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Williamsport grad has Kentucky Derby vision

Kaetzel helped in training of Court Vision

Kaetzel helped in training of Court Vision

May 05, 2008|By LARRY YANOS

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Williamsport High School graduate Michael Kaetzel has more than a rooting interest in today's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Kaetzel, 28, is an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who will saddle Court Vision in the Run for the Roses.

One of Kaetzel's responsibilities was working with a string of Mott's horses in Florida earlier this year, including the talented 3-year-old Derby entrant.

Kaetzel said Court Vision has a good shot in the Triple Crown Series opener.

"He is a contender, not a pretender," he said.

"He's a nice race horse," Kaetzel said. "He closed up good the last time out (a third-place finish in the Grade I Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Race Course) and that's what you want to see. You need a closer in the Derby. A clean trip and he could be right there."

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Having jockey Garrett Gomez in the saddle won't hurt, either.

Court Vision has been to the starting gate six times in his young racing career and has three wins, a second-place finish and two third-place finishes. He has $331,872 in graded earnings.

As a youngster, Kaetzel played baseball at Conococheague Little League, but turned his attention in high school from athletics to helping his parents, Dorothy and William, with horses stabled at Charles Town (W.Va.) Races & Slots.

"Mom and Dad had horses for quite a while over there, and since I was 5, I went to the track and tried to help them in the barn area in any way possible," Kaetzel said. "I later worked as a groom and a hot walker until I graduated from high school, then got a trainer's license in 1999 and trained alongside my dad."

Two years later, Kaetzel went to work for trainer Amy Albright and gained some valuable racing experience before joining Mott in 2004.

"Amy was running horses at Charles Town at the time," Kaetzel said of the 2001 experience. "She had a farm in Pennsylvania and hired me as a groom. A friend of mine, Will Phipps from Charles Town, came to me in 2004 and said that Mr. Mott was looking for a foreman. I jumped at the opportunity, was granted an interview and got the job. I was surprised, yet very happy."

Kaetzel's first position with the Mott stable was in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in July 2004. Since being named an assistant last year, Kaetzel said he's "more involved with the training part of things."

"My basic work schedule now has me in Florida the first four months of the year and at Saratoga from April through December," Kaetzel said. "Mr. Mott usually has 50 to 55 horses at Saratoga and 35 more at Belmont Park. He winters in Florida. The majority of horses, maybe 75, are at Payson Park, and 30 more at Gulfstream Park."

Kaetzel said he has a lot of respect for Mott.

"He's very hands-on, always around the barn and does a great job. He's the best horsemen I've ever been around," Kaetzel said. "Working for him is a great learning experience. Maybe one day I'll go out on my own, but it won't be in the near future. I'm happy with what I'm doing right now. Seeing the babies develop and getting them going is fun."

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