SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Three years ago, trainer Bill Mott won the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes with the promising After Market. Four months later, owner Marty Wygod moved the horse to California and Mott was out of the picture.
Fast forward to Friday and Mott a 1998 Hall of Fame inductee wins the Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga with Courageous Cat, a full brother to After Market. This time, Mott will not let the horse out of his sight.
If Marty decides to move this one to California, now I got to go with him,'' Mott said. I let the other one go, I can't let him go.
Courageous Cat looked every bit as good as his brother did three years ago, powering to a 1 3/4-length victory over Sal the Barber in the $150,000 Hall of Fame Stakes.
It was a neck back to Al Khali, also trained by Mott. Courageous Cat's final time of 1:45.90 established a stakes record for 23 runnings of this race at the 1 1/8-mile distance. The race had been run twice at 1 1/16 miles.
It was the sixth time Mott has won this race. Paradise Creek, trained by Mott, held the previous stakes record for 1 1/8 miles at 1:46.65.
It was the third straight victory for Courageous Cat, who won a maiden race in June and the A Gift, a listed stakes, in July.
Under Kent Desormeaux a 2004 Hall of Fame inductee Courageous Cat stalked the pace-setting Straight Story, the 8-5 favorite, through six furlongs in 1:10.45 before taking control approaching the quarter pole. Courageous Cat kicked clear turning for home then held Sal the Barber at bay through the lane. Courageous Cat returned $9.10 as the second choice.
Two back was good, the last one was real good, and this one was very good,'' Mott said. Kent was very impressed. He said he was just rocking along, cruising very nicely, rating easily, and doing it the right way. He said he might be very special.''
The sky's the limit the way he carried me today,'' Desormeaux said. I just got so much confidence in him, he's a very, very nice horse. He'll win a Grade 1.''
He may get that chance in the Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park on Oct. 10.