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.
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.