ARCADIA, Calif. – A winner of his last three starts, all Grade II turf stakes, Peter Miller’s Mo Forza, along with Michael McCarthy’s ultra-consistent Smooth Like Strait, headline Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 City of Hope Mile as a field of five 3-year-olds and up compete over the Santa Anita turf.
Bred in Kentucky by the late trainer Barry Abrams’ Bardy Farm, Mo Forza, who won last year’s City of Hope Mile two starts back, emerged from a 10-month layoff on Aug. 21 to rally and win the Grade II Del Mar Mile, his third consecutive Grade II win at a mile on grass. With Flavien Prat bidding for his fourth consecutive win aboard the 5-year-old full horse by Uncle Mo, out of the Unusual Heat mare Inflamed, Mo Forza seeks his sixth one-mile turf win from eight tries.
Owned by Bardy Farm and OG Boss, Grade I winner Mo Forza has four wins from six starts over the Santa Anita turf. With lofty Beyer Speed Figures of 104, 106 and most recently 103 to his credit, he rates tops billing.
Trained by Michael McCarthy and owned and bred by Cannon Thoroughbreds, LLC, Smooth Like Strait has four wins from eight tries at a mile on turf, with all four wins coming at Santa Anita. A solid second, beaten a head in the Grade II Del Mar Mile Aug. 21, he was second, beaten a neck two starts back in the Grade II Eddie Read Stakes and, in his career-best performance, he sped to 1 ½ length win in the Grade I Shoemaker Mile here three starts back on May 31.
A 4-year-old colt by Midnight Lute, Smooth Like Strait, who along with Mo Forza will tote co-high weight of 126 pounds, is three necks and a head away from being unbeaten in five starts this year. With an overall mark of 17-7-5-2, he has earnings of $1,043,823 and will be ridden by Umberto Rispoli for the ninth consecutive time.
A gutty neck winner of the Grade I Kilroe Mile on turf here March 6, trainer Dan Blacker’s Hit the Road was subsequently fifth as the 5-2 favorite in the Grade I Makers Mile (turf) at Keeneland on April 9. Subsequent to that, he was freshened up and returned to the races on Aug. 21 at Del Mar, finishing a big third, beaten one length by Mo Forza.
With a recent race to his credit, Hit the Road will again get the services of eastern-based Florent Geroux as he bids for his fifth win from six starts over the course. A 4-year-old colt owned by D K Racing, LLC, Radley Equine Inc., Taste of Victory Stables, Rick Gold, Tony Maslowski and Dave Odmark, Hit the Road has six wins from 11 overall starts and earnings of $539,751.
The Grade Ii City Of Hope Mile with jockeys & weights in post position order
Race 3 of 11, Approximate post time 1:30 p.m. PT
1. Red Storm Risen—Joe Bravo—122
2. Mo Forza—Flavien Prat—126
3. Hit the Road—Florent Geroux—124
4. Order and Law—Abel Cedillo—122
5. Smooth Like Strait—Umberto Rispoli—126
The City of Hope Mile is one of five stakes on an 11-card Saturday with first post time at 12:30 p.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
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Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Office
Photo: Making it two G2’s in a row, Mo Forza won the City of Hope Mile at Santa Anita on October 3, 2020, with Flavien Prat aboard. (Benoit Photos)