12/06/2016 3:34PM

Road to the 2017 Kentucky Derby: Remsen Stakes analysis

Chelsea Durand/NYRA photo
Mo Town, with John Velazquez up, pulls away to win the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct.

Grade 2, $300,000 Remsen Stakes, 1 1/8 miles, Aqueduct, Nov. 26, 2016
(10 Derby qualifying points for a win, 4 for second, 2 for third, 1 for fourth)
Winner: Mo Town, by Uncle Mo
Trainer: Tony Dutrow
Jockey: John Velazquez
Owners: Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Team D
Beyer Speed Figure: 86

This will be a fascinating race to watch going forward because the top two, MO TOWN and NO DOZING, both have plenty of promise, and it’s entirely possible the Beyer Speed Figure from this race is even faster than the 86 it was initially assigned.

The Aqueduct main track sped up during the afternoon, giving Team Beyer a challenge as to when to split the variant. It’s an educated guess, as explained in detail by Dick Jerardi, but it’s not out of the question Mo Town ran much faster.

Regardless, this was an impressive performance by Mo Town. It was only his third start, first around two turns, and he was coming off a two-month layoff after being forced to miss the Nashua Stakes three weeks earlier with – as reported by colleague David Grening – a sore gluteal muscle.
Mo Town took up a stalking position in fourth, three paths wide, into the first turn as TAKAFUL ran off to a long lead. He advanced to second and narrowed the gap on Takaful down the backstretch, stayed on Takaful’s hip around the far turn and into the stretch, took the lead a furlong out, and drew away.

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

No Dozing, who finished second, was coming off a deceptively good effort in the Breeders’ Futurity. In this race, he was three to four paths wide on the first turn while toward the rear, seemed to get a bit rank midway on the first turn, continued wide down the backstretch with the pace slowing noticeably, wound up four paths wide while rallying on the far turn, couldn’t stay with Mo Town through the lane, but did kept to his task and was a clear runner-up despite the significant ground loss. He’s had four different riders in his four races and has run at four different tracks. He’s one to follow for sure.

Takaful, who was third, was given as big ask, going into a 1 1/8-mile stakes race off a 6 1/2-furlong debut win against maidens. He showed his inexperience by dashing off to a big lead, settled down midway down the backstretch, responded when initially challenged by Mo Town, could not keep pace in upper stretch with Mo Town, and gradually, and understandably, tired late.

WIN WITH PRIDE finished fourth and just missed catching Takaful for third. He broke sharply, then settled into third, outside NEWMAN and inside Mo Town, around the first turn. He lost ground to Mo Town down the backstretch, rallied three paths wide on the far turn, could not keep pace with Mo Town nor No Dozing in upper stretch, but kept plugging away.

YOU’RE TO BLAME, who finished fifth, raced in midpack early while in the two path on the first turn, was outrun on the far turn, was guided to the rail, and went evenly thereafter.

TALE OF SILENCE, who was sixth, had no early speed and trailed early, made a mild, mid-race brush down the backstretch while inside, waited in traffic, made another rally between runners on the far turn, but couldn’t make up much ground late. He appears a bit green and should do better with experience.

TELLMEAFOOKYSTORY, who was seventh, raced on the rail while midpack around the first turn, stayed inside down the backstretch, came under an aggressive ride with three furlongs to go, but had nothing to offer.

HOOKUP, who was eighth, had to check and was shuffled back into the first turn, got closer when the pace slowed mid-race, but was outrun from the far turn all the way home.

Newman, who was ninth, had to check inside of Takaful in the first 100 yards, raced in second around the first turn and into the backstretch while on the rail, remained in an ideal spot around the far turn, but tired badly through the lane.

LEAD ASTRAY, who was last of 10, couldn’t get over from his outside draw and wound up four paths wide into the first turn, fell back to last down the backstretch, and was allowed to coast home through the stretch when he was so far behind.