Belmont Top Three Aim For Travers
Belmont top three to aim for Travers
After celebrating his first Belmont S. (G1) win by having dinner with family and friends, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott was back at work at his Belmont Park barn early Sunday morning.
WinStar Farms' DROSSELMEYER (Distorted Humor), the gleaming copper-colored colt whose victory on Saturday marked the first in a Triple Crown race for the 57-year-old trainer, came out of his three-quarter length victory over FLY DOWN (Mineshaft) in good order, Mott reported.
"He's still shiny," Mott quipped.
With three different horses having each having won a leg of the Triple Crown -- WinStar's Super Saver (Maria's Mon) took the Kentucky Derby (G1) while juvenile champion Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike) won the Preakness S. (G1) -- leadership in the three-year-old division appears up for grabs.
"As Elliott (Walden, racing manager for WinStar Farm) said yesterday, the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont winner have to sort themselves out and see who's best by the end of the year," Mott said.
Toward that end, Mott said that the $1 million Travers S. (G1) at Saratoga on August 28 was a primary objective for Drosselmeyer.
"We'd like to think, come Saratoga time, at the end of the meet, they run the Travers, and that maybe he'd have an opportunity to run in there," Mott said. "That's what I'm hoping."
The Todd Pletcher-trained Super Saver, who has been freshened since his subpar eighth in the Preakness, eventually will make the trek to Saratoga as well. Pletcher said that he will be working with WinStar Farm on plans for the Kentucky Derby winner.
"I'm going to continue to discuss it with Elliott Walden and the WinStar team," Pletcher said. "Super Saver will come with me to Saratoga, but that is still a while away."
The 1 1/2-mile Belmont marked the first appearance in this year's Triple Crown series for Drosselmeyer, who was excluded from the Kentucky Derby for want of graded stakes earnings. His two victories prior to the Belmont comprised a maiden win at Churchill Downs and an allowance victory at Gulfstream Park; he subsequently was fourth in the Risen Star S. (G2) and third in the Louisiana Derby (G2).
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm very content having won the Belmont and not run in the Derby," Mott said, "because that's the way it worked out. He didn't earn his way into the Derby. And I believe things happen for a reason."
Drosselmeyer prepped for his Belmont victory in the Dwyer S. (G2) at Belmont Park on May 8, a race in which he finished second, beaten six lengths, as the 3-5 favorite. Following that race, the decision was made to replace Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux with another Hall of Famer, Mike Smith.
"I don't think Kent really did anything wrong on this horse," Mott said. "Some things were not developing or opening up the way we'd like them to, or he wanted it to, but it was through no fault of his."
In addition to the Belmont victory, which Mott said had yet to sink in, the trainer also teamed with Smith to win the Just a Game S. (G1) with Juddmonte Farms' Proviso (GB) (Dansili [GB]).
"She's great," Mott said. "By the time we got back with the Belmont horse, she had already eaten up and had her head over the screen, looking out."
To see video of winning trainer Bill Mott on Sunday morning discussing Drosselmeyer's victory, click here.
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito reflected on his unique 2010 Triple Crown experience the morning after the 142nd Belmont, in which he saddled late-running second-place finisher Fly Down and favored ICE BOX (Pulpit), who finished ninth but was later promoted to eighth.
Zito said he believed he was the first trainer to hit the board in all three Triple Crown races with three different horses -- Ice Box was second in the Kentucky Derby and Jackson Bend (Hear No Evil) finished third in the Preakness.
Both of Zito's Belmont starters came out of the race in good order.
"Ice Box, we scoped him after the race and he was clean. He had no blood, and no mucus," Zito said. "However, he did displace, he flipped his palette. He's an excitable horse -- he's a Pulpit, he's out of a Tabasco Cat mare. It was very, very hot down here -- we didn't catch a break that way. The last two days he was ready to explode, he was ready to do something, and he probably left his race somewhere else other than the track.
"Fly Down, he ran a great race. Obviously a lot of people give Mike Smith (riding Drosselmeyer) credit -- rightfully so -- because he kept him in. (Fly Down) couldn't get clear until the very end, and you saw what he did in the lane. It was remarkable how he got second. As soon as he got clear, he beat FIRST DUDE (Stephen Got Even), again. Terrific horse."
Zito has saddled 24 Belmont starters, winning the race twice: in 2004 with Birdstone and 2008 with Da' Tara, both Triple Crown upsets. Fly Down was Zito's seventh Belmont Stakes runner-up, and the trainer also owns two third-place finishes in the race.
Zito was looking ahead to Saratoga for Richard Pell's Fly Down, with an eye to the Travers, a race he said he would also consider for Jackson Bend. Robert LaPenta is the majority owner of Wood Memorial runner-up Jackson Bend, and also owns Ice Box.
"I'd like to go straight to the Haskell ([G1] at Monmouth on August 1) with Ice Box because if he gets any kind of pace, he's a much better horse. We'll see what Mr. LaPenta wants to do, but he's still one of the better three-year-olds around. He had a legitimate excuse yesterday. I think the ultimate goal is to probably get them all in the Breeders' Cup, then work our way backwards from there.
"You gotta be content, you gotta be thankful to have horses running in these races and we did. We had three different horses that ran unbelievable."
First Dude came out of his third-place effort in the Belmont in good order, trainer Dale Romans revealed.
"He's fine," Romans said. "It doesn't seem like the race took too much out of him, but we'll see when we get back (to Kentucky). I think he ran hard and tried the whole way."
The Travers at Saratoga is a target for First Dude, who is named for Todd Palin, the husband of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
With the Palins in attendance at the Belmont Saturday, Romans was able to meet the colt's namesake.
"I didn't know they were coming, so that was interesting," said Romans. "It was nice being able to meet them."
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said that he was "very happy" with how UPTOWNCHARLYBROWN (Limehouse) came out of the Belmont.
Uptowncharlybrown was fifth under the finish line in the Belmont but was later disqualified and placed last after it was discovered an eight-pound lead pad fell out of the saddle during the race. As a result, he failed to carry the 126-pound weight assignment over the 1 1/2-mile distance.
"It was a very strange situation," McLaughlin said. "I've never had that happen to me, but I'm sure it has happened before."
McLaughlin had a happier result earlier on Saturday, when his three-year-old TRAPPE SHOT (Tapit) captured a deep allowance carded as the 4TH race. Grade 1 races are now on the horizon for the colt.
Owned by Nicholas Brady's Mill House, Trappe Shot was geared down late as he defeated Tahitian Warrior (Maria's Mon) by four lengths and picked up his third consecutive victory. The chestnut colt covered seven furlongs in 1:22.18, 0.46 seconds faster than D' Funnybone's (D'wildcat) time when he won the Woody Stephens S. (G2) over the same distance later in the day.
"That was impressive," McLaughlin reflected Sunday morning.
"We're pointing to August 28 (at Saratoga), whether it's the King's Bishop ([G1] at seven furlongs) or Travers (at 1 1/4 miles). We could go to the Amsterdam ([G2] going 6 1/2 furlongs on August 2) or Jim Dandy ([G2] over 1 1/8 miles on July 31) first, depending on which way we're leaning."
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