Stable Tour Star

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A year ago, Bill Mott agreed to do a Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour for The Special. It was the day before the Travers Stakes, Mott juggled morning chores and five afternoon runners on arguably the second busiest day of the meet. Mott walked to each of his 30 stalls and talked about his horses – from Alabama winner Elate to Jim Dandy winner Good Samaritan, from future jumper Cite to lead pony Round. The 18th horse on the hour-long tour received a long stare from Mott. 

“This is a Tapit 2-year-old, he’s a half-brother to Emollient. He’s breezing well, he could run the last week of Saratoga. He’s got some talent,” Mott said. “She broke her maiden on the dirt, won on the synthetic and the turf, she was a Grade 1 winner on the synthetic and the turf. He’s not a real bulky horse but he seems to handle the dirt, he gets over the ground beautifully.”

Positive words for any trainer. For Mott? Ebullient.

“…he’s breezing well….he’s got some talent…gets over the ground beautifully.”

Hofburg made his career debut eight days later, breaking slowly before closing ground to finish a non-threatening fourth. It was a quintessential Mott debut: show a little, learn a lot, move forward, promise to be delivered later. The chestnut colt didn’t reappear until March when he broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park. After that, it was the deep end. Leaping from a maiden to a Grade 1, Hofburg made up 12 lengths to finish second to Audible in the Florida Derby. Still deeper, Hofburg made his fourth start in the Kentucky Derby, taking more bumps than peloton riders’ elbows in the Tour de France; he wound up seventh. Five weeks later, he chased Justify again but wound up third in the Belmont Stakes. 

For any trainer, but especially Mott, it looked like a risky, heady move to try two legs of the Triple Crown with a horse so lightly raced. Mott scoffed.

“No. No. He was mature well beyond his number of races,” Mott said. 

Hofburg kicks off the second half of his 3-year-old season in today’s Curlin.

To read the rest of the Curlin preview, download Friday’s digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by EasyFix Stable Solutions.