RIYADH: Considering Bill Mott’s career, it goes without saying that one must take his world-stage contenders seriously — and serious contenders are exactly what the iconic conditioner has at this year’s Saudi Cup meeting.
Mott won the first major international Flat race in the Middle East — the 1996 Dubai World Cup with Cigar — and has captured 12 Breeders’ Cups since.
Fresh off a victory with Saudi Cup alumnus Art Collector in last month’s Pegasus World Cup, Mott seeks more big race glory with Juddmonte’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Elite Power (USA) and LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable’s Casa Creed (USA) – leading chances in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint presented by Sports Boulevard and the 1351 Turf Sprint presented by stc respectively.
Mott’s right-hand man accompanying his international travels over the past few years has been assistant trainer and exercise rider Neil Poznansky, who was aboard for the final serious workouts on Tuesday morning at King Abdulaziz Racecourse.
Having arrived on Friday with a couple of days on the track to acclimatize, the pair appeared comfortable in their 600m blowout breezes down the stretch.
“Elite Power seemed to handle it really well,” Poznansky said. “He’s training exceptionally well. Elite Power wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think he could win. He seemed to like the track in the breeze — I got him in about 38 (seconds) — so hopefully that transfers into his race.
“He is a big, strong animal who just loves running. He can be pretty active in his training, where Casa Creed is an old professional, but both were perfect today and both did all their prep work well back at Payson Park in Florida.”
Three-time Grade 1 winner Casa Creed completed his maintenance work under Poznansky with precision before heading back to the international quarantine without a fuss.
A seven-time winner from 29 starts, who finished second in the 1351 Turf Sprint last year, the son of Jimmy Creed followed up his Riyadh run with a close fifth in Dubai’s Al-Quoz Sprint before winning Belmont’s Jaipur Stakes over 1,200 meters and Saratoga’s Fourstardave over 1,600 meters.
“We can take him anywhere,” Poznansky said. “He’s really a neat horse to be around. The last couple of days he’s just doing his thing and going around there and I think he recognises the place. He’s a seven-year-old, but he’s training as good – if not better – than ever.
“I think Luis [Saez, jockey] knows him a lot better this time, as it was his first time on him last year. The unique distance here hits him right between the eyes and is in his favor. The horses are unraced since the Breeders’ Cup but they’re both doing great and Casa Creed, especially, seems to really enjoy running fresh.”
Being a substantial part of Team Mott gives Poznansky the privilege of learning from a conditioner who appears to have mastered the nuanced process of shipping a top-class runner from America abroad, performing well and then returning the horse to its best form upon return. Casa Creed’s 2022 campaign would be a prime example.
“Bill reads the horse really well and just has a feeling of what to do with them,” Poznansky said. “He knows when he needs to back off and when to press on. He’s very hands-on about everything. He’s really amazing at what he does.”