DEL MAR, CA – The grass is truly greener for Coolmore’s former dirt racer Mo Town, who rallied from near the rear to take Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Hollywood Derby.
Off a step slow from post 7 under John Velazquez, Mo Town settled in next-to-last of the nine-horse field while Ritzy A. P. set the early pace through fractions of :23.34 and :47.67. Local turf specialist Sharp Samurai briefly held the lead at the top of the stretch, but a four-wide race for the wire quickly ensued, with Big Score, Mo Town, and Channel Maker all making a bid. In the end, Mo Town was first by a length in a stakes-record final time of 1:46.36 for the 1 1/8-mile turf event.
“I got to try something different with this horse today,” Velazquez said. “I’ve been trying to get him to settle. He broke slow, so I didn’t panic with him. I let him settle and run right along. Then when I asked him he responded. He responded very well.”
Channel Maker won the three-way photo for second, finishing a nose in front of Big Score, who was in turn a nose past Sharp Samurai. Bowies Hero, Ritzy A.P., Ann Arbor Eddie, Souper Tapit, and Just Howard completed the order of finish.
Trained by Anthony Dutrow, Mo Town now has a record of 9-4-1-1 with earnings of $509,600. The 3-year-old son of Uncle Mo began 2017 as a top Kentucky Derby prospect but failed to live up to the promise that he showed after winning the Grade 2 Remsen. After failing to find continued success on the dirt, Dutrow put Mo Town on grass last out against older allowance company, a race that he dominated by 6 1/2 lengths.
“Our horse had a chance and I just felt like we had to be here,” Dutrow said. “I don’t know how this turf course plays, but I knew at the top of the stretch Mo Town had a lot of work to do, and I’m glad he was up to it.”
Mo Town returned $6.20 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3.60 to show. Channel Maker brought back $7.80 to place and $4.60 to show, while Big Score paid $3.60 to show.