Sanford winner Mo Strike targets G1 Hopeful 

July 17, 2022

Arklow breezes for return in G2 Bowling Green

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Brad Cox has gotten off to a strong start at the Saratoga Race Course meeting, saddling his third winner in as many days when Nasser Bin Omaiah’s Mo Strike came home the best of 12 in Saturday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Sanford for juveniles sprinting six furlongs over the main track.

The son of Uncle Mo is now a perfect 2-for-2 after breaking his maiden in a 5 1/2-furlong sprint on June 19 at Churchill Downs. He showed professionalism in his step up to graded company with an emphatic 3 1/2-length victory under Florent Geroux.

Cox said Mo Strike will now turn his attention to the Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful on September 5 and will likely skip the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special on August 13. 

“He’s great and looks fantastic. I think the right thing to do from a timing standpoint is to look at the Hopeful and work our way back from there,” said Cox. “I think we’ll skip the Saratoga Special, because it’s asking a lot of him, and this gives him more time. We brought him back quick off of his maiden win, so he’ll have all summer here. It’s a great place to be, so there’s no rush.” 

Mo Strike first flashed his impressive turn of foot with a similar trip in his maiden-breaking score where he edged clear from second to win by three-quarters of a length. Cox said that effort and a sharp half-mile breeze in 1:00.60 on July 9 at Churchill gave him confidence that the colt would deliver on Saturday. 

“I thought he’d run well. He had settled in well and his last work at Churchill before he shipped was really good, so I felt like we had done as much with him in the mornings as we could, and he responded well,” said Cox. “He’s a very intelligent horse. To just gallop over the main track for a couple days and put in that kind of performance just shows that he’s able to adapt to things and how mature he is for a 2-year-old. So, I’m excited about him and for his future. I think he’s one of the top 2-year-olds in the country, and if he can move forward, he’ll stay in the top tier.” 

Arklow won the G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Oct. 5, 2019, at Belmont, his last race Oct. 9, 2021, where he finished fifth. (Chelsea Durand)

Cox will look forward to more graded stakes success in the coming weeks with Caravel looking to repeat in the Grade 3, $200,000 Caress on July 23, and Arklow making his 8-year-old debut off a nine-month layoff in the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green on July 31. 

Caravel and Arklow both breezed over the Oklahoma turf training track Sunday, the former working a half-mile in 49.60 seconds with jockey Tyler Gaffalione up and the latter drilling five furlongs in 1:01.72. 

Cox said he was particularly impressed with the way Caravel has trained since a prominent score in the Grade 3 Intercontinental on June 10 at Belmont Park where she defeated a loaded field of 10 rivals. 

“She was amazing. She was amazing last week and this week she was too, but a little more steady – a maintenance move,” Cox said. “Tyler was on her; he’s worked her several times in Kentucky and she looks like she’s set up for a big race Saturday. I don’t know if we need to see any improvement from her, just more of the same. She likes it up here and we’re hoping she can duplicate her run from last year.” 

Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger and the Estate of Peter Coneway’s Arklow, a fan-favorite son of Arch, has been away from the races since an even fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic in October at Belmont. The multiple graded stakes-winning earner of nearly $3 million has been working steadily at Churchill Downs since May before moving to Saratoga last week. 

Cox said that Arklow should be poised to run well after some time away from the races, noting his victory in the Grade 3 Louisville off six month’s rest last year. 

“He’s pointing for the Bowling Green. It’s a tall task off the layoff, but he’s shown the ability to run really well off layoffs,” said Cox. “Last year, his first race back was in the Louisville Handicap and he won that. I’m pretty happy with how he’s doing.” 

Since 2017, the evergreen Arklow has won at least one graded stakes every year, including a Grade 1 triumph in the 2019 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, and Cox said he is showing no signs of slowing down. 

“We gave him plenty of time, and he’s older so you might not be able to get as many races in him each year, but he loves Kentucky Downs so we’ll point for there as well,” said Cox. “The Bowling Green makes sense as a spot to get him started. We get to breeze on the turf here, enjoy the weather and hopefully it works out.”  

NYRA Press Office
Photo of Mo Strike winning the Sanford by Joe Labozzetta

@jonathanstettin congrats on a great hit. Very nice job!!!

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