06/25/2016 5:37PM

Mo Tom takes outside route to Ohio Derby victory

Barbara D. Livingston
Mo Tom, with Javier Castellano up, won the Ohio Derby by three lengths.

This time, nothing was left to chance with Mo Tom. The victim of trips ranging from mild trouble in the Kentucky Derby to near disaster in the Louisiana Derby and the Risen Star, Mo Tom was kept outside and in the clear Saturday at Thistledown in the $500,000 Ohio Derby and scored a decisive victory, beating Adventist by three lengths.

Mo Tom was eighth in the Kentucky Derby, but would have won the Risen Star and might have won the Louisiana Derby had he not run into bad trouble in the homestretch.

“I feel validated,” said Tom Amoss, who trains Mo Tom for Gayle Benson’s GMB  Racing. “That was sweet.”

Mo Tom paid $4.20 to win and stopped the timer in 1:51.88 after 1 1/8 miles on a fast track. Discreet Lover, a 79-1 shot, finished third; Cocked and Loaded was fourth. Wild About Deb, the solid second choice, chased the pace inside, but had no late run and checked in seventh.

Javier Castellano replaced Corey Lanerie aboard Mo Tom for Saturday’s race, and Amoss’s pre-race instructions were simple.

“I told him, ‘When he starts running, just get out of his way. We don’t want any trouble,’” Amoss said.

And that is what Castellano did. Mo Tom, as is his wont, quickly dropped back to last in the race’s first furlong as Mo Dont Know made the lead with Cocked and Loaded pressing. The pace was a moderate 23.84 for the first quarter-mile and a slow 48.42 for the first half, at which point Cocked and Loaded collared Mo Dont Know and led the field around the far turn.

By then, Mo Tom had begun lengthening his considerable stride, and even while racing widest around the bend, perhaps four paths from the fence, he was quickly passing horses. Unlike in all his recent races, when Mo Tom still had work to do after turning for home, he had already nearly made the front straightening for home Saturday. He was a touch slow to change leads, veering inward as Castellano requested he do so, but Mo Tom leveled off and won as much the best.

“He ran good when you think of the ground he lost, and he had to overcome a slower pace than I thought he would,” Amoss said.

Adventist, racing without blinkers in an equipment change, raced in mid-pack and found his best stride when shifted wide in the final furlong-and-half, finishing solidly for a clear second, almost three lengths in front of Discreet Lover.

Mo Tom, by Uncle Mo out of the Rubiano mare, Caroni, was bred in Kentucky by Hargus and Sandra Sexton, and Silver Fern Farm. He won for the fourth time in nine starts and more than doubled his bankroll with the $300,000 winner’s share. A long, narrow colt, Mo Tom was a late foal and still has plenty of room to grow, Amoss said. “He’s getting there. His body type is just long and lean.”

Amoss said Mo Tom’s connections “want to go East” with their horse, but there is no set plan yet for Mo Tom’s summer campaign.