Yoshida Exits Woodward Win in Good Order

The Bill Mott trained Yoshida made his first dirt start a winning one, taking the Woodward (G1) at Saratoga. (Photo credit: NBC Sports).

Yoshida came out of his win in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward in good order, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said from his barn Sunday morning. Making his debut on dirt after his first 10 races came on turf, Yoshida rallied from 10th at the half-mile mark before gaining ground and surging in the stretch to defeat Gunnevera by two lengths.

“He looked pretty good this morning,” Mott said. “I wouldn’t say I was confident at [that point] but I thought he was travelling well and then, once he left the half-mile pole, you could see he was starting to go in the right direction. It was a good sign.”

In his 4-year-old campaign, Yoshida has already registered Grade 1 wins on both turf and dirt, posting a three-quarter length score in the Old Forester Turf Classic on May 5 at Churchill Downs. The Japanese-bred Heart’s Cry colt, who ran fifth in the Group 1 Queen Anne on June 19 at Royal Ascot before running fifth in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at one mile on August 11 at the Spa, had been training at Saratoga since May with seven of his last nine breezes coming on the Oklahoma dirt training track near his stable.

“We just trained him normally, we didn’t do anything special,” Mott said. “He trains on the dirt every day. Maybe some people might know [about switching surfaces], but [you have to] prove it. You have to see it in the afternoons under race conditions. That’s what really counts. You can always think that he’s handling it well with training, but race conditions are a different story.”

Woodward Replay

Mott said he did not have any definitive plans for Yoshida’s next start. The colt earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for besting the 14-horse Woodward field at 1 1/8 miles, marking the second time he’s recorded a triple-digit Beyer and his second-highest figure after his 106 in the Turf Classic.

Mott said the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Del Mar could be a possibility, but said Yoshida’s next stop has yet to be determined.

Yoshida is owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International, Head of Plains Partners and SF Racing.

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Mucho remains all systems go for the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful on Monday, Closing Day, Mott said. The Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider homebred has already won during the Saratoga meet, registering a maiden-breaking 9 ¾-length victory on August 4.

The 8-5 morning-line favorite drew post 7 in the eight-horse field with Jose Ortiz set to ride.

“He’s good and he’s all set for tomorrow,” Mott said.

Elate is back in training after running second to Abel Tasman by a head in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on Travers Day, August 25, at Saratoga. Mott said he is undecided if the 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly could be pointing towards in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on November 3 or instead challenge males in the Classic at 1 ¼ miles later that same day.

“She’s been back on the track and training,” Mott said. “We’d be ready for both. We wouldn’t change our training for either race.”

Entering Sunday, Mott’s 13 wins during the current meet tied him with fellow Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen for third on the trainer’s standings, trailing only Todd Pletcher’s 18 wins and Chad Brown’s record-setting 43 victories.

“It means if I want to go to the races, I’ll have to go on the road,” said Mott with a laugh when asked about New York racing moving to Belmont for the start of the fall meet on Friday.

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