Mo Forza, Lopez Win Grade I Hollywood Derby
Mo Forza © Benoit Photo
Providing jockey Paco Lopez with his third graded stakes victory of the afternoon, Mo Forza, the 5-2 betting choice, took advantage of a perfect trip to win the featured Grade I $300,000 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar Saturday.
Well-positioned from the start of the nine-furlong grass contest while saving ground, Mo Forza engaged pacesetting Neptune’s Storm at the top of the stretch and gradually wore down his rival in the final furlong, winning by three-quarters of a length in 1:48.57.
It was Mo Forza’s third straight win, having broken his maiden in late September at Santa Anita and then winning the Grade II Twilight Derby on Breeders’ Cup weekend at odds of 18-1.
Neptune’s Storm, game in defeat under jockey Abel Cedillo, was a half-length in front of third-place Standard Deviation, with Digital Age a rallying fourth in the field of a dozen three-year-olds. Kingly was scratched.
Mo Forza, a son of Uncle Mo, is owned and was bred in Kentucky by the Bardy Farm of Barry and Dyan Abrams. Co-owner is OG Boss, nom de course of Onofrio Pecoreio. The colt is trained by Peter Miller.
Earning a prize of $180,000 with his third success in eight starts, Mo Forza returned $7.60, $4.60 and $3.40. Neptune’s Storm paid $6.40 and $4.20, while Standard Deviation returned $5 to show.
Lopez’s previous stakes winners Saturday were Alms in the Jimmy Durante and Zuzanna in the Red Carpet.
PACO LOPEZ (Mo Forza, winner) – “You can look good when you’re riding the best horse in the race. 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. (This was his third stakes win on the afternoon.) 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.;”
ABEL CEDILLO (Neptune’s Storm, second) – “He broke good, and nobody seemed to want the lead so I took it. He was running easy and I thought we’d get there. He ran great. That was a hard one to lose.”
JOHN VELAZQUEZ (Standard Deviation, third) – “We ran out of racetrack. We just got a little too far back. I had a good trip otherwise.”
PETER MILLER (Mo Forza, winner) – “Really nice horse and a super ride. 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.”
FRACTIONS: :23.90 :48.22 1:12.44 1:36.62 1:48.57
The stakes win was the third of the meet (and third of the afternoon), but first in the Hollywood Derby for rider Lopez. He now has three stakes wins at Del Mar.
The stakes win was the second of the meet, but first in the Hollywood Derby for trainer Miller. He now has 29 stakes wins at Del Mar.
The owners of Mo Forza are Bardy Farm of Barry and Dyan Abrams, along with OG Boss, which is the nom du course for Onofrio Pecoreio.