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Close Hatches Best in Mother Goose Stakes

Close Hatches she rolled to an easy 7 ¼-length victory over prohibitive favorite Dreaming of Julia in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose at Belmont Park.

With Joel Rosario in the irons, the daughter of First Defence won under mild encouragement, with Dreaming of Julia coming on to edge Marathon Lady by a half-length for place.

“It was easy and I think it was only a one-horse race turning for home,” said Rosario of Close Hatches. “She ran very good. She ran good last time [second in the Grade 1 Acorn], but in this race she ran better. That day [when seventh in the Kentucky Oaks] she never showed up, but after that when she came back here, she ran second, and today even better.”

Close Hatches

Close Hatches

Owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Close Hatches extended her record to 4-1-0 from six starts, including a victory in the Grade 2 Gazelle at Aqueduct Racetrack prior to the Oaks.

“She was doing very well – she only ran 3 ½ weeks ago [in the Acorn] but she came out of it extremely well,” said Mott. “She looked good, her color was good, [and] I think she actually put on a little weight since then. It’s one of those things that’s hard to explain, why all of a sudden they start to really round into form. She was good before, but she really went into this one very nicely.”

Sent off as the 4-1 second choice, Close Hatches returned $10.60 for a $2 win bet and earned $180,000, extending her career winnings to $451,300.

Dreaming of Julia, who was sent off at 1-5 in her first start since finishing fourth as the favorite in an eventful Kentucky Oaks, had less than an ideal trip, said Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

“She wasn’t comfortable between horses, and I think she got shy from the time before when she got squeezed in the Oaks,” said Velazquez. “Now she’s between horses and getting shy in there. It’s hard for her to get in there, and she didn’t want to take it at all. That was it.”

The next start for Close Hatches could be the Grade 1, $300,000 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks on July 20 at Saratoga Race Course.

“Now, she’s got the Grade 1,” said Mott. “There’s no gun at our head to do anything. We’ll wait until she’s ready again. Right now, we’ll try to keep her with her own age group, I suppose. [The Coaching Club American Oaks] is something to consider. If she’s doing as well as she was going into today, we’ll have to give it strong consideration.”

NYRA photo