William I. Mott
William I. "Bill" Mott (born July 29, 1953, in Mobridge, South Dakota) is an American horse trainer, most notable for his work with Cigar. Mott earned the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in 1995 and 1996. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1998 at the age of 45, becoming the second-youngest trainer ever inducted, after D.M. "Mikey" Smithwick (at 42 in 1971). Mott started training thoroughbreds at age 15 and won the South Dakota Futurity with Kosmic Tour before he was out of high school. He worked his way up the ranks by becoming first an exercise rider, then an assistant trainer for Hall of Fame Trainer Jack Van Berg. In 1976, Mott, trainer Frank Brothers (who was also Van Berg's assistant trainer), and a stable crew guided Van Berg's horses through the wins at Sportsman's, Hawthorne and Arlington Park race tracks in Chicago. They were so successful that Van Berg was named leading trainer at Arlington Park and leading trainer in the Nation with 496 wins in 1976, a record that stood until Steve Asmussen broke it in 2003 with 555 wins. Asmussen broke his own record in 2008 and 2009. Mott worked as an assistant trainer for Van Berg for three years before striking out on his own in 1978.
On the July 28, 2007, ABC Sports broadcast of the Diana Handicap, Hall of Fame jockey and race commentator Jerry Bailey said Mott is generally regarded as the best trainer for racing on turf in the United States.
From 1992 through 2007, Mott won 9 training titles at Saratoga Race Course. He won the 2007 Saratoga Trainer's Title with 27 wins, marking his first return to that title at the "Spa" since 2001. He's also won 10 titles at Belmont Park and 9 at Gulfstream Park.
Cigar was owned by Allen E. Paulson and did not race as a two-year old. Under trainer Alex Hassinger, he made an unsuccessful debut in early 1993 in a six furlong (1,207 m) race on a dirt track in California. After he broke his maiden a few months later, his trainer switched him to racing on grass, but the horse proved mediocre at best. The following year, his owner shipped Cigar to East Coast trainer Bill Mott, who gave him the first half of the year off, bringing him back to racing in July. After more disappointing results, it was decided to give Cigar one more try racing on dirt. In his first attempt, at Aqueduct Racetrack, he won easily.
For the following year's racing season, Cigar proved to be the best horse in North America, winning all ten major races he entered under jockey Jerry Bailey, including the Pimlico Special. Cigar capped off the year with an October victory in the $3 million U.S. Breeders' Cup Classic while setting a stakes record of 1:59.58 for the 1 1⁄4 miles (2,000 m) distance. That year, Cigar was voted 1995 Champion Older Male and received the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.
In 1996, the team of Cigar, Paulson, Mott, and Bailey won the Big Sport of Turfdom Award.
Cigar continued his winning ways that year, including traveling more than 6,000 miles (9,700 km) to earn a victory in the inaugural Dubai World Cup in Dubai, United Arab Emirates with a purse of $5 million. During the season, Cigar matched the decades-old accomplishment of Triple Crown champion Citation by winning his 16th race in a row in the Arlington Citation Challenge. Cigar failed in his bid to break the record when he lost to Dare and Go in the Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar Racetrack.