Mott breaks out with huge weekend

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – A quarantine at his Payson Park base limited the number of starts Bill Mott’s horses could make over the last month, but last Saturday, he made up for lost time, winning stakes races at three locations.

At Gulfstream, Mott won the $75,000 Sanibel Island with Harmonize, who had been slated to run in a race at Tampa Bay Downs two weeks earlier. At Fair Grounds, Mott won the Grade 2, $300,000 Mervin Muniz Memorial with Take the Stand. At Santa Anita, Mott won the Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Ana with the 6-year-old mare Tuttipaesi. Those three victories were part of a five-win Saturday for the Hall of Fame trainer.

“It sounds crazy, but maybe the quarantine forced us to go to California,” Mott said of Tuttipaesi’s win.

Mott said there were other spots where Tuttipaesi could have run. He said that Megan Jones, the racing manager for Valor Ladies, the all-female syndicate that owns Tuttipaesi, suggested the Santa Ana as a good spot for the mare, and after looking at the prospective competition, Mott agreed.

Mott said the trip to California may have been the biggest obstacle. Tuttipaesi had to fly Federal Express from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Newark, N.J., and then to California.

“It was not the easiest trip,” said Mott, who added that there is not an obvious next spot for Tuttipaesi.

Take the Stand had a pretty easy trip, taking the Mervin Muniz Memorial in front-running fashion. Mott said the quarantine – precipitated by a horse in another barn showing signs of the equine herpesvirus – probably didn’t affect Take the Stand as much as others in his stable. He was able to run Feb. 13, finishing second at 61-1 behind Reload in the Tampa Bay Stakes.

“He was coming off a good race in Tampa, and he ran back to that race,” Mott said.

Take the Stand is nominated to the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 7, Kentucky Derby Day.

Mott said the Sanibel Island might have been a tougher race for Harmonize than the one he had picked out for her at Tampa. Going into the first turn, Harmonize hit the rail but recovered, saved ground, raced between horses, then kicked home in the stretch when maneuvered into the clear.

“She shied away from another horse as much as anything,” Mott said, referring to the early trouble. “She did that to herself.”

Mott said the $150,000 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 6 could be next for Harmonize.

Meanwhile, Mott will have several runners for this Saturday’s turf stakes at Gulfstream. Long On Value, second to Heart to Heart in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf, will run in the Grade 3, $200,000 Appleton Stakes. Lady Lara will seek a repeat in the Grade 2, $300,000 Honey Fox, a race in which Mott also will run Celestine. Lady Lara is coming off a second-place finish behind the champion Tepin in the Endeavour Stakes at Tampa. Also, Mott plans to run Songoficeandfire and the European import Suffused in the Grade 3, $200,000 Orchid.

Tom Franklin is a senior contributor at US Racing.
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