Features

The one you have been waiting for, the one we have been waiting for, the Bill Mott Stable Tour. In an annual tradition, Sean Clancy walked with the Hall of Famer, opening up screens, leaning over runners to meet Mott’s 30 horses stabled on the Oklahoma training track Friday morning. (Originally published in Aug. 31 digital issue of The Saratoga Special)

The tour started with the same three words as last year, “This is Round.”

Round: The lead pony scoured the corner of his outside stall for the leaves of his alfalfa hay. The 8-year-old son of Arch and the Seeking The Gold mare Enth won once in nine starts for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider. Now Mott rides him every day. “Hey, come here. You’ve got to ride him, if you get on him early in the morning, he knows you’re going to ride him all day. If you wait until 9:30, he knows he’s got limited time to screw up.”

Lucky Dime: Daughter of Creative Cause is a half-sister to Forego winner Mitole is on the also-eligible list for Sunday’s eighth race. “Hey, girl. She had a race, she was third. She’s improved, she’s been working good. She might have to go to Belmont now to run. I can’t believe she drew the also-eligible. She’s pretty nice.”

Sprawl: Owned and bred by Claiborne and Dilschneider, the 2-year-old colt finished third in his debut here. “This is Sprawl, he finished third in his only start, came running. He’s a City Zip. He’ll either go to Belmont to run a mile or Churchill. No gate speed, you’d think being a City Zip he would have some gate speed. He showed promise.”

Blamed: Owned by Cleber Massey, the daughter of Blame has won two stakes since joining Mott from Sunland Park. She hasn’t run since winning the Royal Delta Stakes in February. “She was off a good 90 days, she’s back galloping. She won’t run until fall. Her shoulders were bruised up which is kind of unusual. We gave her 60 days out and 30 days of Aquatred and turnout. She’s back, moving better than ever. We did a bone scan, usually you see the bone bruising in their ankles and she had some in her ankles but she had more in her shoulders, the bottom of the humerus. We were icing her, but you’re not going to change much if it’s in up in her shoulders. Fortunately, with the new technology, you can say, ‘Boy, that’s unusual.’ ”

Mitchell Road: Half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner Country House won four in a row before finishing fifth in the Diana here. The 4-year-old filly startles as Mott walks to her stall. “You’re still excited from your work. She just worked at 10. Half to a Derby winner, she’s a Grade 3 winner, she’s helped her value. Not real big, but boy she likes to run. She’s got speed, doesn’t rate real well. She’ll go to Kentucky Downs. I don’t know about her running style up and down those hills, she pulls.”

Tactical Move: Godolphin homebred daughter of First Defense and Game Face worked twice from the gate during the meet. “She hasn’t run, I was breezing her, I had to stop, I had to paint her shins, she’s back going. I thought I might be running her at the end of this meet but we had a little bit of a hiccup.”

Frank’s Rockette: The daughter of Into Mischief is flaked out with her head resting in a pile of thick straw near the front of the stall. She runs in the Spinaway Sunday. “This is Frank. You better get ready, girl, you better get ready. She’s got a nice pillow. She’s a winner at Churchill, second here in the (Adirondack), she had a rough trip, she got slammed, (Luis Saez) got seven days, I guess that proves something happened.”

Elate: Mott unsnaps the screen, swings it open and stares silently. The big mare stares back. “Don’t need to say much here. Looking at all the options, Beldame, Jockey Club, Spinster: Right now, I’m thinking Spinster, possibly. Initially, I wasn’t thinking that way, but it’s a Grade 1, 500 (thousand-dollar purse). I don’t think we’re really ducking anybody, but I want to save enough horse for the Breeders’ Cup. Hopefully we can make the Breeders’ Cup this year. If she does well, I think we’re inclined to go to the Classic. I don’t necessarily want her next race to be a war.”

