(UPDATED: Please stop reading now. The race has been run, and I am embarrassed.)
The last time Bill Mott ran a first-time starter going two turns on the dirt was on January 25th, 2017. The horse was named Frontliner. The race was at 1 mile and 40 yards at Tampa Bay Downs. Frontliner finished 7th of 9 that day, and the race was won by eventual Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming.
On Saturday, exactly three years later to the day, the Mott-trained Trove makes his first career start going 1 1/16th miles on the dirt at Gulfstream Park in a maiden special weight event under jockey Joel Rosario. And since we are talking about “last times”, the last time Joel Rosario rode a first-time starter for Mott, he romped by open lengths aboard a horse named Hidden Scroll (one year ago Sunday for those of you scoring at home).
Trove fetched a hefty $650k at auction as a yearling, and began training up at Saratoga last spring before being put on the shelf and then reappearing on the work tab in November. The works have been steady since then up at Payson, the most recent of which was over the grass. Trove is listed at 8/1 on the morning line, but I’m predicting those Claiborne silks will drive the price lower when combined with the names Mott and Rosario.
What does all of this mean? Eh, perhaps absolutely nothing. But perhaps it’s a sign that Bill Mott believes he has something in Trove that merits a slightly different approach than we are used to seeing from a Mott first-timer. If Trove wins on Saturday, we are probably going to see him next in a stakes race against some known Kentucky Derby hopefuls. That’s right. The Derby Trail.
Mott is the defending Derby winner, but as we know he has yet to hit the wire first in the Kentucky Derby. What kind of odds can I get on Trove taking Mott to the Churchill Downs winners’ circle for a second consecutive year? Seriously, I am asking. What kind of odds? Is anyone in Vegas at the moment?