Mo Tom in Strong Breeze
By Dick Downey
Photo by Churchill Downs
Updated 10:36 a.m. ET
Today at Churchill Downs, Mo Tom breezed for the first time since he finished fourth in the Louisiana Derby after encountering traffic trouble in the stretch.
With exercise rider Mario Garcia up, track clockers caught Mo Tom going four furlongs in 48.40 with splits of 12.40, 24.20 and 36.20. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.40, six in 1:14.20 and seven in 1:27.40 for trainer Tom Amoss.
"We're really doing a lot more than a half-mile work with him. That's a typical work and a typical gallop-out for him," said Amoss.
Mo Tom won the one-mile Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 1 and finished third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. Shipped to Fair Grounds for the winter, he won the Lecomte Stakes and finished third in the Risen Star Stakes -- with traffic trouble in the stretch -- before the Louisiana Derby.
Now Amoss has his sights on the Kentucky Derby for the son of Uncle Mo.
"It's the best chance I've had in a race like this," Amoss said. "Today's work signaled that he's on his game."
A question is whether Mo Tom will make the Kentucky Derby field. He is 18th on the Derby points leaderboard. The Arkansas Derby on Saturday carries 170 points with 100 to the winner 40 for second place, 20 for third and 10 for fourth.
Rebel Stakes winner Cupid will probably be the favorite and has 50 points now, so Team Mo Tom wouldn't be unhappy to see Cupid run well, He's the only Arkansas Derby probable with more points than Mo Tom, and so if he finishes first or second, that would leave less room for others to move up.
Among other Arkansas Derby probables is Whitmore, second in both the Southwest and Rebel Stakes. With 24 points, he will leap past Mo Tom if he finishes fourth or better. Dazzling Gem, with 20 points, would rank ahead of Mo Tom with a placing of third or better.
Discreetness and Creator (10 points each), Unbridled Outlaw (two points) and any other horse that enters the Arkansas Derby starting gate will need to run second or better to pass Mo Tom on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
Entries close today for the Arkansas Derby, and post positions will be drawn this morning.
The issue about Mo Tom's jockey is still on the table. Amoss was upset with Corey Lanerie's ride in the Louisiana Derby, saying just after the race, "Watching this was like going to the schoolyard and watching your kid get beat up by another kid."
Amoss relented after a couple of days and said Lanerie's services wouldn't be discontinued, but the landscape has changed since then.
“We still have some moving parts here,” Amoss said. “Corey ran third in the Blue Grass with Cherry Wine, and he’s going down to Arkansas to ride [Unbridled Outlaw] in the Arkansas Derby. At this time we’re not doing anything. We aren’t putting our chips on the table yet, we’re going to see what happens after this weekend and talk to Corey and see what his feelings are about the horses he’s riding besides Mo Tom.”