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What you need to know for 01/16/2017

Saratoga notes: Mott encouraged by Royal Delta's workouts

Saratoga notes: Mott encouraged by Royal Delta's workouts

Maybe Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott should nickname Royal Delta “Gunslinger.” All the two-time cham

Maybe Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott should nickname Royal Delta “Gunslinger.” All the two-time champion mare keeps doing is firing bullets.

Partially shrouded by fog, Royal Delta sailed through a half-mile work in 48.30 seconds over the Oklahoma training track on Monday. It was the third-quickest workout at the distance on Monday.

A five-time Grade 1 winner and earner of more than $4.2 million, Royal Delta had fired five consec­utive bullet works, three of them at Belmont Park and the last two at Saratoga.

“She was doing pretty darn good at Belmont,” Mott said. “Is she doing better? She was doing great then. She’s [still] doing very well.”

Royal Delta had lost back-to-back starts for only the second time in her 19-race career before bouncing back with a 10 3⁄4-length romp in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap on July 20. She is being pointed to the Grade I Personal Ensign on Sunday.

“I’ll tell you what I like about her here,” Mott said. “We schooled her in the paddock [Sunday], and she seemed pretty cool about it. She’s an Empire Maker, and she can get a little keyed up when you start changing her routine around a little bit. But she handled it real well.”

Willet pulls away

Willet, ridden by Joel Rosario, took the lead at the three-sixteenths pole and scored a two-length victory in the $100,000 Union Avenue Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares.

The 5-year-old Willet ran six furlongs over a fast main track in 1:11.36, and paid $4.80, $2.80 and 2.40. Runner-up Clear Pasaj returned $3.40 and $2.60. Beautiful But Blue, third of six, paid $3.50 to show.

“I tried to save ground a little bit at the beginning,” said Rosario. “After that, it was easy for her. It looked like there were one or two horses with speed. I thought I’d be laying third, but they went a little bit quicker than I thought. My horse has natural speed, so she can put me in the right spot.”

Willet earned $60,000 for owners Charlotte Assoulin and James Iselin, who is also her trainer.

“This race is for all the small little trainers at Aqueduct,” said Iselin. “Never, ever give up. There’s always a chance, right?”

Done for the year

Fiftyshadesofgold, who was interfered with along the rail in the stretch of the Aug. 11 Adirondack by Who’s in Town, has a fractured left shin and a chip in her right knee, and will be out for the rest of the year, according to trainer Bret Calhoun.

Calhoun said doctors told him that Fiftyshadesofgold should make a complete recovery from both issues.

Fiftyshadesofgold, who won her first two starts, including the $100,000 Debutante Stakes by eight lengths at Churchill Downs, arrived at the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital on Monday and is scheduled to undergo surgery today, Calhoun said.

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