Mo Tom overhauled Tom’s Ready in deep stretch and keyed a 1-2 finish for Tom and Gayle Benson’s GMB Racing in Saturday’s $200,000 TwinSpires.com Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds, winning the Kentucky Derby qualifying race by 2 1/4 lengths under Corey Lanerie.
Trained by Tom Amoss, Mo Tom increased his point total to 12 after picking up two points previously for a fast-closing third in the November 28 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs. He flattered the top two from the Kentucky Jockey Club, Airoforce and Mor Spirit.
Runner-up Tom’s Ready, who also finished second to Mo Tom in the November 1 Street Sense at Churchill Downs, shares common ownership but is trained by Dallas Stewart.
Z Royal accelerated to show the way after the break, with Mo Tom dropping back to last of nine 3-year-olds entering the first turn at the New Orleans track. The pacesetter established opening splits of :23.64, :47.30 and 1:12.47 on a short lead.
Mo Tom launched his rally from the back of the field entering the far turn, advancing along the inside before altering course to the far outside in upper stretch. Z Royal was still clinging to a short lead after turning for home but soon gave way to Tom’s Ready and Uncle Walter.
Tom’s Ready led by a length with less than a sixteenth of a mile remaining, but Mo Tom rallied boldly to win going away down the middle of the track. He completed a mile and 70 yards in 1:43.18 on the fast track.
Off as 2-1 favorite, Mo Tom returned a $6.40 win mutual. Tom’s Ready finished second as the 5-1 fourth choice, three-quarters of a length better than the 5-2 Uncle Walter in third.
It was another two lengths back to Destin in fourth, and Z Royal, Pinnacle Peak, Fish Trappe Road, Mending Fences and Tarpon Bay Road completed the order of finish. Dolphus reared at the starting gate and wound up being a late scratch. Battle Tap, Indygo Breeze, Noble Thought, Riding in the Wind and Tiznoble were all early withdrawals.
Mo Tom has never finished out of the money in five career starts, opening his racing career with a victory in a September 5 maiden special weight at Ellis Park. He followed with a third in an October 8 allowance at Keeneland before capturing his stakes debut, the aforementioned Street Sense at a one-turn mile.
With Saturday’s $120,000 payday, Mo Tom has now earned $211,526.
Bred in Kentucky by Hargus & Sandra Sexton & Silver Fern Farm, Mo Tom is by Uncle Mo, the leading freshman sire of 2015. The dark bay colt hails from the Rubiano mare Caroni, making him a half-brother to stakes winner and 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) runner-up Beautician; and stakes queen Bella Castani. Caroni counts multiple Grade 2 victor Kashatreya as a half-brother.
Mo Tom was purchased for $150,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Corey Lanerie (jockey, Mo Tom, winner): “It was good, he broke really good and got pinched a little bit going into the first turn. We got knocked a little off stride there but he gathered himself up really good. Down the backside I was pretty confident, especially when I called on him to get in a little bit better position. On the middle of the turn I was going to try to maybe weave my way through but I had so much horse I said, ‘let me just put him in the clear.’”
Tom Amoss (trainer, Mo Tom, winner): “Great way to start his 3-year-old season. Today’s race was a mile and 70 (yards), I’m sure Corey (Lanerie) would agree, when the distance gets further, the better our horse is going to get so we’re really excited about that. I have to say Gayle Benson has been great, she’s a great owner and she gets a big assist from her partner Tom Benson. We’re really pleased, they’re both New Orleans natives – we’re really happy.”
Shaun Bridgmohan (jockey, Tom’s Ready, 2nd): “It was my first time on him and I wish I had known him a little bit better. He has a good turn of foot; good acceleration. He flattened out a little at the end, but he had made a big move.”
Miguel Mena (jockey, Uncle Walter, 3rd): “I had a great trip and a nice horse. He’s a little bit on the green side and I think there’s a lot more in there and we haven’t seen his best yet. He ran hard, I just think we got beat by horses who have more racing. He’ll be tough to beat next time.”
Julien Leparoux (jockey, Destin, 4th): “He’s still learning a little bit and green, but he came running at the end and finished strong.”
Photo courtesy of Fair Grounds/Amanda Weir Hodges/Hodges Photography