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Mott Undecided on Belmont After Batten Down Breezes

Mott trainees Casa Creed, Resilience also breeze May 27 at Saratoga Race Course.

Batten Down earns his maiden victory at Churchill Downs

Batten Down earns his maiden victory at Churchill Downs

Coady Media

Juddmonte's Kentucky homebred Batten Down worked May 27 on Saratoga Race Course's Oklahoma dirt training track in company with older two-time winner Arthur's Ride for Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott, who is considering a start in the Belmont Stakes (G1) for the full brother to 2019 Belmont runner-up Tacitus .

Under cloudy skies and the looming threat of rain, Batten Down and Arthur's Ride stepped onto the backstretch of the track shortly after the 7 a.m. maintenance break concluded and stretched their legs with almost a full counterclockwise lap around the oval before commencing a five-furlong effort.

Batten Down, with jockey Junior Alvarado up, went on the outside of Arthur's Ride as New York Racing Association clockers caught them through splits of :12.54, :24.80, :36.99 and through five-eighths in 1:01.99 before galloping out in 1:14.19 and 1:28.94. The pair stayed on even terms throughout with Arthur's Ride a long head in front at the wire. Both horses wore blinkers for the work.

Mott said he was pleased with the effort but is not ready to confirm Batten Down for the June 8 $2 million Belmont Stakes at the Spa.

"I don't know if I'm running in the Belmont—he had a nice work," said Mott. "It couldn't have gone better. He went with an older horse and they breezed nicely together. Junior was pleased with him, so (now) we decide where we go.

"Maybe we skip the Belmont and go to Ohio possibly," Mott added, regarding the $500,000 Ohio Derby (G3) at Thistledown June 22. "We've got to figure it out."

Alvarado has been aboard for Batten Down's past two outings. The veteran rider expressed his satisfaction with the way the colt worked.

"I love him. He's a very nice horse to be around and he's a very kind horse," Alvarado said. "He's a little different in the afternoon and gets very aggressive and wants to go, go, go. But he lets you do whatever you want in the morning. Arthur is a good work horse and it was a very good pairing—beautiful and enjoying their work together."

Batten Down ran with his head tilted slightly as he ran alongside Arthur's Ride in the stretch, but Alvarado said it is not something that concerns him.

"He does that. When he gets a little in front or he's about to pass a horse, he always likes to lean in and play around," said Alvarado. "He's always been that kind of horse, but we know that when it's race time, he gets serious. He's a totally different animal in the afternoon."

Batten Down posted his second work since his romping graduation against elders in a 1 1/4-mile tilt April 30 at Churchill Downs. With Alvarado in the irons, Batten Down went wire-to-wire and extended his advantage at each point of call, cruising home an 8 3/4-length winner in a final time of 2:02.49.

"I was very pleased with the way he won last time," said Alvarado. "He got out of there and was moving pretty quick the first part—23 and change, and then he kept going to 47 and change. When I'm hitting the five-eighths pole, I'm thinking, 'He's going to stop completely.' But he surprised me when he switched leads to the right—he found another gear and took off. Passing the wire, he was so full of energy. I think this race (the Belmont) would suit him perfectly. He knows how to cover that ground and go fast and the same pace the whole way around. He's got the talent, he's just got to put it all together."

Mott Works Casa Creed, Resilience

Shortly after the track reopened again at 9:30 a.m., multiple grade 1-winner Casa Creed worked in company to the inside of maiden Timeout. NYRA clockers caught them through splits of :12.87, :24.64 and through a half-mile in :48.02 before galloping out in 1:01.25.

"He was very, very, very good," Mott said of the 8-year-old Casa Creed.

Owned by LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable, Casa Creed has ran in the Jaipur (G1) for three consecutive years when contested at six furlongs at Belmont Park—winning both the 2021 and 2022 editions—but will not target that event this year with the race being run at 5 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga. He will instead look to the $350,000 Poker (G3) going one mile on the June 8 Belmont Stakes Card.

Also on the tab Monday for Mott was Wood Memorial (G2) winner Resilience, who posted his first work since finishing sixth in the May 4 Kentucky Derby (G1). The son of Into Mischief  worked solo through splits of :13.32, :26.29 and a half-mile in :50.45 before galloping out in 1:04.20.

"I'm trying to figure out what's next," said Mott.

Owned by Emily Bushnell and Ric Waldman, Resilience pounced from 5 1/4 lengths off the pace in the Derby to be a half-length off the lead at the three-quarters call, but faded in the stretch and was defeated 7 3/4 lengths. He was bred in Kentucky by Pam Wygod and the late Marty Wygod.

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.