Homeracing Louisiana Derby round three between Mo Tom, Gun Runner

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

March 21st, 2016

A rubber match between Mo Tom and Gun Runner will take place Saturday in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2), a 1 1/8-mile classic prep that highlights a marathon 15-race card on the penultimate day of Fair Grounds' 2015-16 meet.

The pair, who are the respective 5-2 and 3-1 morning line choices, first met in November at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). Contested on a sloppy track, Mo Tom made a long rally up the inside to claim third, 1 1/2 length ahead of Gun Runner.

The latter passed on the January 16 Lecomte (G3), won by Mo Tom by a margin of 2 1/4 lengths, but returned for his three-year-old debut in the February 26 Risen Star (G2). While both raced on the favorable inside part of the track, Gun Runner was more than 10 lengths ahead of Mo Tom in the early stages. Easily getting the jump on that rival, Gun Runner was still well ahead when Mo Tom's bid was hampered at the three-sixteenths pole and held on for the one-length victory. Mo Tom was 1 1/2 lengths behind in third.

Gun Runner again figures to be forwardly placed while Mo Tom will do his best running at the very end. The extra distance of the Louisiana Derby is sure to help Mo Tom, but Gun Runner doesn't figure to tire with additional ground as the son of Candy Ride is out of half-sister to Horse of the Year Saint Liam.

Forevamo, who split the pair in the Risen Star at odds of 40-1, also saved ground on the best part of the track that day and will need to show that performance was no fluke while breaking from post 11. Another arguably aided by the track that day was pace setter Candy My Boy, who held on for fourth at 34-1.

Tom's Ready and Uncle Walter, second and third, respectively, to Mo Tom in the Lecomte, both raced wide in the Risen Star and were off the board. On a less-biased strip, they're capable of rebounding with better efforts.

Champagne (G1) winner Greenpointcrusader, escaping the long shadow of Mohaymen in Florida, is another who might find the added distance agreeable. The Bernardini colt was most recently second to Mohaymen in the January 30 Holy Bull (G2), where he found himself much closer to the pace than usual. More of a mid-pack stalking type, Greenpointcrusader still has a lot of upside.

Another son of Bernardini in the field is Battery, a Todd Pletcher-trained colt exiting a two-length, first-level allowance win at Gulfstream. Also stepping up from the overnight ranks is Dazzling Gem, who has won both of his starts this season at Oaklawn for Brad Cox. The field is rounded out by Conquest Windycity and Zapperini.

The Louisiana Derby will offer Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers.

(Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)