ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) – Bill Mott is in position to duplicate the ultimate daily double. The Hall of Fame trainer swept the $2 million Ladies’ Classic and $5 million Classic at last year’s Breeders’ Cup. He could do it again this weekend, with Royal Delta defending her Ladies’ title and three of his horses running in the big race.
The Breeders’ Cup has been dominated by females in recent years, led by Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra and Havre de Grace, whose body of work garnered Horse of the Year honors for each of them.
It could happen again starting Friday, when Royal Delta heads one of the deepest fields ever in the Ladies’ Classic at Santa Anita. She’s the 9-5 favorite for the 1 1/8-mile race. She could help Mott make history, too, as the first trainer to win the race three straight years and fifth time overall.
But two undefeated fillies are in her way.
Awesome Feather is 10-0, while My Miss Aurelia is 6-0. Both won the BC Juvenile Fillies as 2-year-olds.
Mott comes back strong on Saturday with Flat Out, Ron the Greek and To Honor and Serve in the Classic. The 9-5 early favorite for the 1 1/4-mile race is Game On Dude, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and co-owned by Joe Torre, former manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.
“It’s pretty unusual to have three horses of that quality in that type of race,” Mott said. “If you really asked me who I would pick, one over the other, I couldn’t do it. That’s how well they’re doing.”
Game On Dude led most of the way in last year’s Classic at Churchill Downs before Drosselmeyer overhauled him in the closing strides to win for Mott, who could become the second trainer since Jay Robbins in 2000-2001 to repeat in North America’s richest race.
John Shirreffs completed the BC double in 2009 with Life is Sweet in the Ladies’ Classic and Zenyatta in the Classic.
“I’m not trying to do it just because we did it last year,” Mott said about his attempted double. “I feel no pressure to do that. I just want to do it because we’re in there. I’ve got three good horses in the Classic and I think any one of them could win the race on their big day.”
Mott had bid Royal Delta farewell a week after her victory at Churchill Downs last November. Her breeder-owner Prince Saud bin Khaled had died earlier in the year and his racing stable was sold to settle his estate. Royal Delta was sold to Benjiman Leon for $8.5 million.
“I had no expectations of getting her back,” Mott said. “It was a sad day when I had to walk her out of my barn down to that van and send her to Keeneland. It was a little bit like I was walking to my best friend’s funeral.”
Mott attended the Keeneland sale and congratulated Leon after his purchase. The new owner told Mott to call him in a week or two, and that’s when he found Royal Delta was coming back to his barn.
“It was great,” the trainer said.
Of Mott’s three Classic horses, both Flat Out and Ron the Greek came to him from other stables, while To Honor and Serve has been with him from the start.
Flat Out finished fifth, beaten three lengths, in last year’s Classic for trainer Scooter Dickey. His owner wanted the horse in New York, where Mott is based, and he got him. Flat Out has tender feet, making him a challenge to train.
“He’s been a willing student and done everything we’ve asked of him,” Mott said, noting the horse won the Jockey Club Gold Cup the last two years.
Ron the Greek was transferred to Mott in mid-2011 and has blossomed into a four-time stakes winner. To Honor and Serve has eight wins in 16 career starts.
Horse Racing Recap: Trainer Mott aiming take at Breeders’ Cup sweep
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) – It has been a chaotic week for Shanghai Bobby.
His flight from New York to the Breeders’ Cup was delayed by Hurricane Sandy. His ownership changed with the renowned Coolmore Stud spending an undisclosed sum to buy a 50 percent stake in the 2-year-old colt with the 4-for-4 record.
He gets the opportunity Saturday to nail down the division championship in the $2 million Juvenile, a race that stamps the winner as a leading contender for next season’s Triple Crown.
And he’ll have to do it without Lasix. The Breeders’ Cup has banned the diuretic commonly used to treat respiratory bleeding from all 2-year-old races. Shanghai Bobby ran on Lasix in all four starts.
“I don’t think that’s going to be a problem,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “It’s uncharted waters, but he’s never shown any sign of bleeding.”
It’s a lot to pile on a youngster. So far, Shanghai Bobby has taken everything in stride.
“He seems to be handling everything we throw at him, steps up in class, steps up in distance” Pletcher said. “So we’ll try one more time.”
The 2-1 favorite had his first gallop around Santa Anita on Thursday morning. Pletcher had booked a flight on Tuesday but the superstorm postponed the departure by a day.
Afterward, Pletcher reflected on the development of a colt who showed promise even before he ran. Pletcher sent Shanghai Bobby to his father, Jake, for early schooling in Ocala, Fla.
The reports all came back positive.
“He told me early on that he liked the colt, that he liked the way he was training,” Pletcher said. “We’ve found that’s a pretty good sign. When they handle their initial training well, are intelligent and sound and catch on to everything are often the best ones.”
Shanghai Bobby got an early start, winning his debut at Aqueduct in April. He hasn’t skipped a beat since, winning the Hopeful and Champagne Stakes in his last two races.
The only setback was a minor illness that knocked him out of the Saratoga Special in August.
“The morning of that race he got a temperature,” Pletcher said. “It cost us a couple of days, but now looking back on it, it was a blessing.”
Shanghai Bobby’s biggest asset is his willingness to listen to jockey Rosie Napravnik. Many talented babies are headstrong and insist on galloping along full tilt. Shanghai Bobby will sit behind horses and wait for Napravnik’s cue.
“He’s done it all while continuing to physically mature,” Pletcher said.
Pletcher is looking for his second Juvenile win. He won in 2010 with Uncle Mo, who was 3 for 3 after his Breeders’ Cup victory.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, a two-time Juvenile winner, sends out two runners in an effort to derail Shanghai Bobby. It could be an inside-outside double team.
While Shanghai Bobby breaks from post No. 4, Baffert has Title Contender, 6-1 on the rail and Power Broker, the 5-2 second choice from the outside stall, post No. 9.
Baffert said Title Contender will force the issue.
“He’s a high cruiser,” Baffert said. “He’s got that natural speed. We’re down in the 1-hole with him, so we’ve all but got to go.”
Power Broker was a dominant 6 1/2-length winner from a similar outside post in his latest start, Santa Anita’s Front Runner Stakes.
NOTES: The Breeders’ Cup kicks off Friday with six stakes: the $500,000 Juvenile Sprint, the $500,000 Marathon, the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf, the $2 million Juvenile Fillies, the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf and the $2 million Ladies’ Classic. The first BC race goes at 4:06 EDT.