'We're Going to Give Him This One Shot'
Hidden Scroll's 14-length romp in his debut at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26 is one of the most talked-about races of the still-young year. The fact that he is trained by Bill Mott added intrigue to the lopsided result.
Mott's reputation with handicappers is not to dazzle with first-time starters, and, consistent with that view, Hidden Scroll was sent off at 8-1 odds. The result was a head-turner.
Mott, a member of the Hall of Fame, is sufficiently impressed by the Juddmonte Farms homebred that the Grade II Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth Stakes is next. Running a colt in a graded stake in only his second career start isn’t something the consummate horseman would do on a whim.
“You have to have one win like he did the first time and come out of it in good order. He’s got an awfully good mind. Usually, after a first race, horses will get a little hyped up and you have to wait for them to come back down. He eats well and has been good in his training. His works have been good,” Mott said. “This isn’t a normal situation for us to jump right into a graded stake, but it’s that time of year, and he’s doing well enough that we’re going to give him this one shot and see where it takes us.”
Going a mile on a sloppy track in that maiden special weight race, Hidden Scroll broke on top and was never threatened while skipping through the one-turn distance in 1:34.82 under a hand ride from Joel Rosario.
“We know he likes the slop. If a track comes up like that again, we’ll feel comfortable the he will get over it again. His works have been good over a dry, fast track and a regular type racetrack. We feel pretty good about that as well,” the three-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer said. “His time would lend itself to being a pretty good race.”
Last year, Mott was so impressed by Hofburg’s maiden victory at Gulfstream Park in his second lifetime start that he entered the Juddmonte homebred in Xpressbet.com Florida Derby. The son of Tapit closed late to finish second behind Audible to earn a berth in the Kentucky Derby.
“This horse has a lot more natural speed than Hofburg had," Mott said. "They’re both nice horses. This horse has early speed. Hofburg could run and was a nice colt. He finished up well and ran very well in the Florida Derby. It was a very good race, and he actually ran well in the Kentucky Derby. He had traffic trouble and came running. He ran well over a very wet track. This horse has a very different running style. He can put himself up into the race early in the race if you want him there. Tactically, I think he has a little advantage.”
Mott's first starter entered the starting gate in 1973. Since then, he has saddled the winners of more than 4,900 races, including a vast number of graded stakes. A Kentucky Derby win isn’t on Mott’s resume yet, but he's only saddled eight horses in the Run for the Roses.
“We’ve had Derby horses before. As time has gone on, I’ve said, ‘This year we have our best chance. This year we have our best chance.’ It actually does seem that we’ve made improvement as the years go by,” said Mott. “We have a couple exciting horses this year.”
The other horse he mentioned is Tacitus, pointing to the Tampa Bay Derby. But first, Mott will see how Hidden Scroll performs on Saturday in the Fountain of Youth, where he will face 10 horses more seasoned than he saw in that maiden win.
By Dick Downey with content from a release
Photo by Adam Mooshian