Hard-luck graded stakes winner Mo Tom put in an impressive move at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, working a half-mile in 47 seconds flat in his second drill since finishing a troubled fourth in the Grade II Louisiana Derby on March 26.
Onlookers were impressed with the son of Uncle Mo, but trainer Tom Amoss said the outing was a little too quick for his liking. Under exercise rider Mario Garcia, Mo Tom clocked splits of :11.60, :23, :34.80 with a gallop-out in :58.80 and 1:12.40.
“It was a typical work for Mo Tom. He went a little quick early and that was simply rider error, but he came back nicely in the work and went around there very well,” Amoss said. “Mario is the only guy who works him in the morning and … he was a little anxious this morning. And ‘Tom’ can fool you because he has a big long stride and you cannot quite recognize you’re going that fast. But in his races, he switches off so easily.”
Since his win in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes to open his 3-year-old season on Jan. 16, Mo Tom has had two abysmal trips in the Grade II Risen Star and Louisiana Derby, finding trouble along the rail in the stretch in each outing.
Jockey Corey Lanerie took the blame for the Louisiana Derby outing. Amoss said he and owners GMB Racing are still deciding whether Lanerie will keep the mount in the Kentucky Derby.
“I know what I’ve got and I’ve seen what he can do finishing in any kind of work situation,” Amoss said. “I can say with confidence he’s the best 3-year-old I’ve ever trained. I’m hopeful everyone else gets to see that too.”
▪ While Mo Tom and Mohaymen were working the fast Churchill Downs surface for all it was worth, U.A.E Derby winner Lani had a particularly leisurely exercise in his first work since his win at Meydan Racecourse on March 26.
The son of Tapit was clocked going 5 furlongs in 1:06 but barely appeared to get out of a high gallop.
“Everything has gone according to plan, so I’m happy with that,” said Keita Tanaka, agent for owner Ms. Yoko Maeda. “We don’t do super-fast works around this time so everything is what I have planned. We’ll do something faster next week and three or four days before the Derby.”
Espinoza confirmed aboard Whitmore
Jockey Victor Espinoza, who has won the last two Kentucky Derbys including guiding 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, will ride Ron Moquett-trainee Whitmore in this year’s classic, co-owner Harry Rosenblum confirmed Wednesday.
Whitmore has two wins from six career starts and has hit the board in all three of the major Kentucky Derby prep races at Oaklawn Park. The gelded son of Pleasantly Perfect ran second in the Grade II Southwest and Grade II Rebel Stakes and was most recently third in the Grade I Arkansas Derby under Irad Ortiz Jr.