Mo Tom hoping to silence critics with Risen Star win

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TwinSpires Staff

February 18th, 2016

Edited Press Release

G M B Racing’s Mo Tom has a full plate on Saturday afternoon.

The Fair Grounds -based charge of trainer Tom Amoss will attempt to refute his detractors, exact some revenge on a previous conqueror and do his part to keep the winner’s circle celebration local when the New Orleans-owned and -trained son of Uncle Mo takes to the track for the $400,000 Risen Star (G2).

A driving winner last out in the Lecomte (G3) on January 16, the $150,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase will look to do what Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s International Star did in 2015 – sweep the first two of the local Kentucky Derby (G1) prep series.

International Star would go on to win the Louisiana Derby (G2) five weeks later – a race that is, especially with his connections, the first major goal in Mo Tom’s sophomore agenda.

“I think the most interesting thing about what we’ve seen with ’Tom over the last few weeks is that he looks like he’s finally filling out,” Amoss said. “That’s exciting because he’s a May foal and we were hoping for that development. It looks like we’re starting to see it.”

Owned by Gayle Benson, wife of New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, Mo Tom is on a calculated campaign that appears to be three-fold: win the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 26 for his locally iconic owners, prepare him for a tilt at the $2 million Kentucky Derby (G1) and give him enough bottom to overcome being a late foal who has shown – even in his victories – a degree of immaturity.

In addition, Mo Tom has to face the Mark Casse-trained Risen Star morning-line favorite Airoforce, who beat him into third two starts back at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) – a race in which Mo Tom did not have the most ideal trip.

Mo Tom is out of the Rubiano mare Caroni, making him a half-brother to multiple Grade 1-placed stakes winner Beautician, who just missed when second by three parts of a length in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and rallied for fourth in the next year’s Kentucky Oaks (G1). Many skeptics have brought to mind that the immediate presence of champion Uncle Mo, who raced only eight times and lost in both of his attempts beyond 1 1/16 miles, as well as champion sprinter Rubiano may limit Mo Tom’s stamina ceiling.

“I disagree with (pedigree-based detractors),” Amoss said. “When I bought him I was paying a lot of attention to horses I thought could get a distance and I feel very comfortable that he can. I say that after a lot of years of having horses I was very skeptical of them doing that, so I’m very comfortable with the whole thing.”

Needless to say, there is a chance that by Saturday evening, reports of Mo Tom’s endurance shortcomings may be slightly exaggerated under regular rider Corey Lanerie.

Among those Mo Tom will face on Saturday in the Risen Star is another son of Uncle Mo.

Uncle Walter will carry the Ramsey’s colors for trainer Mike Maker as he seeks his first stakes victory in just his second start. The bay made his black-type debut in the Lecomte and, after an ideal trip from the two-hole under Miguel Mena, he put in a smart bid at the top of the stretch. However, Uncle Walter could not hold off the more-seasoned duo of Mo Tom and Tom’s Ready in his sophomore debut.

“He’s training great,” Maker said. “I'm happy with him. His last race was his first start at two turns and was against graded stakes horses who had an experience edge over him. I expect improvement this time.

“The post is one thing I’m not too pleased about,” the horseman continued. “However the race shapes up, he should be OK. The jockey will have to make those kinds of decisions once the gates open.”

Jockey Javier Castellano, aboard for Uncle Walter’s head second at Churchill Downs in his juvenile finale, picks up the mount.

Zapperini just broke his maiden at Fair Grounds on January 21 in his second try and will be looking to prove himself against stakes rival in Saturday’s Risen Star.

He overcame a wide trip and a few bump exchanges to collar and overpower well-regarded Virtual Machine in his initial win while sprinting away from third-place finisher and next-out winner Call the Colonel. What may have been most appealing about his performance was his gallop-out.

“He really finished up good that day,” trainer Greg Foley said. “His gallop-out was great and he can run all day and doesn’t seem to get tired. I’ve always liked the horse and he should have won his first race.

“He’s coming in great and that’s a big part of running here,” Foley continued. “He has raced two times and he’s a sound horse – knock on wood. My (owners) wanted to take a shot, so as long as he’s doing well, I said let’s do it. He’s a nice horse and I hope he runs well. We’ll see how good he is.”

While some Risen Star contenders may have stamina questions circling above their pedigrees, there are no such questions for Zapperini. With extensive European classic blood in his veins, he shares the same female family as two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1) winner Treve through Trevilla – Zapperini’s fourth dam and Treve’s third.

Stakes debuter Candy My Boy has the unenviable position of being both a figurative and literal outsider in Saturday’s Risen Star. The Candy Ride colt drew post 13 – moved to 12 after the scratch of Laoban – and will be stepping up in class after a pair of victories over the local surface.

“Everything’s good with him,” trainer Roger Brueggemann remarked. “A couple more days to sweat it out, obviously, but he’s good.

“I don’t like the post, but there isn’t much I can do about it,” Brueggemann shrugged. “I know he likes to run on or near the lead, but he doesn’t have to have the lead. We’ll just have to see what happens. He’s doing better all he time and starting to mature. His actual training is getting much better.  Before you couldn’t get him to work very fast at all, but now he’s starting to get the hang of it.”

Candy My Boy has improved in BRIS Speed figures and performance while concurrently ascending in class in his previous four starts. Last out, in a one-mile allowance/optional claimer, he outran his 10-1 odds to wire a field of seven, including fellow Risen Star competitor Forevamo. One race prior, he wired a mile and 70-yard maiden special weight at the New Orleans oval at odds of 16-1 on New Year’s Eve.

In his four starts since being turned over to Brueggemann, who is currently striking at 27% on the meet, Candy My Boy has not finished out of the exacta.

Shaun Bridgmohan rides and will be the fourth different pilot in as many starts for the bay colt.

Mo Tom photo courtesy of Amanda Hodges Weir/Hodges Photography

3 Million Points Rolling P4 Bonus on Risen Star Day: The second stepping stone to the Twinspires Louisiana Derby takes place Saturday with the running of the $400K Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.

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