Oaklawn Park News
Photo: Courtesy Of NYRA
Trainer Bill Mott is nearing another milestone in his Hall of Fame career.
According to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization, Mott entered Thursday with 4,987 career victories. Only six trainers in North American history have reached 5,000 career victories, one being perennial Oaklawn champion Steve Asmussen.
Mott, based in South Florida in the winter and early spring, has two horses entered Saturday at Oaklawn, including stakes-winning Frank’s Rockette in the $100,000 Purple Martin Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters.
Mott had a strong presence at Oaklawn during the early and mid-1980s, topping the standings in 1986 with 35 victories. His major clients in those days included Louisiana oilman John Franks and Michigan businessman Farid Sefa.
“I had some great opportunities with those people,” Mott, 66, said Thursday morning. “Mr. Franks, Mr. Sefa, they always supplied me with good horses. I was very fortunate. When it’s all said and done, it’s all about the horses. They’re the ones that make you win.”
A protégé of the late Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg, Mott saddled his first winner in 1973, according to Equibase. Mott’s first of 85 victories, to date, at Oaklawn came Feb. 12, 1975, with Colorado Bay in a claiming race for older horses. A decade later, Mott was winning big events in Hot Springs like the $250,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares with Heatherten (Franks) and Sefa’s Beauty (Sefa). Heatherten, in 1984, represented Mott’s first career Grade 1 victory.
“It was certainly one of our favorite places to run,” Mott said of Oaklawn. “We’ve done very well there.”
Mott’s last Oaklawn victory came in 2014 when future Eclipse Award winner Close Hatches captured the $600,000 Apple Blossom (G1) for famed Juddmonte Farms, Inc. Mott has collected 18 stakes victories overall in Hot Springs, including consecutive runnings (1995 and 1996) of the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G1) for older horses with Cigar and Geri, respectively. Cigar was named Horse of the Year in 1995 and 1996 and inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2002.
Mott has the 5-2 program favorite for the Purple Martin in Frank’s Rockette, who exits a front-running seven-length victory in the $75,000 Any Limit Stakes Feb. 22 at Gulfstream Park. The daughter of super sire Into Mischief was making her 3-year-old debut for breeder/owner Frank Fletcher of North Little Rock, Ark.
“We wanted to bring her there and run her at least once,” Mott said. “She had a race earlier and this one worked into the schedule. Of course, nothing’s normal circumstances right now, with the way everything is. We’ve been planning on it for a while. I’m glad to have entered and glad we might have the opportunity to run.”
Mott’s other entrant Saturday is Cardamon in a first-level allowance sprint for fillies and mares. Cardamon will be making her 4-year-old debut for Juddmonte, which also bred the daughter of Pioneerofthe Nile.
Mott is a three-time Eclipse Award winner as the country’s outstanding trainer (1995, 1996 and 2011) and a 1998 Hall of Fame inductee.
Asmussen, a 2016 Hall of Fame inductee, entered Thursday with 8,819 career North American victories to rank second all-time, according to Equibase. Asmussen has won 10 Oaklawn training titles – all since 2007. Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, wintering at Oaklawn for the first time this year, ranked third with 7,646. Van Berg, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1983 and 1984, was fourth with 6,523.
Mott also had horses entered Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at Gulfstream Park.