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Mott considers Belmont Stakes, Ohio Derby for Batten Down

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Batten Down worked Monday over Saratoga Race Course’s Oklahoma dirt training track in company with older two-time winner Arthur’s Ride for Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott.

Under cloudy skies and the looming threat of rain, Batten Down and Arthur’s Ride stepped onto the backside of the track shortly after the 7:00 a.m. EDT maintenance break concluded and stretched their legs with almost a full counterclockwise lap around the oval before commencing a five-furlong effort.

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Batten Down, with jockey Junior Alvarado up, went on the outside of Arthur’s Ride as NYRA clockers caught them through splits of 12.54, 24.80, 36.99 and through five-eighths in 1:01.99 before galloping out in 1:14.19 and 1:28.94. The pair stayed on even terms throughout with Arthur’s Ride a long head in front at the wire. Both horses wore blinkers for the work.

Mott, who trains Batten Down for owner-breeder Juddmonte, said he was pleased with the effort but is not ready to confirm Batten Down for the $2 million Belmont Stakes on June 8 at the Spa.

“I don’t know if I’m running in the Belmont – he (Batten Down) had a nice work,” said Mott. “It couldn’t have gone better. He went with an older horse and they breezed nicely together. Junior was pleased with him, so (now) we decide where we go.

“Maybe we skip the Belmont and go to Ohio possibly,” Mott added regarding the $500,000 Ohio Derby (G3) on June 22 at Thistledown. “We’ve got to figure it out.”

Alvarado has been aboard for Batten Down’s last two outings, including his last-out graduation at Churchill Downs. The veteran rider expressed his satisfaction with the way the colt worked.

“I love him. He’s a very nice horse to be around and he’s a very kind horse,” Alvarado said. “He’s a little different in the afternoon and gets very aggressive and wants to go, go, go. But he lets you do whatever you want in the morning. Arthur is a good work horse and it was a very good pairing – beautiful and enjoying their work together.”

Batten Down ran with his head tilted slightly as he ran alongside Arthur’s Ride in the stretch, but Alvarado said it is not something that concerns him.

“He does that. When he gets a little in front or he’s about to pass a horse, he always likes to lean in and play around,” said Alvarado. “He’s always been that kind of horse, but we know that when it’s race time, he gets serious. He’s a totally different animal in the afternoon.”

Batten Down, a full brother to the Mott-trained multiple graded-stakes winner Tacitus, posted his second work since his romping graduation against elders in a 10-furlong tilt on April 30 at Churchill. With Alvarado in the irons, Batten Down went wire-to-wire and extended his advantage at each point of call, cruising home an 8 3/4-length winner in a final time of 2:02.49.

“I was very pleased with the way he won last time,” said Alvarado. “He got out of there and was moving pretty quick the first part – 23 and change, and then he kept going to 47 and change. When I’m hitting the five-eighths pole, I’m thinking, ‘He’s going to stop completely.’ But he surprised me when he switched leads to the right – he found another gear and took off. Passing the wire, he was so full of energy. I think this race (the Belmont) would suit him perfectly. He knows how to cover that ground and go fast and the same pace the whole way around. He’s got the talent, he’s just got to put it all together.”

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