Not only will Mott have Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) winner Unrivaled Belle back for another season, but the Hall of Fame trainer has one of the more promising Kentucky Derby (G1) contenders in To Honor and Serve.
An easy winner of the Nov. 6 Remsen Stakes (G2) and Nov. 27 Nashua Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct, To Honor and Serve has developed nicely for Mott. Not only has the son of Bernardini already won at 1 1/8 miles, but he’s bankrolled $210,000 in graded earnings.
After winning the Nashua, To Honor and Serve, owned by Live Oak Plantation, earned some time off.
“I went to see him recently in Ocala and he’s got a nice paddock and seemed to be adapting well,” Mott said. “He’s been turned out, but he’ll probably start jogging next week and I’ll get him the first of the year.”
Like everyone else with a promising classic contender, Mott, who won the Belmont Stakes (G1) last year with Drosselmeyer, is beginning to consider a winter schedule for To Honor and Serve.
“Some of the first options would be right here in Florida at Gulfstream Park,” Mott said. “We’ll have to decide when we want to crank him up. I think we’d like to start the end of February, the middle of March…somewhere in that window.
“They have two mile-and-a-furlong races here, one being the (Feb. 26) Fountain of Youth (G2) and the other the (April 3) Florida Derby (G1). I could see the horse going a mile-and-an-eighth the first time, because he’s done it (in the Remsen). Would he have to? No, he could probably run a little shorter; then I could stretch him out. But the Fountain of Youth would be a possibility.”
As for Unrivaled Belle, whose championship 2010 season included a victory in Gulfstream’s Rampart Stakes (G2), the filly is with Mott at Payson Park and will begin training by the end of the month.
TRAINER FAUCHEUX READY FOR FIRST GULFSTREAM MEET
While trainer Ron Faucheux is spending his first winter at Gulfstream Park, he’s no stranger to South Florida. The 28-year-old Louisiana native not only spent winters working for Todd Pletcher at Palm Meadows, but graduated from Lynn University in Boca Raton.
“Louisiana is where my heart is, but spending the winter at Gulfstream is such a great opportunity that I could never pass anything like this up,” said Faucheux outside his Gulfstream barn, where he shipped in with 11 horses.
Faucheux grew up going to the Fair Grounds with his stepfather, noted horseman Louis Roussel III, before working for Bill Badgett. “The first time I went to the track I loved it,” Faucheux said. “I knew I was going to do something at the track. I really got into it in the middle ‘90s when (Roussel) was leading owner and second-leading trainer. I really started working first with (Badgett), just working my way through the ranks.”
After taking out his trainer’s license last winter, Faucheux had the good fortune of having two horses sent to him in New Orleans by perennial-leading owner Frank Calabrese.
“Mr. Calabrese sent me two horses and I was able to win three races with those horses,” Faucheux said. “He gave me some money to claim, and then he asked me to come to Arlington.”
Between April and September at Arlington, Faucheux won 14 of the 35 races he entered, while 74 percent of the horses he saddled finished in the money. Faucheux will start the meet with a couple of 2-year-olds in his barn, older claimers and a bright future.
PRESIOUS PASSION RETURNS FOR ANOTHER SEASON
He’s fresh; he’s fit; and he’s ready for action.
Patricia Generazio’s multiple stakes-winning gelding Presious Passion, whose speed and large heart has carried him to earnings of more than $2.6 million and back-to-back victories in Gulfstream’s Mac Diarmida Stakes, has arrived for his sixth consecutive winter at Gulfstream. After a trying 2010 campaign, the soon-to-be 8-year-old “seems like he’s back to his regular self,” according to trainer Mary Hartmann.
“He’s been aggressive in his training here and spirited, so it seems like things are setting up nicely,” said Hartmann, who hopes Presious Passion can win his third McKnight Handicap at Calder on Dec. 18.
Presious Passion started the 2010 season by winning the Mac Diarmida, earning him a trip to Dubai and the Sheema Classic. But Presious Passion didn’t like the soft turf course and finished last.
“The turf was perfect leading up to the race, but they watered the night before the race and between the races,” Hartmann said. “Who would have thought they’d have soft turf in the desert?”
Presious Passion was given six weeks off this summer at a farm near Monmouth Park and, according to Hartmann, it did the gelding good. “He was living large. I call it mental-health time. But he came back great and soundness isn’t an issue. So we’re hoping for good things this winter.”