Mo Tom winning the LeComte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds – Photo by Amanda Weir Hodges/Hodges Photography
Tom Amoss is already having a great meet at Fair Grounds this winter–he’s currently ranked second among all trainers by money won with $933,660 and third by races won with 30–but a great meet could become even better on Saturday when Amoss sends out Mo Tom in the $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and Venus Valentine in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II).
Both horses have already won graded stakes races at the Fair Grounds meet, with Mo Tom winning the LeComte Stakes (gr. III) and Venus Valentine winning the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. II), and strong efforts on Saturday could propel them to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), respectively.
For Mo Tom, the Louisiana Derby is a chance for redemption. Last time out, the son of Uncle Mo finished third in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) after checking hard in the homestretch and re-rallying to lose by just 1 1/2 lengths. In the official Louisiana Derby Day Notes on the Fair Grounds website, Amoss mentioned that winning the Louisiana Derby is the major goal for Mo Tom.
“We’re all very keen to find a way to win the Louisiana Derby,” Amoss said of the colt’s connections. “It’s important to all of us that we win here and we aren’t looking beyond it. I think he’s doing great and honestly I couldn’t be happier with him.”
“The pace scenario will be different this time, as I don’t think it will be as quick as in the Risen Star,” Amoss continued. “I would like it to be faster, but I know ’Tom is going to be okay. He’s a very talented horse, he’s fit and is training well.”
Some handicappers have noticed that Mo Tom has only posted two timed workouts in advance of the Louisiana Derby, the most recent being a half-mile in :48.60 on March 13th. But according to Amoss, this has been the plan for Mo Tom.
“It has been by design to just have two works,” Amoss explained. “If for some reason he’s aggressive in this race and that takes him out of his game, it’ll just prove that we’re on a learning curve with our horse. Also, he’s the kind of horse who puts a lot into his gallops. Unlike the ordinary horse, I don’t see the need for him blitz it out there in works every week.”
With Venus Valentine, who closed from fourteen lengths behind to win the Rachel Alexandra Stakes by a length, Amoss is pondering a slight change in running style.
“She’s doing fine,” Amoss said. “I’ve had no setbacks with her and she’s trained well. You can’t change a horse’s style too much, but I would like to see her a little more involved in the race.”
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to sign up for email newsletters and special offers from The Turf Board! Also, if you’re a fan of horse racing history, please check out my upcoming book Lost to the Ages: 10 Forgotten Champions of U.S. Horse Racing, scheduled for release later this year!