Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott was trackside at Belmont Park early Saturday morning to oversee Juddmonte Farms homebred Tacitus making his first breeze back since a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Mott is pointing the impeccably bred son of Tapit and multiple Grade 1 winner Close Hatches towards the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, slated for Saturday, June 8.
Tacitus, who captured the Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets in April at the Big A, breezed over the main track just after 6:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, working in company with graded stakes winner Multiplier.
Tacitus settled a length back of Multiplier, the 2017 Grade 3 Illinois Derby winner, through a quarter-mile in 24.3 seconds and edged along outside Multiplier down the lane with both grays officially clocked in 48.57 for the half-mile drill. Tacitus galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.44 as he began to pull away from Multiplier.
“It all went smoothly. It was his first breeze back and exactly what we wanted,” said Mott. “It's what I expected. They look like a good team together.”
Tacitus, piloted by Jose Ortiz in the Kentucky Derby, rallied from 16th to finish fourth, defeated less than four lengths, over a sloppy Churchill main track. He was elevated to third when Maximum Security, who crossed the wire first, was disqualified for an infraction at the top of the stretch that saw the Mott-trained Country House declared the winner of the 145th Run for the Roses.
“We were very happy with Tacitus' effort in the Derby. We always suspected he'd do well at a mile and a quarter,” said Mott.
Country House, who provided Mott with his first Kentucky Derby winner, developed a cough after his historic win and was forced to skip the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Grade 1 Preakness, which goes to post at 6:48 p.m. this evening at Pimlico.
Country House was examined at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington and returned to Churchill Downs on Wednesday.
Mott said he will take his time with Country House before deciding on where the Derby winner will make his next start.
“Country House is back at the barn in Kentucky. He's just been walking under tack. I'll leave him there for a couple weeks. I want to make sure that he's healthy before we move him and make sure everything is good as it should be,” said Mott.
On Friday, Mott watched his dual Grade 1-winner Yoshida breeze four furlongs in 49.64 over the dirt training track at Saratoga.
Owned by China Horse Club International, WinStar Farm, and Head of Plains Partners, the multi-surface star Yoshida enjoyed a lucrative 2018 campaign taking the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs in May and the Grade 1 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets in September. Bred in Japan by Northern Farm, the Heart's Cry bay banked $1,040,670 in 2018.
Yoshida closed out 2018 with a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic and most recently finished sixth in the Grade 1 Dubai World Cup.
Mott said Yoshida is targeting the Grade 2, $600,000 Stephen Foster, a Breeders' Cup Win & You're In event, set for June 15 at Churchill Downs.
“Yoshida is doing well. That was his second breeze back. He'll probably train up to the Stephen Foster,” said Mott.
The 2019 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, set for June 6 – June 8, will include 18 stakes races over the three days including an unprecedented 8 Grade 1 races on Belmont Stakes Day, June 8. For more information and to buy tickets, visit http://www.belmontstakes.com.
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