Motion aims to continue summer success in G2 Hall of Fame
By Phil Janack
Give No Quarter
With two-thirds of the meet remaining, Graham Motion already has more wins at Saratoga Race Course than he did in the previous two summers combined.
The 50-year-old trainer looks to keep things rolling when he sends out Sagamore Farm's Give No Quarter in Friday's Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course.
A native of Cambridge, England who worked for five years under Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard before going out on his own in 1990, Motion had won seven races and $536,793 in purses through 15 days of Saratoga's 40-day meet, highlighted by Daring Dancer in the Grade 2 Lake George, Stars Above Me in the Coronation Cup, and impressive juveniles Strong Coffee and Pride of Stride.
After an 8-for-33 meet in 2011 where he won four stakes including the Grade 2 Ballston Spa and Grade 2 With Anticipation, Motion went 2-for-40 in 2012 and 3-for-34 last summer, banking a total of $662,538.
"To come up here and be competitive in allowance races is great," said the Maryland-based Motion, "but when you can come up and be competitive in stakes, it's tremendous. This is what we all sort of point for, and I feel very lucky to have the stock I do to be able to compete the way we have.
"I definitely felt that we are much more live than we were before. I probably have the best group of 2-year-olds I've ever had. I certainly felt good coming up here, but even when you feel good about it, it doesn't always mean things pan out. You've got to get in the races and things have to go well. It's very competitive racing."
A sophomore son of Tiz Wonderful, Give No Quarter made a successful debut on turf in his first start of the year, a 1 1/16-mile entry-level allowance at Belmont Park on July 9. After saving ground early, he took the lead at the top of the stretch and drew off to win by 3 ½ lengths at 11-1 in the field of 12.
"He was really impressive. I mean, he did it really the right way," said Motion. "The only thing that worries me is coming back quite quickly. It's a month off a really big effort off of the layoff, but he ran a big race that day. I was very impressed with him."
Motion unveiled Give No Quarter with a pair of starts over the all-weather surface at Presque Isle Downs last summer, including a one-mile maiden victory in September. Eased after six furlongs in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine, he was third on the dirt in November at Laurel Park before getting a break.
"To this day, I don't know what happened at Woodbine. It was just a total mystery to me," said Motion. "We ended up giving him the winter off, and he came back working really impressively. I was excited to run him, and it was a great spot at Belmont. He got to run against 3-year-olds on the grass and I couldn't have anticipated him winning the way he did. You certainly hope they are fit enough when you run them for he first time [off a layoff], but I felt like he was fit. I couldn't have expected him to win as comfortably as he did."
Also returning to graded stakes competition is So Lonesome for trainer Tom Bush. The 3-year-old Awesome Again gelding beat elders in a New York-bred optional claimer at the Hall of Fame distance on May 31, then ran third by two lengths in the open Manila Stakes.
"He's done well since his last race. I'm glad he's getting a little bit more time between races for this one," said Bush. "He's kind of a light-framed horse and puts a lot into his training. He's a very aggressive horse and a really good work horse, so it's kind of hard to keep the weight on him. He's eating really well up here and really acting well. He's coming into the race good. I'm sure the race is going to be difficult, but I'm really hopeful that he belongs."
Owned by Patricia Schuler, So Lonesome broke his maiden at Saratoga last summer going 6 ½ furlongs on dirt. He raced at the front in his past two starts, but Bush isn't convinced the horse is limited to that style of running.
"The two turns, I like that for him," said Bush. "He's really good on turns, and this is a true two-turn race unlike Belmont, so I'm hoping that's going to help us a little bit, too. I don't know that he has to be on the lead, but he's been a little headstrong his last couple starts. Hopefully we can talk him out of it and he can go a little easier if he is up there."
So Lonesome was ninth in the Grade 3 Palm Beach on turf at Gulfstream Park in his March 1 debut and seventh in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland in April in his other graded stakes tries.
"I always have thought a lot of this horse," said Bush. "I probably haven't managed him particularly well, and I'm not proud of that. I still do believe in the horse and I hope that I can prove that."
The likely favorite in the Hall of Fame is Bashart, who broke his maiden and captured the Grade 2 With Anticipation in a span of 11 days last summer at Saratoga. Second in the Grade 3 Bourbon and sixth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf to end his 2-year-old campaign, the War Front colt was fifth in the Manila in his lone start this year.
Also entered are Grade 3 Pilgrim winner Bobby's Kitten making his third start of 2014 for trainer Chad Brown; Manila runner-up Long On Value; and Wallyanna, winner of the James Murphy Stakes at Pimlico in May. Matterhorn, most recently eighth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, is entered for the main track only.
The field for the Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame: