The winding and twisting journey of Mo Tom is taking another unexpected turn. The four-year-old is next expected to compete on January 5th but will make a switch to grass. Any future endeavours after that depend on the results of that race, but the long term game is always simple.
Mo Tom is expected to be an anchor for breeding in the region of Louisiana.
“He turns 5 in January and he’s had a nice career,” noted Greg Bensel, his manager. “We were thinking what is the end game and the Keeneland sale was one of the options, but we’ll probably scratch him out of the sale. But he’s been training great and doing well at the track so we’re going to give him one peek at the grass.”
Mo Tom is an Uncle Mo progeny out of Caroni and while his on-track results haven’t been startling, he’s had obvious potential that just never seemed to match those of his rivals. Mo Tom competed in the 2016 Kentucky Derby and finished 8th after finishing 4th in the Louisiana Derby and winning the Lecomte. He also scored big in the 2016 Ohio Derby later that summer and has since been competitive at even the highest grades, but never a winner. His last race was the 2017 Clark Handicap where he fell to 8th.
“At the end of the day, the primary goal of the Bensons and G M B Racing is to support Louisiana breeding any way we can,” Bensel continued. The Benson family is most famous for owning the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, so their homegrown mindset is geared towards the bayou. Improving the breeding standard in the state of Louisiana is a big priority and it could receive a boost from Mo Tom. “Right now, the plan is to get him to the farm during the first couple of weeks of January. If he wins by 20 lengths Jan. 5 we will have to re-think that, but that’s the plan.”
Trainer Tom Amoss had big aspirations for the horse, who was born in May which comes later in the breeding season. There was always patience surrounding him but a few unlucky quirks during his career have steered him towards a strange place. “Everything up to and including the Ohio Derby was everything we expected from Mo Tom,” Amoss elaborated. “He was a May foal so we were really excited about what he would do as he got older. Our biggest setback was in the fall of last year at Saratoga when he just didn’t care for the track and it took its toll on him. It was nothing major but he didn’t train well after that. He got very unenthusiastic about his training; he wasn’t into it any more. He’d been going for a long time. We just gave him some time off with the expectation he would come back at 4.”
A switch to grass may be what Mo Tom needs to rejuvenate his career, but even if his January 5th run doesn’t produce optimal results in the standings, there’s already an established plan for him in 2018 should he enter retirement. The state of Louisiana will be lucky to have him.
In 16 starts, Mo Tom has returned a 4-4-2 record and earned $665,356. He was purchased as a yearling for $150,000.