Mott runners prep for upcoming stakes
While anticipation for the June 9 Belmont Stakes has already started to build, the Memorial Day weekend races at Belmont Park are not to be overlooked. Belmont will present seven stakes May 26-28, with the Grade 1, $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap serving on Memorial Day as the weekend’s climax.
To Honor and Serve, a leading contender for the Met Mile, completed major preparations for the race with a 1:00.03 five-furlong breeze over the Belmont training track on Sunday. The Live Oak plantation homebred has won four of his last five, including his two most recent starts, the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack in November and the Grade 3 Westchester over the Met Mile’s course and distance on April 28.
“He’s had two good works, and he seems to be looking good,” said To Honor and Serve’s trainer, Hall of Famer Bill Mott. “It looks like it’s a good race coming up. Nice horses here, without a doubt.”
On Saturday, Principal Role will carry the torch for the Mott barn in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay, a 1 3/8-mile turf event for fillies and mares. The Sheepshead Bay will be the second North American start for the Juddmonte Farms representative, who won four listed stakes in England and Ireland at 1 1/4 miles and who was third in the Grade 3 on May 5 at Belmont. She breezed five furlongs on turf in 1:00.40 on Sunday.
“The race she ran in the other day was a mile and sixteenth,” said Mott, in reference to the Beaugay. “She was closing at the end. I ran her in the Beaugay because I had no other place to run with more distance. She was ready at the end of April, and I couldn’t find a race, so I used the Beaugay to get started. She’s run quite a number of races at 10 furlongs, and she seemed to handle it OK. It could be the difference with her style.”
On Sunday, Besilu Stables’ Royal Delta turned in her third breeze following her ninth-place finish in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup in March, with NYRA clockers catching her covering four furlongs in a bullet 47.52 seconds.
“She could run a month,” noted Mott. “She’ll most likely go to the Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs [Grade 2, June 16], or she could go to the Vanity the same day at Hollywood Park [Grade 1]. She’s doing very well. She had a nice work this morning, she had a nice work last week, and it looks like she hasn’t lost much from the trip.”