Mo Town Has New Home On Grass, Rallies To Win Hollywood Derby

Once considered a promising candidate for the Kentucky Derby, Mo Town rallied relentlessly in the stretch to win his first stakes as a 3-year-old in the Grade 1, $300,000 Hollywood Derby on the Jimmy Durante turf course at Del Mar on Saturday. Under John Velazquez, the colt by Uncle Mo out of Grazie Mille, by Bernardini, rallied wide into the stretch, wore down 7-5 favorite Sharp Samurai, then held sway by a length over Channel Maker, Big Score and Sharp Samurai, who were in a three-way finish for second, finishing in that order.

Time for the mile and one-eighth on firm turf was 1:46.36. Mo Town was the second betting choice at 2-1.

Trained by Tony Dutrow, Mo Town originally raced for Dutrow’s Team D, which purchased the colt from breeder John Gunther for $200,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. After winning his second start impressively by seven lengths at Belmont Park last September, Coolmore associates Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier bought into Mo Town, who promptly won the G2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 26.

Mo Town had two poor efforts in the spring that derailed his Triple Crown hopes, finishing fifth in the G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds and seventh in the G2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. He came back in August at Saratoga, finishing fourth in a sprint, then was third in a mile contest at Belmont in September. It wasn’t until Dutrow put Mo Town on turf that the colt produced his third win, drawing off in allowance/optional claiming company to win by  6 1/2 lengths at Belmont on Oct. 12.

In the Hollywood Derby, Mo Town broke a step slowly and Velazquez allowed him to race near the back of the pack as Ritzy A.P. set fractions of :23.34, :47.67 and 1:11.19 for the opening six furlongs. Souper Tapit engaged the leader down the backstretch and those two were joined by Sharp Samurai and Gary Stevens entering the far turn. Sharp Samurai kicked clear in search of his fifth straight stakes win, but after a mile in 1:34.57 he was joined by Channel Maker to the inside and Big Score to the outside.

Velazquez moved Mo Town past horses rounding the turn, then swung wide into the stretch. The colt  had more than enough to run down the leading trio and draw off late for the win.

“So I got to try something different with this horse today,” said Velazquez, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday with a win in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs aboard Seeking the Soul. “I’ve been trying to get him to settle. He broke slow, so I didn’t panic with him. I let him settle and run right along. Then when I asked him he responded. He responded very well.”

“My first trip to Del Mar and the people out here are so nice I can’t wait to get back some day,” said Dutrow. “It was a Grade I race and our horse had a chance and I just felt like we had to be here. The race itself? I don’t know how this turf course plays, but I knew at the top of the stretch Mo Town had a lot of work to do and I’m glad he was up to it.”

Though Mo Town is now 2-for-2 on turf, Dutrow said he is contemplating a return to dirt for the Uncle Mo as a 4-year-old in 2018.

The post Mo Town Has New Home On Grass, Rallies To Win Hollywood Derby appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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