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Triple Crown Contender Profile – Mo Tom

Mo Tom didn't win the Risen Star Stakes (G2) on February 20 or the Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 26 but he did earn a world of respect after very troubled trips.

Watch the Risen Star Stakes

Mo Tom experienced some drama in the January 15 LeComte Stakes as well but got the money with a heady ride by jockey Corey Lanarie. The veteran Midwest reignsman patiently bided his time in the three path around the final turn while Tom's Ready, who had moved first under Shaun Bridgmohan, was strung out six wide. Once straightened for home Lanarie said 'go' and swung Mo Tom to the far outside where he had clear sailing to surge past Tom's Ready for the 2 1/4-length score.

Lanerie's ride in the Louisiana Derby drew wide and loud (and deserved) rancor from racing observers, including Lanerie himself.

“It was a bad ride and totally my fault," said Lanerie after the race. "He came underneath me and I had more horse than I knew what to do with and I got him in trouble and went inside when I shouldn’t have. I doubt they’ll let me sit on him again. He’s a great horse.”

Louisiana Derby video:

Trainer Tom Amoss was understandably furious after the incident but after cooling down has decided to stick with Lanerie for Mo Tom's next start. With 32 points towards a berth in the Kentucky Derby already accumulated, that next start is still likely to be in the big one under the Twin Spires on the first Saturday in May.

Mo Tom enjoyed a good juvenile season with a win in the listed Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs, also at the expense of Tom's Ready. Fourth in the Street Sense was Discreetness, who has since reeled off a pair of stakes victories, including a score in the January 18 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Mo Tom closed out his two-year-old term with third in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on November 28. That day he finished behind Airoforce and subsequent Grade 1 winner Mor Spirit, but ahead of his Risen Star/Louisiana Derby conquerer Gun Runner.

No Kentucky Derby champion has won the LeComte but a pair of winners have later worn the Black-Eyed Susans at the Preakness - Oxbow in 2013 and Linkage in 1982. Super Saver (2010) is the last Derby winner to have raced at Churchill at two and he's the third Derby hero this century to take juvenile spin under the Twin Spires, along with Street Sense (2007) and Monarchos (2001).

Mo Tom is one of seven blacktype winners and four graded winners so far from the highly successful first crop sired by Uncle Mo, the galloping winner of the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. Uncle Mo is a son of Indian Charlie, the speedy 1998 Santa Anita Derby winner who finished third in that's years Derby after being bum rushed by Real Quiet and Victory Gallop.

It remains to be seen if the Uncle Mo runners will prove to be anything other than precocious. Although his dam, the winless Caroni, is inbred to the last English Triple Crown winner, Nijinsky II, Mo Tom's pedigree is also slanted more toward early-developing speed. His damsire is 1992 Eclipse Champion Sprinter Rubiano and he's brother to a pair of stakes winners, one at a mile another at six furlongs. The six furlong stakes winner, Beautician, was three-time graded-placed at two, including a runner-up finish in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

The questions about Mo Tom's true talent and distance capabilities weren't definitively answered in his last two races due to circumstances. Bettors still on the Mo Tom bandwagon should demand exceptional odds to find out what kind of horse he really is in a 20-horse Derby stampede.

 

Factoring Pedigree – Archarcharch

We've seen a good amount of both quantity and quality so far from the first juveniles by Archarcharch. The Spendthrift Farm stallion is the sire of 39 starters and 10 winners as of October 16, both figures ranking fifth among North American first crop sires.

Archarcharch is a son of (just) Arch, a son of Kris S. and a grandson of Roberto. His sire-line is more known for distance and turf but Archarcharch was a sprint stakes winner at two and raced exclusively on dirt. He won the 6F Sugar Bowl Stakes in mid-December of his juvenile season and then competed in the Oaklawn Park spring classics prep series culminating in an upset victory (at 25-1) of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. An injury sustained during his 15th-place finish in Animal Kingdom's Kentucky Derby sent him to Spendthrift Farm for stud duty beginning in 2012.

Archarcharch broke his maiden in that Sugar Bowl win so it's only fitting that his first stakes winner, Toews on Ice, won his first race in the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile Stakes (by 7 1/2 lengths). It's true that Allowance races for juveniles can be lacking but the fact that five other Archarcharch winners have competed in stakes so far is a likely indication of their quality (at least in the eyes of their connections). The maiden Next Shares has also earned some blacktype with a runner-up effort in the Grade 2 With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga and Maiden Special winner Go No Go ran second by a neck in Oklahoma Classic Lassie Stakes on October 16 at Remington Park.

Most of the Archarcharch winners have rewarded bettors more handsomely. Only one his winners has gone favored and they've paid off at an average rate of 7-1.

Archarcharch has sired three turf winners and his progeny can be expected to do just fine on that surface despite the fact that their sire never touched the stuff. Along with his own turf-leaning sire-line he's out of a daughter of Irish juvenile champion Woodman (by Mr. Prospector) and his second dam is a daughter of the prolific turf sire Nureyev.

