Mott and Cella Team Up 

January 13, 2023

Riley Mott giving one of his trainees a work at Oaklawn. (Coady Photography)

Trainer Riley Mott and Oaklawn owner Louis Cella send out first starter

Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.—Trainer Riley Mott and Oaklawn owner Louis Cella are scheduled to send out their first starter together, Dealing Justice, in Saturday’s eighth race, a $106,000 allowance sprint for older fillies and mares.

Mott, on behalf of Cella, purchased Dealing Justice and Mystic Night for $135,000 and $120,000, respectively, at Keeneland’s November Horses of Racing Age Sale. Cella, as a Thoroughbred owner, is 1 for 1 at the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting after Sinner’s Sin broke his maiden Dec. 17 for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs. Mott is wintering at Oaklawn after going out on his own Nov. 1. He previously assisted his father, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, for eight years. 

“The idea was to go buy a horse that was ready to run at Oaklawn,” Riley Mott said. “Those two have been running throughout (2022) and they’re proven horses. One, I just wanted to get a couple of nice horses and I think they’re both nice horses. They’ve run through a lot of their conditions, but I think you can find spots for them. The one filly, Dealing Justice, on her day, she’s pretty tough. We’ve run against her several times in New York. We’ve been on the same circuit and run against them. They’re two solid horses, so I think that was the main criterion.”

Dealing Justice, a 5-year-old daughter of Commissioner, broke her maiden in January 2021 at Aqueduct for trainer Ray Handal. She finished fourth in her last start, a Nov. 11 allowance sprint at Aqueduct. All but two of Dealing Justice’s 14 lifetime starts have come on the New York Racing Association circuit. Dealing Justice has three victories overall and $246,818 in earnings. 

Francisco Arrieta, Oaklawn’s co-leading rider in 2021-2022, is named to ride Dealing Justice (15-1 on the morning line) from post 6 Saturday. 

Mystic Night, a 6-year-old gelded son of super sire Into Mischief, has a 4-2-0 record from 12 lifetime starts and earnings of $273,231. Mystic Night finished fourth in the $135,000 Alydar Stakes for older horses at 1 1/8 miles last August at Saratoga. The winner, millionaire Art Collector, is trained by Bill Mott. The fifth-place finisher, Bal Harbour, captured the $200,000 Tinsel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles Dec. 17 at Oaklawn. Bal Harbour had been claimed out of a Sept. 5 victory at Saratoga for $50,000 by 2022-2023 Oaklawn leading trainer Robertino Diodoro. 

Mystic Night was previously with four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown. Mystic Knight has five published workouts at Oaklawn since Dec. 12.

Riley Mott was in Hot Springs during Keeneland’s November Horses of Racing Age Sale. Dealing Justice and Mystic Night were purchased on the advice of Mott’s friend, Kentucky bloodstock agent Phil Hager (Taproot Bloodstock). Mott said he and Hager were fraternity brothers at the University of Kentucky and Hager also briefly worked as a barn foreman for Bill Mott.

“Actually, I knew him before I went to Kentucky,” Riley Mott said. “We’ve known each other for a long time and then he was working for (bloodstock agent) David Ingordo, among some other people, and broke out on his own. Prior to that, he worked for us for a summer at Saratoga. We started giving him some business when he broke off on his own. We’ve done well together. He’s not the only person we use, but definitely someone we lean on.”

Mott recorded his first career training victory Nov. 10 at Churchill Downs with Unifying. It was his third career starter. Although Mott entered Friday 0 for 8 at the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting, he had one second and three thirds. The runner-up finish came with Unifying – his first career stakes starter – in the inaugural $150,000 Year’s End for 2-year-old fillies at 1 mile Dec. 31. Bill Mott was Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1986 and has a small string this season in Hot Springs.

Finish Lines

Favored Winterwood ($5.80) represented trainer Terry Brennan’s first Oaklawn victory in more than a decade in the ninth race Jan. 8, a $104,000 allowance for older horses at 1 mile. Brennan’s last Oaklawn victory had been March 24, 2011. Brennan, of Hot Springs, had claimed Winterwood for $50,000 out of maiden victory last January at Oaklawn. Winterwood, a 4-year-old son of Maclean’s Music, was Brennan’s 94th career Oaklawn victory. …

Coach was retired following an eighth-place finish in the $150,000 Pippin Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 7 at Oaklawn, trainer Brad Cox said Wednesday afternoon. Campaigned by Kueber Racing LLC, Coach had a 5-3-2 record from 15 lifetime starts and earnings of $466,565. The 5-year-old daughter of Commissioner won the 2022 Pippin but had dull efforts in two of her last three starts following a long vacation last year. “We feel like she’s done enough,” Cox said. “She obviously kind of tailed off in her last couple of runs and she’s worth something as a broodmare. She’s done enough. She’s a stake winner at 2, a stake winner at 4. She’s been around a long time now and it looks like her better race days are behind her and she deserves to be treated right and that’s what we’re going to do.” …

“Oaklawn Raceday,” featuring David Longinotti, director of Oaklawn Anywhere, and Equibase representative Jeff Taylor, can be heard Saturdays 11 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (Central) during the 2022-2023 meeting on Little Rock, Ark., radio station KABZ-FM 103.7 and www.1037thebuzz.comMarshall Gramm, co-founder of Ten Strike Racing, is this week’s special guest. 

Nice score King! @jonathanstettin Well played with the 4 singled on one ticket. 2 times! Big congrats.

Michael R. Snow (@theWynnDough) View testimonials

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