OG Boss and Bardy Farm's homebred Mo Forza continued to roll in Southern California, scoring his third consecutive victory in Saturday's Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. Under the guidance of jockey Paco Lopez, the Peter Miller-trained colt had to battle the length of the stretch with Neptune's Storm but was able to prevail by three-quarters of a length. The 3-year-old son of Uncle Mo, sent off as the 5-2 favorite in the field of 12, ran nine furlongs over Del Mar's “good” turf course in 1:48.57.
It was the third stakes win on the card for Paco Lopez, who also won the Red Carpet and the Jimmy Durante.
“You can look good when you're riding the best horse in the race,” Lopez said. “You've just got to get lucky (and get on that horse). I was using my hands on him during the running. I took a bit of a hold on him. I think he liked my hands. When we made the lead (in the stretch), he was waiting (on other horses). But we got busy. Today was a special day for me. Here I am: Del Mar. Big horses. Good jockeys. And I get to win three stakes. You've got to be lucky. I was today.”
The first to the lead was Neptune's Storm, and with Uncle Bull prompting the pace from second he led through early fractions of :23.90 and :48.22. Mo Forza was content to sit back in third early on against the rail, biding his time down the backstretch.
Lopez guided Mo Forza to the outside to make his challenge in the far turn, and drew even with Neptune's Storm at the top of the lane. Mo Forza grabbed a slight advantage but had to fight for every inch as Neptune's Storm refused to quit; at the wire, Mo Forza was three-quarters of a length ahead of his rival. Standard Deviation came flying from the rear of the field to finish third, beaten a little over a length for everything, and his stablemate Digital Age checked in fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by co-owner Bardy Farm, Mo Forza is out of the Unusual Heat mare Inflamed. It took the colt six starts to break his maiden but he hasn't lost since, adding wins in the G2 Twilight Derby and G1 Hollywood Derby to his resume. Overall, his record stands at 3-3-1 from seven starts with earnings of over $350,000.
“Really nice horse and a super ride,” said Miller of Mo Forza. “He got banged pretty good coming out of the gate but he came back strong. I think it's just maturity (for improvement in last two starts). I'd like to say it was some genius trainer move, but I'd be lying. I've always been high on this horse. He's always shown a lot of ability but it has taken time for him to put it all together, but we knew he had it in him.”
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