Here's a breakdown of the first 10 winners by Archarcharch:

Date Horse #Start/Race Class Won Margin Trainer Odds Track Distance/Footing Track Condition
 10/4 Joan of Arch  4th/Maiden Claiming 30k  3 1/4L M. Pearson  3.90 Santa Anita 8F, Dirt Fast
 9/23 Tia Chuy 3rd/Maiden Special  3L M. Castenada .80* Mountaineer 4.5F/Dirt Good
 9/20 Toews On Ice 3rd/Stake 7 1/2L B. Baffert 9.70 Los Al 6.5F/Dirt Fast
 9/18 Go No Go 1st/Maiden Special 2 1/2L B. Calhoun 4.80 Remington 5F/Dirt Fast
9/7 Theory of Change 1st/Maiden Special Head C. Brown 7.20 Saratoga 8.5F/Turf Firm
8/20 Archarella 3rd/Maiden Special  2L A. Pecoraro 5.70 Delaware Park 7.5F/Turf Firm
8/12 Arcature  1st/Maiden Special  1/2L S. Callaghan  5.10 Del Mar 8F/Turf Firm
7/25 Gran Magnific NA/Maiden Claiming NA NA NA Mexico NA NA
6/25 Whataclassylady 1st/Maiden Special 1L R. Morse 14.20 Churchill 4.5F/Dirt Fast
4/23 Tia Flor 2nd/Maiden Special 9 1/4L M. Castenada 11.40 Keeneland 4.5F/Dirt Fast

* race favorite

Factoring Pedigree – Lonhro

Sons and daughters of the stallion Lonhro have been popping up (and winning) juvenile races all over North America and Europe. But just who is this Lonhro character?

Nicknamed 'The Black Flash', Lonhro was a star on the Australian turf so Northern Hemisphere bettors and racing fans can be forgiven for being in the dark about this son of Octagonal. He was a Group 3 winner at two, a champion at three and Horse of the Year at five. His credentials earned him a plaque in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2014.

He's carried that success over to the breeding shed, earning a sire championship Down Under as well. The now 17-year-old was imported to Darley America for the 2012 and 2013 Northern Hemisphere breeding seasons and we're now seeing the resulting juveniles from that first term.

Lonhro's initial Northern Hemisphere-bred winner appeared back on March 28 when Rah Rah notched a debut victory in a 5F Maiden race Kempton's all-weather course in the UK. After three more European winners, Holding Gold became the first Lonhro juvenile winner in North America when he emerged from the Mark Casse barn to capture his July 19 debut at Woodbine. So far a total of 11 Lonhro two-year-olds have found the winner's enclosure north of the equator.

Australian racing is conducted exclusively on turf so it's no surprise that only one of these first 11 Lonhro winners has scored on dirt (that being Ponytail, winner of her second start at Parx for trainer Michael Matz).

Lonhro does have some American influences in his pedigree - his dam is granddaughter of Mr. Prospector - but bettors shouldn't expect many main track winners from this sire. Lonhro was more adept at middle distances too, so the turf marathons his progeny will face later on could prove to be beyond their scope. For the time being though, the Lonhro's should be respected early in their careers whenever they break from the gate on grass and all-weather surfaces.

A full breakdown of Lonhro's first 11 winners:

Date Horse #Start/Race Class Won Margin Trainer Odds Track Distance/Footing Track Condition
9/20 Koala Queen  Debut/Maiden Special  Head A. Delacour 4.50 Laurel 5.5F/Tur Firm
9/19  Shakhimat Debut/Maiden Special  2 1/4 L  R. Attfield 4.20 Woodbine 7F/AW Fast
8/30 Ponytail  2nd/Maiden Special  5 1/2 L  M. Matz  3.20 Parx 5.5F/Dirt Fast
8/22 Isotherm 2nd/Maiden Special Neck G. Weaver  4.00 Saratoga 8.5F/Turf Firm
8/8 Apple Down Under  Debut/Maiden Special 3/4 L M. Hubley 3.80* Ellis Park 5.5F/Turf Firm
7/24 Blackflashgoddess 3rd/Maiden Special 2 1/4 L W. Bradley 1.90 Ellis Park 5.5F/Turf Firm
7/19 Holding Gold  Debut/Maiden Special  2 1/4 L M. Casse 4.25 Woodbine 5F/AW Fast
6/27 Plagiarism Debut/Maiden in England 1/2 L  M. Johnston  5.00 Newcastle 5F/Turf Good
6/12 Aquamerica  Debut/Maiden in France  3 1/2 L C. Ferland  4.80  Toulouse 7F/Turf Soft
6/3 Lockram 2nd/Maiden in England  2 3/4 Lnew M. Johnston  2.00*  Wolverhampton 6F/AW Fast
3/28 Rah Rah (GB) Debut/ Maiden in England  3 3/4 L M. Johnston  4.00  Kempton 5F/AW Fast

*race favorite