Rank early but composed thereafter, trainer Peter Miller's longshot Mo Forza went from maiden winner on Sept. 29 to a Grade II stakes winner on Saturday, as he took Santa Anita's $200,000 Twilight Derby under Joel Rosario by 1 ¾ lengths. On a picture perfect late morning in Arcadia, the 3-year-old colt by Uncle Mo got a mile and one eighth on turf in 1:46.18.
Breaking from the far outside in a field of 11 sophomores, Mo Forza was rank as he came up to challenge pacesetter Kingly in the run to the Club House turn, but Rosario got him to settle into a tracking second position in the run up the backside and he overtook Kingly a furlong out to draw off in impressive fashion.
“I just told Joel to get a position,” said Miller. “There were one or two speeds, just sit behind the speed. The pace was a little slower than I thought, but he was loaded the whole way. The horse was throwing his head, but then Joel got him to settle.”
One mile maiden turf winner in his sixth start here on Sept. 29, Mo Forza, a bay colt by Uncle Mo out of the Unusual Heat mare Inflamed, was off at 18-1 and paid $39.60, $17.60 and $8.00.
Bred in Kentucky by (retired trainer) Barry and Diane Abrams' Bardy Farm, Mo Forza picked up $120,000 for the win, hiking his earnings to $199,460.
“He was a little rank leaving the gate, but I had him in-hand,” said Rosario, who was aboard for the first time today. “He was pulling, but not that bad. He relaxed really well on the first turn and settled into racing. This was a special win for me, since it was Barry Abrams. When I came down from Northern California, it was Barry who gave me my first opportunity and I won for him.”
Irish-bred Succeedandsurpass was extra game late, outrunning Neptune's Storm by a neck. Ridden by John Velazquez, Succeeedandsurpass was off at 7-1 and paid $8.20 and $4.60.
Neptune's Storm, who sat third the entire trip, was off as the 3-1 favorite with Ricardo Santana, Jr. and paid $3.40 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.54, 47.32, 1:11.16 and 1:34.84.
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