Golden Award: Winner of the Shuvee here, she was eased in the Personal Ensign. Mott clucks to the bay filly and she walks straight to him like it had been rehearsed. “For some reason she didn’t finish the Personal Ensign. She’s back on the track training and seems to be fine. She’s galloped four days, we don’t see anything. I don’t know. It’s really hard to tell. I don’t know. It doesn’t appear to be any soundness issue that I can pick up on, she seems to be moving as good or better than ever. We had scoped her immediately when she came back from the race, she seemed to be fine. I don’t know.”

Krampus: William Schettine’s homebred son of Shakespeare owns five wins from 16 starts. “An overachiever. Broke his maiden for numbers, won a starter and kind of went up the ladder, he’s a Grade 3 winner, he continues to be an overachiever. It’s not that easy to find the right conditions. He ran in a Grade 1 last time, those ones just seem to be a little better than him. Probably didn’t like the firm turf, his feet were stinging him after the race. He’s OK now.”

Red Knight: Another veteran, the New York-bred was second in the off-the-turf John’s Call. “Grouchy old man. You’d probably like to ride him over the jumps. Probably a Grade 3 type, runs very good in those types of races. The water might be a little deep in the Grade 1s, that being said, he’s a very nice horse. He’s a lot of fun to have.”

2017 Will Take Charge-Easy Limit filly: Owned and bred by Mrs. J. V. Shields Jr., the unraced 2-year-old arrived this week. “She’s only been in Saratoga for two days. She’s an attractive horse and goes good on the track. She was at Belmont for a week or two and we just brought her up here.”

Lake Avenue: Godolphin hombred is by Tapit out of Seventh Street. “Come on, come on, don’t be antisocial. She acts like she’s OK. She was close to being ready to run and got sick, I had a bunch of babies get sick. Actually, it was kind of scary, leading up to the Travers, the Personal Ensign, the Sword Dancer, I’ve got horses in those races and I’ve got horses surrounding those horses who are sick. The older horses’ immune systems are better than a babies’.”

2017 Empire Maker-Revealed filly: Gainesway’s unraced 2-year-old stands rock still as she gets her teeth floated. “She reminds me of Royal Delta.”

Valletta: Unraced Juddmonte homebred daughter of Into Mischief looks across the barn apron like she’s waiting for the opening act. “She sees something new every day. She was sick, just coming back.”

Tiesto: The Tiznow colt, a half to Grade 1 stakes winner Promises Fulfilled, graduated from the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall mixed sale in 2017. “He’s a different type, he’s a big, leggy type, a little narrow behind, has worked well, goes very well on the turf.”

Tacitus: Travers runner-up beckons for another meal. Mott scratches his left ear with his right hand. “He’ll let you touch him with one hand, not two. If I put my second hand up there, he’ll try to take my arm off. They were kind of playing cat and mouse (in the Travers) the first part of it, I can’t make any big excuses. He broke really well, everybody said the rail was deep that day, but he was actually out in the 2 or 3 path all the way down the backside, he was not right on the rail. It may have appeared that he was on the rail, but if you watch the head-on, he was not right on the rail. It’s better to be committed either way, I think Jose (Ortiz) broke and was going to give the other horse an opportunity to go on and clear him but he stayed out. It might have been better for both of us if he cleared him. I was glad to see that he was able to be up in the race. Races don’t always develop the way they look on paper. He gets extra feed, he eats five times a day, most eat three or four, just depending on how they’re eating. I started doing it in Florida because he looked a little lean, we’ll give him a quart or two more when he finishes his 11 o’clock feed. We don’t usually feed them as much as they’ll eat. I worked for a guy named Bob Irwin, he was an ex-Van Berg guy. I was galloping horses for him and I had one of my own, he came by and saw my feed tub, I had it filled up to here. He shook his head and said, ‘Son, a horse is a little bit like a pig, if you keep them just a little bit hungry, they’ll do a lot better for you.’ Don’t give them more than what they want, if you can give them an amount they’ll eat but keep them wanting just a little bit more, then they’ll eat better. If you put too much in front of them, they’ll just lose interest. I guess it’s a matter of teasing them into it. If you don’t get him out early, he’ll get pissed off. He gets a little anxious, he’s great around the stall, but he doesn’t want to wait to be last. I think we’ll go to the Jockey Club Gold Cup.”

