It has been quite a good week in Kentucky for the Mott family.
On Nov. 5 Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott won two Breeders’ Cup World Championships races at Keeneland, with Godolphin’s Cody’s Wish capturing the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Juddmonte’s Elite Power taking the Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Then on Nov. 10, Mott’s son Riley scored the first training victory of his young training career when Unifying led throughout in the sixth race at Churchill Downs, a restricted $90,900 maiden race for 2-year-old fillies.
Under Florent Geroux, Unifying sped to the front and left the opposition behind in winning by 1 3/4 lengths.
“Good day, been looking forward to that my entire life, really,” said Riley, who watched the race on his cell phone from Hot Springs, Ark., where he has 15 horses readying for the upcoming meet at Oaklawn Park.
Riley, 30, said he left a few horses behind in Kentucky to run at Churchill Downs. Kenny McCarthy, Bill Mott’s longtime Kentucky-based assistant, saddled his winner on Thursday.
Unifying earned $52,320 for owners Sheri Greenberg, Staghawk Stables, Tom Reiman, and Ronald Johnson in her second career start. Previously she had been second in her Sept. 15 debut at the Belmont at the Big A meet at Aqueduct Racetrack for the elder Mott. On Thursday, the Union Rags filly raced six furlongs in 1:11.17, paying $4.90 to win.
A native of Hollywood, Fla., Riley assisted his father for nearly nine years before going out on his own this fall. Unifying was his third starter, all of them coming this month at Churchill Downs.
“My dad was hopefully as happy today as he was last week,” Riley said. “It’s nice to do well on that circuit, win my first race at Churchill. Obviously, my dad has a lot of history there. The track’s been really good to him. It’s pretty neat to win my first race there, too.”
His father was at one time the winningest trainer in Churchill Downs history before he was passed by Dale Romans and later Steve Asmussen. The elder Mott established the record for the number of victories at a single Churchill Downs meeting, 54, during the 1984 spring meet.
The Hall of Famer then began gearing his stable around New York racing while maintaining a smaller division in Kentucky. He won Eclipse Awards as outstanding trainer in 1995, 1996, and 2011.
Riley said he hopes to pick up a few more horses from the farm for racing at Oaklawn and potentially others from the Horses of Racing Age Sale at Keeneland, taking place next week.
“I will be [in Arkansas] through the winter and hopefully making it back to Kentucky in the springtime,” he said.