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Devious Mo Doesn’t Drop the Ball in NYSSS Times Square
Credit: NYRA / Chelsea Durand

Devious Mo Doesn’t Drop the Ball in NYSSS Times Square

OZONE PARK, NY – It took Repole Stable’s Devious Mo 7 starts to break his maiden, which he accomplished with an 8 3/4-length score last month at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The Laoban colt parlayed that effort into a second straight win, getting to the lead before the 1/2-mile mark and holding off 8/5 favorite Sinful Dancer’s charge in the final 1/16 of a mile to capture his stakes debut in Saturday’s $200,000 New York Stallion Stakes Series (NYSS) Times Square for 3-year-olds at the Big A.

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Devious Mo broke sharp from the innermost post under Manny Franco, who placed him forwardly in second position behind pacesetter Lobsta through an opening 1/4-mile in 22.52 seconds on the main track rated muddy.

Franco kept his position along the rail, overtaking Lobsta to lead the seven-horse field through a 1/2-mile in 45.87. Devious Mo maintained the inside position out of the turn and opened up on the field.

Sinful Dancer, under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, made a late bid from the outside in deep stretch to close the margin, but Franco kept his charge under encouragement to repel the comeback bid, completing the 6 1/2 furlongs in a final time of 1:17.10 for a victory by 3/4 of a length.

Devious Mo, bred in the Empire State by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, ran no better than fourth in each of his first 6 starts before breaking in a $25,000 maiden claimer 6-furlong sprint on March 13 over a fast track.

Claimed for $40,000 out of a fourth-place effort in November, trainer Rudy Rodriguez added blinkers for his seasonal debut in January, when fifth in a state-bred maiden special weight at Aqueduct.

On Saturday, Rodriguez elevated him stakes company for the first time, and Devious Mo responded by crafting a winning streak. Off at 11/1, Devious Mo returned $24.20 on a $2 win wager.

“We put blinkers on him (after the claim) and maybe the level, dropping him in for $25,000, helped his confidence a bit,” Rodriguez said. “He showed up. I thought we might lose him for $25,000, but thank God we didn’t.”

Rodriguez said he was initially concerned about the rail but was happy with both the trip and Repole’s decision to target the race.

“I was a little concerned about the rail. He broke alertly, maintained his position and held on. I thought we were going to get beat by the other horse (Sinful Dancer),” Rodriguez said. “We were thinking about running him in the starter allowance, but the stakes was coming up light. All credit to Mike because I wanted to run him in the starter. Mike is sharp and put him in the right spot. Great ride by Manny.”

Franco, who was aboard for both of Devious Mo’s wins, said his horse responded when prompted.

“I just kept him up there. By the 3/8 pole, I had to go because the hole was closing up, so I asked more of my horse,” Franco said. “When (Sinful Dancer) came to me, my horse was really trying. When I asked him, he was there for me. I felt like he was getting a little tired, but at the same time, he was giving me his all.”

The George Weaver-trained Sinful Dancer, who ran second in his debut on March 7 at Aqueduct, earned a placing for his second consecutive start, besting It’s Gravy by 5 1/4 lengths for runner-up.

“He was off the pace and there was a lot of speed in the race,” Castellano said. “I like the way he settled and cut the corner inside on the rail. We followed the winner, but I think we were just second-best today. This horse has only run two races. He’ll be a good horse in the future.”

Market Alert, Lobsta, Writer’s Regret, and Papa Smooth completed the order of finish.

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