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Batten Down Prepares for Belmont Stakes Assignment

Juddmonte’s Kentucky homebred Batten Down  is the latest addition to the prospective field for the $2 million Belmont Stakes (G1). Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott confirmed the son of Tapit   is under consideration for the June 8 final leg of the Triple Crown, taking place this year over 1 1/4 miles at Saratoga Race Course. 

“I don’t know if he’ll get in or not—he’s only broken his maiden,” Mott said, suggesting possible exclusion if the race overfills.

Batten Down was an eye-catching winner at fourth asking in an April 30 maiden special weight going the Belmont distance against elders at Churchill Downs. Ridden by Junior Alvarado, Batten Down went straight to the lead and never looked back, widening his advantage at nearly every point of call to draw off to an 8 3/4-length victory in a final time of 2:02.49. He was awarded an 88 Equibase Speed Figure. 

“It was a spectacular ride by Junior Alvarado,” said Mott. “We were pleased to find out he handled the distance good.” 

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Batten Down has improved with more ground in each start, as would be expected with his pedigree. Out of multiple grade 1 winner and 2014 champion older mare Close Hatches , Batten Down is a full brother to the Mott-trained Tacitus  , second in the 2019 Belmont Stakes at its traditional 1 1/2-mile distance. He later won the 1 1/4-mile Surburban Stakes (G2) as a 4-year-old in 2020. 

Batten Down finished sixth on debut sprinting seven furlongs in January, but was defeated a neck in his next start when stretched out to 1 1/8 miles. He then finished a close third with stalking tactics when traveling 1 1/16 miles ahead of his breakthrough score in his longest test to date. 

Batten Down worked May 20 over Saratoga Race Course’s Oklahoma dirt training track, covering five-eighths in 1:02.55 with Alvarado at the helm. 

“It was beautiful, and Junior worked him like poetry in motion. It was a beautiful piece of work,” said Mott. 

In addition to Batten Down, among those currently under consideration for the Belmont Stakes (with trainers) are Antiquarian  (Todd Pletcher), Dornoch  (Danny Gargan), Fierceness  (Pletcher), Honor Marie  (Whit Beckman), Seize the Grey  (D. Wayne Lukas), Sierra Leone  (Chad Brown), The Wine Steward  (Mike Maker), and Tuscan Gold  (Brown). Trainer Ken McPeek is considering entering Mystik Dan . If McPeek does not enter the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, there is the possibility he could enter Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Thorpedo Anna  instead.

Mott has plenty to look forward to at the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, with at least four other trainees eyeing stakes engagements during the lucrative weekend. They include Just F Y I  to the June 7 Acorn Stakes (G1), War Like Goddess  to the June 7 New York Stakes (G1T), Casa Creed  to the June 8 Poker Stakes (G3T), and Sosua Summer  to the June 8 Jaipur Stakes (G1T).

War Like Goddess resumed breezing last week after missing the April 26 Bewitch Stakes (G3T) at Keeneland due to a cut on one of her legs. Mott believes the 1 3/16-mile distance of the New York Stakes on turf is short of her best trip, but there are not many longer races suitable to her in the region in the immediate future.

“I wish we had a race at the proper distance for her,” he said.

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

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