Bill Mott knows about pressure from his days with the great Cigar. Now the trainer gets unbeaten Favorite Trick, the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby.
Joseph LaCombe, Favorite Trick’s majority owner, chose Mott to replace Patrick Byrne. Byrne will train exclusively for Canadian industrialist Frank Stronach.
“I made the decision Monday evening after talking to him for about two hours,” LaCombe said by phone Wednesday from West Palm Beach, Fla. “We talked about our philosophy, and I made the decision because of his experience in working with Cigar and a few other horses.”
Favorite Trick won all eight starts in 1997, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 8.
“I’ve seen him run,” Mott said by phone from Florida. “He has a good disposition. Up until now he’s run fast. There’s a question about how far he’ll go, but he got 1 1-16 miles in the Breeders’ Cup. He’s probably not bred to be a mile-and-a-quarter horse (the Derby distance), but we’ll just have to play that out.”
Favorite Trick will be honored as champion 2-year-old when Eclipse Awards are announced today. The colt also is a candidate for Horse of the Year, which will be announced Feb. 10.
“If things go the way we hope, it will be turbulent year for Favorite Trick,” LaCombe said.
Mott won Eclipse Awards as the nation’s top trainer in 1995 and ‘96. Those were the years Cigar was Horse of the Year and equaled Citation’s modern record of 16 straight victories.
Mott has had a number of top horses but only one Kentucky Derby starter - Taylor’s Special, who was 13th in 1984.
Since the Breeders’ Cup, LaCombe has sold 40 percent of Favorite Trick to Walmac International syndicate in Kentucky.