Mott gives 'em what-4 with wins in stakes Trainer racks up victories in Distaff, Dixie, Schaefer, Breeders'

123rd Preakness

May 17, 1998|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Trainer Bill Mott was a real winner on Preakness Day.

He touched all the bases in the companion stakes races, sweeping the Maryland Breeders' Cup, the Pimlico Distaff, the William Donald Schaefer Handicap and the 97th running of the Dixie Stakes.

In the Grade II, $200,000 Dixie on the turf, favored Yagli fought off a determined challenge from long shot Sky Colony and notched his second straight graded victory.

"He's had his problems and lost a lot of time," Mott said of the winner. "He broke his cannon bone a year and a half ago, and he's running with screws in it now.

"The kind of day we've had, I sure wish we had a horse in the Preakness."

Defending champion Ops Smile, trained by J. William Boniface, rallied for fourth after clearing some horses on the turn.

"He just didn't get room soon enough," said jockey Edgar Prado.

Acceptable nipped Little- bitlively in a photo in the $125,000 Schaefer Handicap for another Mott victory.

Ajina steps up

Eclipse Award winner Ajina showed her true ability with a three-length score in the Grade III, $200,000 Pimlico Distaff.

"The real Ajina showed up today," said Mott. "She didn't wait until June or July like she did last year. She's a nice filly."

With a bankroll of more than $1.3 million, Allen Paulson's filly is now 7-for-15 lifetime and back on track after being fractious and running eighth in the Bayakoa Stakes at Oaklawn Park in her only start this year.

"I always like putting on these red, white and blue silks," said jockey Jerry Bailey. "She ran just like Cigar did here in the Special. Every time she switched leads, she ran faster."

Richter Scale roars back

Mott's first victory on the card came in the Grade III, $200,000 Maryland Breeders' Cup, when Richter Scale returned from a six-month layoff to win by a half-length over Trafalger.

Richter Scale had not raced since finishing a disappointing 13th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"It's good to get the monkey off our back with the first one," said Mott. "He has a history of quarter-crack problems and he ran patched today, but it appears to be OK."

A slight favorite over Cat Be Nimble, Richter Scale turned six furlongs in 1 minute, 09 2/5 seconds.

Cat Be Nimble, the winner of this race in 1997, tried to keep up with a rapid pace and faltered to fifth.

Original Gray rallied for third, and trainer John Tammaro was pleased.

"We plan to follow the MATCH [Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships] series line with him. If everything works out, that is a very good program, and we are going to try to support it," said Tammaro. "Actually, we're going to try and win it."

Thomas Jo takes Barton

Federico Tesio Stakes winner Thomas Jo stalked the lead, then came surging up the rail under Steve Hamilton to capture the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes, another MATCH race.

It was the fourth straight triumph and sixth in seven starts for the red-hot Thomas Jo, who needed it all to overcome a game Silver Launch.

Thomas Jo, owned by Team Valor, is likely to run next in the Belmont Stakes, according to co-owner Barry Irwin.

"I couldn't even see the race from where I was sitting," said trainer Jim Jerkens. "I went inside and the TV sets went on the fritz, but then I heard the fractions and I was a little concerned because I thought he might be too far back."

At the next call, Jerkens was less worried because the horse seemed in good shape. "He looks like he's in good form, and we're going to strongly consider the Belmont," he said.

Hamilton said he was sitting in a pocket waiting to make his move. It came big on the rail.

"The winner got inside, and that's how he won," said Prado, who rode fourth-place Medford, the runner-up in the Tesio.

Pub Date: 5/17/98

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