Mo Strike handles all challenges to win Sanford – The Daily Gazette
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A deep and strenuous trail? Check.
A full starting grid? Check.
A major challenge at the end of the race from a good horse? Check.
It could have been three strikes and you’re out for Mo Strike, but he handled everything thrown at him and tucked inside the sixteenth post for a 3 1/2 win in the Grade III of Sanford for 2 years. -old at Saratoga Racetrack on Saturday.
On a sunny, breezy and comfortable day in front of an announced crowd of 30,064 paying entry, Mo Strike picked up a solid victory on his career debut at Churchill Downs on June 19 – also against a large field – with another solid win that sets him up for a shot at another ranked stake later in the competition.
“I’m not going to say he’s going to go a mile and a quarter yet, but he’s a good horse, and I think his biggest asset is his spirit,” trainer Brad Cox said with a laugh, referring within distance of the Kentucky Derby.
Mo Strike, who was ridden by Florent Geroux and left with betting odds of 8-1, battled pacemaker Curly Jack around the bend in the six-stay Sanford then had to fend off Andiamo a Firenze, an impressive first winner at Belmont Park on June 3, on the sixteenth pole to win.
Long shot Great Navigator got up to catch Anziamo a Firenze by a neck for second.
“It broke super clean,” said Geroux. “From there, I was clear from the start. I leave the horse inside [Curly Jack] go. I kept an eye out for the nine [Andiamo a Firenze]. We were able to slow the second quarter down a bit, and when the horse came towards me in the hallway, my horse was able to give me another gear and fight to the wire.
“I was very pleased with his effort. The last eighth of a mile, I felt the race was pretty much over and he was doing well. If someone else was going to attack me, I felt like I had another gear to fight them.
“I didn’t really know how the rhythm would set, but I liked the way it broke and got there,” Cox said. “He galloped very well in his first run, he’s a pretty smart horse and I think he could stretch a bit.
“He showed some ability and fought a very good horse to eighth pole. This horse cut a big figure in his first race at Belmont, and when Florent asked him on the eighth pole, he answered and was able to pull away a bit.
Geroux said the trip in the Sanford was similar to that of Mo Strike in the race at Churchill Downs, when he raced against nine rivals.
There was a full field of 12 in the gate for the Sanford.
“I wanted to give him a good education,” Geroux said of the Churchill race. “I spoke to Brad before the race, and I just wanted a horse or two up front and let them do the dirty work for us and from there we just took over. The margin wasn’t very big , but it was a good group of 2 year olds that day, I felt the second one was a good Todd Pletcher horse and gave us what we paid for.
Some of the previous races on the map suggested that the track was tiring and favored closers.
Cox said Mo Strike didn’t seem to have a problem with that, given he was placed up front and was able to finish well.
“It’s early in the competition, but I think this track could be a bit of a grind,” he said. “I shadowed some workers this morning, and it can be tough, but he got through it, so that’s a plus moving forward.”
The next move might be the 6 1/2 stadium Saratoga Special in the next stage of graded stakes for 2-year-olds on earth, but the seven-stadium Grade I Hopeful also has appeal.
“He’s an Uncle Mo, he’s a Grade I, and that would take a lot of the pressure off, but he’s a nice colt,” Cox said. “A lot of times this race can come up with short fields, maybe a horse is scaring them off. There aren’t many horses that have broken their maiden.
“He showed up against a bigger group in Churchill. He broke from the outside and had a good trip that day, but he also had to fight some horses that day.
“I think the key, especially with young horses, is position and how they can handle themselves,” Geroux said. “He’s a very smart horse, he can break sharply and relax nicely. So when you ask him in the lane, he has another report to go on.
CHOOSE 6 MOVE
After no one cashed in a Pick 6 ticket the first two days of the competition, resulting in over half a million dollars being carried over, the bet was hit on Saturday for $299,368, with over 2.7 million dollars in the pool.
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Categories: On the track, Sports