With the 2016 Triple Crown races being won by three different colts, the Eclipse Award for the outstanding 3-year-old male is inconclusive at the mid-point of the year. A clearer picture will emerge from the summer and fall stakes races.
While the attention is on Nyquist, Exaggerator, and Creator, the possibility that another stealth contender is developing: Mo Tom. This colt has a record of four firsts and three thirds from nine starts, with his only stakes win coming in the Grade 3 Lecomte in January 2016.
However, the record is deceiving, to say the least. In the three starts before he easily won the Ohio Derby on June 25, 2016, the colt had plenty of racing trouble. Most notably, he was blocked in the Louisiana Derby and was impeded in the Kentucky Derby in which he finished eighth. Trainer Tom Amoss switched jockeys for the Ohio Derby, to the outstanding Javier Castellano, who gave Mo Tom an incident-free come-from-behind win.
His connections now have an assortment of races to choose from, such as the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park or the Jim Dandy at Saratoga. If they want to take a less challenging route, the colt could go in either the Indiana Derby or the far more lucrative West Virginia Derby.
Any of these races would set Mo Tom up for the Travers in late August at Saratoga. If he performs well, the Breeders’ Cup Classic would be the ultimate goal.
Making predictions about racehorses is risky business. Yet, without going out on a perilous limb and predicting that Mo Tom will be 3-year-old male of the year, it is safe to say that he is a sleeper that could be a real factor with Castellano in the irons in the Travers and/or Breeders’ Cup Classic. His past performances are much better than they look when the troubled trips and poor rides are taken into account. Additionally, Mo Tom is bred for speed and distance, being by Uncle Mo and out of the Rubiano mare Caroni.
Mo Tom is the property of GMB Racing out of New Orleans, which is owned by Gayle Benson. Her husband, soon to be 89-year-old Thomas Benson, owns both the NFL New Orleans Saints and the NBA New Orleans Pelicans. It was to some degree ironic that the Bensons were greeted in the winner’s circle after the Ohio Derby by a contingent that included four of the cheerleaders from the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that won the NBA title only six nights earlier.
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