NEW ORLEANS (January 16, 2016) – For the third time in five career starts, G M B Racing’s Tom Amoss-trained Mo Tom got the better of his friendly rival of the same ownership, Dallas Stewart-trained Tom’s Ready. The dark bay son of Uncle Mo collared and pulled away from his foe, winning the Grade III $200,000 TwinSpires.com Lecomte Stakes by 2¼ lengths on Saturday afternoon at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Both Mo Tom and Tom’s Ready are owned by Gayle Benson, wife of New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson.
Winning for the third time, the Kentucky-bred overcame hitting the gate at the start and a sound bump nearing the first turn to settle nicely in eighth among the nine-horse field. Launching a steady rally on the final turn, he continued on to justify his 2-1 favoritism with a smart victory under jockey Corey Lanerie. It was another three-quarters of a length astern Tom’s Ready to a game Uncle Walter and jockey Miguel Mena, who were attempting to continue Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and Mike Maker’s domination of Fair Grounds Kentucky Derby preps. The owner-trainer team had won five of the previous six sophomore graded stakes at the New Orleans oval over the past two years. Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Todd Pletcher-trained Destin rallied for fourth under Julien Leparoux, 2¾ lengths ahead of Zayat Stables’ D. Wayne Lukas-trained pacesetter Z Royal.
Mo Tom traveled the mile and 70-yard distance in 1:43.18 on the fast main track after earlier fractions of 23.64, 47.3, 1:12.47 and a mile in 1:38.89. The 3-year-old colt and $150,000 Keeneland September 2014 purchase earned 10 Road to the Kentucky Derby points and returned $6.40, $3.60 and $2.40, earning $120,000 to boost his career bankroll to $211,526. The Lecomte was his second stakes victory following a win in the $81,000 Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 1 and first effort since a game third in the Grade II $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club at the same course four weeks later.
“It was good. He broke really good and got pinched a little bit going into the first turn,” Lanerie said. “We got knocked a little off-stride there, but he gathered himself up really good. Down the backside I was pretty confident, especially when I called on him to get in a little bit better position. On the middle of the turn I was going to try to maybe weave my way through but I had so much horse I said, ‘let me just put him in the clear.’”
“Great way to start his 3-year-old season,” 11-time Fair Grounds champion trainer Amoss said. “Today’s race was a mile and 70 (yards), I’m sure Corey (Lanerie) would agree, when the distance gets further, the better our horse is going to get – so we’re really excited about that. I have to say Gayle Benson has been great, she’s a great owner and she gets a big assist from her partner Tom Benson. We’re really pleased, they’re both New Orleans natives – we’re really happy.”
Tom’s Ready, who earned four points toward Kentucky Derby qualification, returned $5.60 and $3.40, while Uncle Walter returned $3. Uncle Walter and Destin earned two and one point, respectively.
“It was my first time on him and I wish I had known him a little bit better,” said Shaun Bridgmohan, who was aboard Tom’s Ready. “He has a good turn of foot; good acceleration. He flattened out a little at the end, but he had made a big move.”
“I had a great trip and a nice horse,” Mena said. “He’s a little bit on the green side and I think there’s a lot more in there and we haven’t seen his best yet. He ran hard, I just think we got beat by horses who have had more racing. He’ll be tough to beat next time.”
“He’s still learning a little bit and green, but he came running at the end and finished strong,” Leparoux said.
The Lecomte order of finish was completed by Pinnacle Peak, Fish Trappe Road, Mending Fences and Tarpon Bay Road. Battle Tap, Indygo Breeze, Noble Thought, Riding in the Wind and Dolphus were scratched. Dolphus, owned by Dede McGehee and trained by Joe Sharp, was scratched by the stewards on the advice of the veterinarian after flipping and unseating rider Brian Hernandez, Jr., behind the gate. Hernandez was unhurt.
Source: Fair Grounds