On Sunday morning at his Saratoga barn adjacent to the Oklahoma training track, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott reflected on a tough Saturday at the races that saw Tacitus run second in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers and Elate complete the exacta in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti.
“We didn't win. I've been second in a lot of stakes – Whitney [with Yoshida], Jim Dandy [with Tacitus], Travers, Personal Ensign – and I think there's a couple more,” said Mott.
Mott said Tacitus, a Juddmonte Farms homebred, was in good order following his prominent second to Code of Honor.
“He came back good,” said Mott. “He's sound and jogging good.”
Tacitus captured a pair of Grade 2 events including the Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets ahead of a Triple Crown run that saw the Tapit grey elevated to third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and rallying for second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.
Following a stumbled start in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy presented by NYRA Bets, Tacitus rallied gamely to complete the exacta behind Tax.
Mott put blinkers on Tacitus for the first time in the Travers and the colt responded with a forwardly placed effort. The Hall of Fame conditioner said he will likely leave the blinkers on the regally bred colt.
“I liked what I saw with the blinkers,” said Mott. “It didn't get us outrun. It put us in the race. We were in a good spot. He broke well. I don't see any reason to change that.”
Mott said that Tacitus is likely to take on older company for the first time in his next start, with the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, a 10-furlong Breeders' Cup “Win and You're In” event slated for September 28 at Belmont Park.
“I would give that a lot of consideration,” said Mott. “With that being said, we have not discussed the next race for him yet, but that's my feeling.”
Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's Elate, a 5-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, has won 7 of 17 starts with more than $2.25 million in purse earnings. The multiple Grade 1 winner raced close to the pace in the nine-furlong Personal Ensign, enjoying a head advantage at the top of the lane before battling gamely to the wire where she was nosed by familiar foe Midnight Bisou.
Mott said he is not certain if the Grade 2, $300,000 Beldame, a one-turn nine-furlong trip set for September 28 at Belmont is next on the radar for Elate, but did offer serious consideration for the 10-furlong Breeders' Cup Classic against the boys. Elate is undefeated in three starts at 1 1/4-miles.
“She's good. We'll have to decide if we go back to the Beldame or if we wait for the Breeders' Cup,” said Mott. “If we wait for the Breeders' Cup, we're going to give strong consideration to the Classic. It seems like [the further the better]. It brought her and Midnight Bisou closer together yesterday…real close together.”
Summer Wind Equine's Golden Award was pulled up in the Personal Ensign and Mott said the Grade 3 Shuvee winner seemed no worse for wear this morning.
“It was a bit of a headscratcher. We don't see enough to see any reason for what happened,” said Mott.
Mott said Aymara, a 3-year-old maiden pulled up in Saturday's finale, also seemed in good order.
“She is. We discovered something with her, but she's okay,” said Mott.
China Horse Club International, WinStar Farm, Head of Plains Partners' Yoshida, a Grade 1 winner on dirt and turf, breezed four furlongs in 49.70 on the Oklahoma training track on Sunday morning. Mott said the versatile 5-year-old Heart's Cry horse will point towards the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward set for nine furlongs on the Saratoga main on August 31.
“He seems to be feeling really good,” said Mott. “He'll stay on the dirt this next time.”
Juddmonte Farms' homebred Seismic Wave breezed four furlongs on the turf training track in 49 flat on Sunday. Mott said the graded-stakes placed Tapit chestnut will target the Grade 3, $200,000 Saranac at 1 1/16-miles on the Mellon turf on August 31.
“He could run in this last stakes here at Saratoga – the Saranac,” said Mott.
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