USA: Ron The Greek shows Classic potential for Mott
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By Nicholas Godfrey
Churchill Downs: Stephen Foster Hcap (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+
TRAINER Bill Mott, who took last year's Breeders' Cup Classic with Drosselmeyer, is eyeing back-to-back successes in America's richest race after Ron The Greek (Jose Lezcano) won an exciting Stephen Foster in the final strides.
The last-gasp victory capped a big night under the Churchill Downs floodlights for the reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer, who also saddled Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic heroine Royal Delta to win the Fleur'de Lis earlier on the same card.
Santa Anita Handicap winner Ron The Greek is making a habit of landing come-from-behind victories in the nation's most prestigious races for older horses.
As usual, on this occasion he sat well back off the pace set by Nates Mineshaft, who looked as if he might steal the race as he turned into the stretch full of running only to fall just shy as he was challenged on both sides in the final half-furlong of the $440,000 event, named in honour of the composer of Kentucky Derby anthem My Old Kentucky Home.
Wise Dan, the 4-5 favourite, went past with about 50 yards to go only to get tagged by 9-1 shot Ron The Greek, who made his move on the inside of Nates Mineshaft. The winner, a five-year-old son of Full Mandate, scored by a head as he stopped the clock in 1m50.51s.
After winning the Breeder' Cup Classic last year at this venue with Drosselmeyer, Mott is well aware that Ron The Greek already has a major Grade 1 victory to his name at Santa Anita, which hosts this year's two-day extravaganza in November.
"Having won at ten furlongs at Santa Anita, it was certainly on our minds," he said. "We started on him pretty early, so we'll probably give him a break now and point for the Jockey Club Gold Cup and then the Breeders' Cup Classic.
"We felt pretty good after he won the race out there but it's good to see him come back and run two good races since the Santa Anita Handicap," added the trainer.
"He seems like he's an improving horse and you'd have to say he's one of the top handicap horses in the country. It was a very good field tonight and I feel proud of our horse that he was able to beat such a good field."
Also on Saturday
Churchill Downs: Fleur'de Lis Hcap (Grade 2) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+ f/m
On a big night for Bill Mott, the champion trainer also saddled Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic winner Royal Delta (Mike Smith) for first victory of 2012 here with a decisive eight-length margin.
Sold for $8.5 million at Keeneland in November, the four-year-old endured a troubled passage at the Dubai World Cup before returning with this dominant performance giving between 5-9lb to five rivals as the 3-5 favourite. She won with her ears pricked under hand riding in an impressive display.
Hollywood Park: Vanity Hcap (Grade 1) 1m1f, AW, 3yo+ f/m
A shock 18-1 success for Love Theway Youare (Myung Kwon Cho/Garrett Gomez), who broke an 11-race losing skein with her first stakes win of any kind in this $250,000 event.
The four-year-old ran down odds-on favourite Include'Me Out, who weakened after holding a three-length lead entering the stretch in a race where leading fancied Ellafitz and Zazu were both scratched.
Colonial Downs: Colonial Turf Cup (Grade 2) 1m1½f, turf, 3yo+
Turbo Compressor (Todd Pletcher/Joe Bravo) was sent off 5-2 market leader before recording an all-the-way victory in this $500,000 contest
View the original article at the Racing Post