Saturday, November 24th, 2007, was a pretty good day for trainer Bill Mott. He swept the two-year-old stakes that day at Aqueduct when Court Vision overcame an inquiry to win the Grade II Remsen; a race earlier, his Mushka had rallied from last to win the Grade II Demoiselle.
Yesterday, one might have wondered whether Mott recalled that day, experiencing a weird kind of déjà vu, as over the weekend, both of these horses returned to the winner’s circle, only this time, the inquiry involved Mushka.
Mott no longer trains Court Vision, who on Saturday won the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile; these days, the four-year-old Gulch colt is in the barn of Richard Dutrow. And Mushka has a different owner than the one for whom she won the Demoiselle: owned then by Zayat Stables, Brushwood Stables purchased her a year ago in the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
And though each horse notched that first stakes victory on the dirt, neither of one of them raced on it this weekend: Court Vision added another grass stakes to his résumé, while Mushka became the latest horse to win a graded stakes on three different surfaces: dirt (the Demoiselle); grass (the Glens Falls); and Polytrack.
So, much has changed in the lives of these horses since that November day two years ago. After that Remsen win, the words “Kentucky Derby” were mentioned in the same sentence with Court Vision; Mushka was supposed to be in Louisville that weekend in 2008, too, running in the Oaks. Court Vision made it to the Run for the Roses and finished 13th; Mushka got injured and was off the track through the spring. Her comeback was slow, and at times, one wondered whether she could return to the promising form of her two-year-old year.
She’s made nine starts this year, hitting the board in six and winning three; lifetime, she’s three for three at Keeneland, with one of those wins coming on the turf. A perfect two for two on the Polytrack, she’s likely headed to Santa Anita and the Distaff Filly and Mare Classic Ladies’ Classic.
Court Vision, too, is headed westward, with Richard Dutrow indicating that both the Classic and the Mile are under consideration.
Mushka’s perfect record in Lexington looked in danger as she raced wide around the final turn, but in her typical fashion, she charged at the leaders, making up ground with every stride. Moving suddenly to her right as she approached the wire, she lost momentum, finishing second by a length and a quarter.
The replay was clear, though: Proviso came over and impeded Mushka, and after an inquiry and objection, Mushka was placed first. Bill Mott said afterwards, “We don’t like to win this way,” but as was the case after that inquiry in the Remsen, it was he and horse in the winner’s circle, he accepting the trophy, he answering questions about what might be next.
Aqueduct in November and Keeneland in October might not, generally speaking, have a lot in common, but this weekend’s thrilling wins by these two New York-based horses brought to mind that cold day in Ozone Park two years ago, when they similarly thrilled race fans at the start of their careers.