HOLLYWOOD PARK : Rich Could Get Richer if Mott Steals Weekend
What has been a productive and profitable year for trainer Bill Mott could get even better this weekend.
Second behind Wayne Lukas in the national money race, Mott will be going for big money in California, New York and Japan.
Successful with Cigar in the Hollywood Gold Cup and Bail Out Becky in the Del Mar Oaks in his last two ventures west, Mott will have five horses in Hollywood Park’s three-day Autumn Turf Festival, which begins Friday.
He will be in Japan to saddle Lassigny for the Japan Cup, and the barn will also be represented by Wekiva Springs in the NYRA Mile, which began the ascent of Cigar late last year, on Saturday at Aqueduct.
The first of Mott’s Hollywood Park invaders to run will be Platinum Blonde in the $200,000 Miesque Stakes for 2-year-old fillies Friday. Saturday, Blushing Richard will go in the $250,000 Generous Stakes, then on Sunday, Bail Out Becky and Duda will compete in the $700,000 Matriarch after Green Means Go runs in the $400,000 Hollywood Derby.
The trainer is no stranger to the Turf Festival, which consists of six turf stakes. He won the 1992 Hollywood Derby with Paradise Creek and the Miesque with Bail Out Becky last year. Paradise Creek was also second in the 1993 Citation.
“I like the timing [of the Turf Festival],” Mott said. “Generally, we still have horses that are ready to run at the end of the year and we still want to get another race into them. The timing is great for quality racing.
“Of course, we’ve got virtually no turf racing left in New York. The turf course is pretty much gone with all the weather that we’ve had here. They’ve got some very important races, Grade I’s, at Hollywood Park that anyone would want to run in no matter what time of year it is. But it is especially convenient for us in that there is nothing else [in New York].”
A daughter of the prolific turf sire Silver Hawk, Platinum Blonde drew Post 7 in a field of 10 in the Miesque, which goes as the sixth race on Friday’s card. Owned by Chris Grosso, Dr. Thomas Pray and Dr. Joan Taylor, Platinum Blonde has two firsts and a third in four starts, all on the grass.
“She won a Canadian Grade I [a division of the Natalma Stakes], but I wouldn’t consider her Grade I quality,” Mott said. “I do think she is graded stakes quality. She’s got to show me that she’s top class, capable of Grade I status. I think she’ll be competitive [Friday].”
Of course, when talking to Mott, the conversation is eventually going to turn to Cigar, who finished a remarkable year with a record-setting victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
A winner of 12 in a row, the Palace Music horse is in light training now and will probably make his 1996 debut in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Then, he probably will be here for the Santa Anita Handicap.
“Cigar’s doing very well,” Mott said. “We backed off on him a little bit. He’s being exercised every day and we’ll probably go to Payson Park [in Florida next week]. He’ll probably train there for 30 days, then go into Gulfstream.”
Pat Valenzuela, who hasn’t ridden for four months, is named on one horse today at Hollywood Park.
Valenzuela, suspended by Del Mar stewards for failing to fulfill riding engagements at the start of the meeting and missing a hearing with the stewards in late July, is scheduled to ride 20-1 shot Alaskan Revelation in the fifth race for trainer Darrell Vienna.
Score Quick, who is a neck away from owning a four-race winning streak, is the 9-5 favorite against five other 3-year-olds in today’s feature, the $100,000 Lazaro S. Barrera Handicap.
After winning the Foothill Stakes on opening day at Fairplex Park, Score Quick was beaten in a photo by Oncefortheroad, who is in the Barrera field, then returned to win the Hyannis Port and Morvich at Santa Anita during the recent Oak Tree meeting.
Stretching out to 1 1/16 miles today, the Northern Score colt, owned by Bill Thomas and trained by Mel Stute, will be doing so over a track he likes. He has three firsts and a second in four starts on the Hollywood Park dirt.
Oncefortheroad, the Pomona Derby winner, is the 5-2 second choice and the rest of the field includes Profit Margin, who will race with blinkers for the first time, Spingold, Farofino and Adams Trail.
Horse Racing Notes
Dirca, who won twice and was second twice in four starts in France, was an impressive winner in her American debut Wednesday. Owned by C.N. and Carol Ray’s Evergreen Farm and trained by Jenine Sahadi, the 3-year-old Thatching filly beat My Trim by 1 1/4 lengths under Gary Stevens in 1:34 1/5 for the mile on turf. . . . The Matriarch and the Hollywood Derby will be televised live by ESPN in an hour show between 3-4 p.m. on Sunday. . . . Corey Nakatani will leave for Tokyo today to ride Sandpit in Sunday’s Japan Cup, then will return to ride Wandesta in the Matriarch and Da Hoss in the Hollywood Derby the same day.