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DEL MAR, CA – Showing no signs of rust despite having a 10-month layoff to overcome, Bardy Farm and OG Boss’ Mo Forza flew late to nail Smooth Like Strait and win his big return in Saturday’s $300,000 Del Mar Mile Stakes (G2).
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The even-money favorite under Flavien Prat in the field of five when sent away from the outside post, Mo Forza broke inward and hit Count Again before recovering and settling off the pace.
His Peter Miller stablemate Neptune’s Storm set the pace, posting opening fractions of :23.69, :48.52, and 1:12.17 while Smooth Like Strait gave closest watch.
Mo Forza angled out four-wide near the top of the stretch and began lumbering his way toward the front as Smooth Like Strait took the lead near the 1/8 pole.
Overtaking Smooth Like Strait in the final jumps, Mo Forza put his head across first while completing the firm turf mile route in 1:35.03.
“I was worried if I had him fit enough, I really was,” Miller said. “But he’s a champion and he’s got that heart of a champion. I’m just glad I had him fit enough. Just enough.”
Hit the Road was a length further back in third, with Neptune’s Storm another 1/2-length behind him. Count Again never engaged before completing the order of finish. Next Shares scratched.
Mo Forza’s win was his second straight in the Del Mar Mile and third straight following last October’s City of Hope Mile Stakes (G2), held at Santa Anita Park and Mo Forza’s likely next start before targeting the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). The 5-year-old son of Uncle Mo improved his record to 13-7-3-1 with $914,460 earned.
“He did it last year and he did it again this year, so all the credit goes to the trainer,” said Prat, aboard for the 2020 score as well. “He broke well and then relaxed nicely for me. He really responded when I asked him to run and we were in a sprint from the 1/8-mile pole home. I knew we got up.”
Mo Forza returned $4.20 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.10 to show. Smooth Like Strait brought back $2.60 to place and $2.20 to show. Hit the Road paid $2.60 to show.
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