By Dick Downey
Bill Mott always appears to be a laid-back person, and on the backside at Churchill Downs this morning, he was the personification of a relaxed trainer.
Since arriving here 3 1/2 weeks ago to prepare for Breeders' Cup, Mott has seen little, if anything go wrong for his Breeders' Cup contingent, saying "everything has gone like clockwork so far."
This morning, two of his contenders, Royal Delta (Ladies Classic) and To Honor and Serve (Classic) breezed at the track, and Mott said he was pleased with both moves.
Royal Delta, a 3-year-old filly, went four furlongs in :47.80 (5/58) with splits of :12.80, :25.00 and :36.20. She galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.40 and six in 1:14.80.
"I felt pretty good about it," Mott said. "If you don't like that, you don't like training horses. Everything went right."
Royal Delta's first stakes appearance resulted in a win when she took the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan the day before the Preakness. Mott said he chose that venue, as opposed to the Kentucky Oaks, knowing that Royal Delta had limited experience and that the field size would be smaller.
"She has advanced quite a bit (in maturity) since she won the Black-Eyed Susan," Mott said. "That's one of the reasons we skipped the Oaks."
While Mott believes Royal Delta can win the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, he acknowledged that there are several in the field plenty capable of beating him.
To Honor and Serve was sent off as one of the favorites in the Florida Derby only to flatten out in the stretch. He was taken off the Derby Trail and comes into the Breeders' Cup Classic a fresh horse.
And while Mott says that's an advantage, he also said To Honor and Serve has room for improvement. "He's going to be a much better horse next year," the trainer said today.
That comment followed a breeze by To Honor and Serve that Mott deemed by Mott to be a "better work than last week." To Honor and Serve ran five furlongs in 1:00.40 (4/33) without the extended blinker cup he's been sporting during gallops.
Fractions were :12.80, :24.60, :36.80 and :48.40. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.80 and seven in 1:29.20.
Mott said the extended cup is there to prevent To Honor and Serve from "trying to beat the hold" while being galloped, as he's become a little more aggressive since winning his most recent two races. The cup helps prevent him from cocking his head and thus keeps him straighter during gallops.
Mott also trains Drosselmeyer (Classic) and Courageous Cat (Mile). Drosselmeyer, the 2010 Belmont Stakes winner, completed his serious work yesterday with a five-furlong move in 1:01.00 (8/49), breezing. Courageous Cat is expected to breeze tomorrow.