In trainer Tom Amoss's 30 plus years of training Thoroughbreds, the New Orleans native has found a great deal of success at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, which includes 11 training titles at the track. Winning the Louisiana Derby, however, is still something on the list awaiting a check mark.
On Saturday, March 24, Amoss will get a chance at the Grade II $1 million Louisiana Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com when he saddles Lone Sailor for his home track's premier event, which awards the Top 4 finishers qualifying points toward the Gr. I $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve based off of a 100-40-20-10 scale.
“I've never won the Louisiana Derby,” Amoss said. “I've been the favorite a couple of times but have never won it. Lone Sailor won't be the favorite but he's a longshot with a legitimate chance. This is my hometown, my family is around and I've got five brothers here. One day I want to win this race.”
Although he is a longshot at morning line odds of 20-1, the way that the son of Majestic Warrior has been training in preparation for the event has given Amoss confidence moving forward. Lone Sailor made his 3-year-old debut in the Gr. III Lecomte Stakes in January where he added blinkers and finished a well-beaten ninth behind Instilled Regard. Amoss removed the blinkers last time out and received a much improved effort when finishing a late-closing second in an allowance race behind Dark Templar.
“I've been seeing a lot from him in the mornings,” Amoss said. “As a trainer you're always experimenting and not everything you do is a success, but the secret to be a good trainer is to be creative and try new things. So we went back, to his old style and he ran a good race. He's a confirmed horse that wants to sit back and that's the plan in the Louisiana Derby.”
Following the recent passing of Tom Benson, perhaps a victory in the Louisiana Derby with GMB Racing's Lone Sailor would be even more meaningful for Amoss. A prominent figure in New Orleans, Benson was the owner of the city's two major sports franchises, the NFL's Saints and the NBA's Pelicans. Among the many quality Thoroughbreds owned by Benson were a pair of graded stakes winners and Kentucky Derby participants, Mo Tom and Tom's Ready. Mo Tom, who was trained by Amoss, counts the locally run Gr. III Lecomte (2016) among his victories, while Tom's Ready won three graded stakes while under the care of Dallas Stewart.
“Tom Benson was a wonderful man,” Amoss said. “He lived the American dream. He didn't start from very much and he worked his way up as only you can do in the United States. He was generous, he gave back, he was passionate about the things he loved, and horse racing was one of those things. I'm honored to be a small part of his legacy.”
Amoss also is taking a shot at his first victory in the Gr. II $400,000 TwinSpires.com Fair Grounds Oaks with Chocolate Martini, an upset winner of an allowance race on Feb. 17. The victory was the daughter of Broken Vow's first start for Amoss, who claimed the filly for Double Doors Racing LLC from trainer Bret Calhoun two starts back.
“This is the definition of taking a shot but its taking a shot with the right pieces in front of you,” Amoss said. “She has trained very well; she's stepped up last time. That race was flattered by subsequent races other horses ran in. It's an opportunity to see if she can step up to elite competition. We have no illusions here, we know that were taking a real chance. These are both longshots with a real chance.”
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