ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 2, 2021)–Although the situation appeared dire with a furlong to run, heavily favored Mo Forza rallied late to overcome a three length deficit and defeat pacesetter Smooth Like Strait by a half length in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 City of Hope Mile. Ridden by Flavien Prat and trained by Peter Miller, Mo Forza, in his second start of the year, covered the mile on turf in 1:32.45 while notching his fourth consecutive win.
Bred by the late trainer Barry Abrams’ Bardy Farm and owned by Bardy Farm and OG Boss, Mo Forza, a 5-year-old full horse by Uncle Mo out of the Unusual Heat mare Inflamed, will hope to make the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile his next stop on Nov. 6 at Del Mar.
An attentive fourth while a bit keen around the first turn, Mo Forza was handled confidently and was last, about six lengths off the lead at the three furlong pole. With Smooth Like Strait opening up by about two lengths on Red Storm Risen with a furlong to run, Mo Forza faced a tall order as the 3-5 favorite.
“It was a bit of an awkward race,” said Prat, who has been aboard throughout the four-game winning streak, which dates back to Aug. 23, 2020. “Then we hit the first turn and slowed down a lot, then we got to the backside and took off again, so it was a bit of an awkward race. After that, they all came up to me around the far turn, I was trying to get him together, to regroup and get a good run down the lane and that’s what he did.
“He showed a lot of class today. He’s definitely one who always gives you everything. He has a great turn of foot and it’s always a pleasure riding him. Peter did a great job of bringing him back off a long layoff last time and again today.”
A six-time graded stakes winner coming into today, Mo Forza dominated the wagering in a field of five 3-year-olds an up and paid $3.20, $2.20 and $2.10.
“I was very worried the first minute and 30 seconds,” said Miller, who celebrated his 55th birthday today. “The pace was quick in the early going, then it slowed down and then they picked it up again. I didn’t have any pre-race instructions for Flavien…It is up to him. He knows the horse. If the pace is fast, he’ll lay back. If it’s a moderate pace, we’ll be up close. Our next stop is the Breeders’ Cup.”
Ridden by Umberto Rispoli, Smooth Like Strait held off Hit the Road by a head for second money and returned $2.40 and $2.10 as the 9-5 second choice.
Hit the Road, off at 5-1 with Florent Geroux, paid $2.10 to show while finishing 2 ¼ lengths in front of Red Storm Risen.
Fractions on the race were 22.61, 46.66, 1:08.98 and 1:20.57.
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Santa Anita Press Release
Photo: Mo Forza, (Benoit)