Empress Amelia: Bred by Alexander-Groves Thoroughbreds, the 2-year-old filly is by Empire Maker out of stakes winner Amelia. “She was a pretty big project at the starting gate. I’ve been at the gate every time she’s gone over there and we got her through it. She had an incident the second time we had her over there, I think we have her figured out. She’s broken from the gate now.”

Channel Maker: Ontario-bred 5-year-old has earned more than $2 million, winning five stakes, including the Grade 1 Man o’ War and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. “Overachiever. You just can’t overachieve every time.”

Mr Jaggers: Owned and bred by Pam and Martin Wygod, the son of Twirling Candy finished third in his debut here. “He’s in Saturday. Nice colt. He showed quite a bit from the very beginning, could be pretty nice.”

Breithorn: Juddmonte homebred was entered for Saturday but will be scratched after getting sick. “As soon as the overnight came out, he had a fever of 102. He’s pretty nice, we like him. I’m not sure he was ready to win first out, I thought he could hit the board. I like to go ahead and get that race into him. We’ll have to wait. He’s on antibiotics.”

Yoshida: The favorite in today’s Woodward. “Good timing, training good, he ran good last year at this time, in the same race over the same racetrack.”

Tide Of The Sea: A big stamp of a horse, the Juddmonte homebred finished third as the favorite in a three-turn turf race here. “Here’s another one for you. He’s not the typical English Channel. Look at him. He’s a big, angular horse, he’s that type of horse. He’s not meant to do too much this year, he probably lacks a little speed to be a brilliant horse but over time he’s going to get better, he’ll develop. He’ll run through his conditions in some of those marathons. He’s only had four races, he’s had a win and two thirds, he’s in the game.”

Durkin’s Call: Purchased from Mike Trombetta, the New York-bred won the Gander Stakes in his debut for Mott and hasn’t hit the board in his next four starts. “Won a small New York-bred stake for us and hasn’t run good since. I don’t know what’s wrong with him, he trains as good as he can train. We bought him, he won by 7 or 8 and that’s it. I don’t understand it. We even tried the grass the other day.”

Scottish Jig: A winner of three races in England before joining Mott, Juddmonte runner won her American debut, finished third in the River Memories and seventh in the Ballston Spa. “I ran her in the Ballston Spa, hmmm, it could have been a little over her head. She won going a mile-and-a-quarter at Belmont, she doesn’t want to go further than that, but probably needs every bit of a mile-and-a-sixteenth. She’s a full-sister to (Grade 1 winner) Seek Again. It’s amazing, three weeks ago, her hair was terrible and she blossomed. We ran her, she was doing good, she was laying second, we don’t have a good excuse.”

Mucho: Son of Blame hasn’t finished worse than fourth in seven starts, including a second in last year’s Hopeful. “Mucho. Mucho. This was last year’s hopeful for the Hopeful. He was third here the other day. He had a quarter crack, we missed time for that and then he was sick so he missed more time. He could have been a little short, he had a couple of works in him, I just said, ‘I need to get started.’ He ran good. He’s scheduled to run on the 8th of September in a 3-year-old turf race down at Belmont. It seems like 6 furlongs is it, we’ve tried to stretch him out.”

Seismic Wave: Juddmonte homebred is the 5-2 second choice in today’s Saranac. “Hey, papa. He’s in Saturday. We tried him in the longer races, we’re thinking that maybe it was a distance thing, maybe he needs to be shortened back up. He’s out of a mare by Anabaa who was champion sprinter.”

Mott checked a horse being shod on the wash rack and walked back to his office, then thought about the rest of his Saratoga string on the other side of town at the harness rack with his assistant/son Riley.

“Of course Riley has got a bunch of babies over there. He’s got Acre. Height, he’s in Saturday, I thought his debut was OK, he looks physically like he’s matured since then, he doesn’t look as babyish. He’s got Sul Moon over there, he and Mr Jaggers had good debuts, they’re in Saturday. We’ve had several 2-year-olds have good debuts, some of them didn’t win but they ran good.”