and three seconds in seven starts, including victories in the grade I Santa Anita Handicap and Stephen Foster Handicap and a second in the grade II Oaklawn Handicap.
Prior to his transfer to the Mott stable, Ron the Greek had lost eight consecutive races, boasting only an earlier victory in the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds.
"I never look forward to running against myself," Mott said on a national teleconference July 31. "But they’re owned by different people and both horses deserve to be running. You can’t keep one in the barn when they’re both ready to race. The only other races for older horses are on a different surface, and I don’t want to run them on grass or synthetic.
"Ron the Greek has gone to battle a few times versus top competition and come out the winner. He’s really come around since the first of the year. He’s one of those horses that keeps grinding away, and if the pace is good he’s going to be a factor at the end. He’s bright, he looks good, and his works have been good. There’s no reason not to run him here. We’ve spaced his races well enough and he seems to be coming into this in good order."
Mott said if Ron the Greek does well in the Whitney he probably will bypass the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) on closing weekend of
Mott said he was lucky getting Ron the Greek at the right time. "I had horses for Adam Wachtel and Mr. Brous before and after they bought majority interest in him they sent him to me. He was one of those late developing horses. I don’t think anyone expected him to do what he’s done. We hoped he would improve and be able to run in good company. But we never thought he’d be running in the Whitney and winning two grade I’s. All you can do is the best you can and nurture them along."
As for Flat Out, he had a breakout year last year, winning the Suburban and Jockey Club Gold Cup and placing in the Whitney, Oaklawn Handicap, Clark Handicap (gr. I), and Lone Star Handicap (gr. III).
He will be making his second start for Mott, having finished second in the Monmouth Cup (gr. II) July 7. Prior to that in 2012 he was out of the money in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) and Fort Lauderdale Stakes.
"I haven’t had him long, but he’s been a very straightforward horse and a pleasure to train,” Mott said. “He’s a strong horse and willing to train. He’s had a little history with his feet, but we’ve had no issues so far. He came to me so he could train on the
Mott also has the talented To Honor Serve, whom he will point for the Woodward Stakes or the seven furlong Forego (gr. I).
"The challenge was to win the Met Mile (gr. I), but he had a rough trip and ran a very good race to finish third. We ran him back in Suburban, because we felt he needed another race before the Whitney. That didn’t turn out well. It was very hot and he didn’t respond in the heat. He became very agitated and ran a lackluster race to finish fourth. We decided to give him a little more time, and now we have the option of running in the Forego or the Woodward. I’d be fine with either one."
Mott said Royal Delta, coming off a victory in the Delaware Handicap (gr. II), is being pointed toward the Personal Ensign Stakes on Travers (gr. I) weekend.