DEL MAR, CA – Trainer Peter Miller’s Mo Forza made a monstrous return after seven months away, blowing away in the stretch to easily win Sunday’s $150,000 Del Mar Mile Handicap (G2) at Del Mar.
Breaking a half-step slow from post 4 as the 6/5 favorite under Flavien Prat, Mo Forza settled well off the pace heading into the clubhouse turn while racing without blinkers for the first time in his past 9 starts.
Dreams of Valor dueled inside of Kiwi’s Dream as the two speedsters distanced themselves from the field, posting opening fractions of :22.59 and :45.84 on the front end.
Still patiently handled in sixth as he entered the far turn, Mo Forza steadily ranged up through the corner and split the front-runners as he straightened for home.
Surging sharply as he took command, Mo Forza quickly drew off in the stretch before crossing a geared-down 4 1/4 lengths clear in a final time of 1:33.27 for the firm turf route.
“Peter and I talked before the race and we noted that there looked like a lot of speed in the race,” Prat said. “That turned out true. He told me he took his blinkers off and he was hoping for the best. I had a good trip. My horse was relaxed, then when I say ‘Go,’ he had a really strong response.”
Restrainedvengence narrowly took second by a head over Royal Ship, a Brazilian import making his North American debut. Bob and Jackie was 1 1/4 lengths behind them in fourth, completing the superfecta by a 1/2-length over Galilean.
Overdue, Bombard, Kiwi’s Dream, and Dreams of Valor completed the order of finish.
Sharp Samurai (second in Saturday’s Pacific Classic Stakes [G1]) and The Black Album were scratched.
Mo Forza’s win was a rebound performance after he finished ninth in January’s Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) and improved his overall record to 11-5-3-1. The 4-year-old Uncle Mo colt has now earned $614,460 for co-owners Bardy Farm (who bred him) and OG Boss, and Miller indicated that making the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) is the big goal.
“That gave me goose pimples,” Miller said. “I was just hoping I had him tight enough and ready to perform. These were a good group of horses, but he’s exceptional. To see this horse back in the winner’s circle is really exciting. He had a tendency to get rank in his races last year and wanted to run over horses, so we thought we didn’t want that problem this year, so we took the blinkers off. He’s been working without them and I thought that if it doesn’t work out, I’m going to look like an idiot, but thank goodness it worked out.”
Mo Forza returned $4.40 to win, $3 to place, and $2.40 to show. Restrainedvengence brought back $10.60 to place and $5.60 to show, while Royal Ship paid $4.60 to show.