In many ways, Saturday’s Grade 2 $1 million Louisiana Derby was ‘deja vu all over again’ for winner Gun Runner and fourth place finisher Mo Tom. For Gun Runner, it was another stellar win as he swept the two big Kentucky Derby prep races at New Orleans’ Fairgrounds Park. The 100 points he earned in the win shoots him to the top of the Kentucky Derby qualification standings–at least for the next week until presumptive race favorite Mohaymen starts in the Florida Derby which also offers a top prize of 100 points. For Mo Tom, it was another troubled ride and another disappointing finish much to the dismay of New Orleans native trainer Tom Amoss.
Amoss was beside himself after Mo Tom once again found traffic and could do no better than a fourth place finish. With 31 points, Mo Tom has a decent shot at making the Kentucky Derby field but given his recent form it’s unclear how he’ll do once he gets there. To this observer, jockey Corie Lanerie looked to be doing anything and everything he could to find open racing space for his mount but to Amoss he’s the scapegoat: “Corey’s going to have to explain that ride. It’s beyond my understanding. He was locked and loaded, so why he chose the most dangerous route is beyond me. I flashed back to all the work we’ve done with him. It’s like being an eyewitness to your kid being beaten up at the playground. He’s got such a fine move. Just go around.”
Jockey Florent Giroux was aboard Gun Runner and turned in a flawless ride. He positioned Gun Runner just off the pace in the early going and made the move on the far turn. And unlike Amoss, Gun Runner’s trainer Tom Asmussen couldn’t have been happier with the situation or the horse: “It’s extremely exciting. He’s a very athletic horse, handy, with a good temperament, and he stayed on to the wire.”
Gun Runner earned 100 points for the Lousiana Derby victory and 50 for the win in last month’s Risen Star. He’s now got 151 points, 51 more than Lani, who earned 100 points for winning Saturday’s UAE Derby and 81 more than Mohaymen. Mohaymen gets his shot to reclaim the lead next weekend in the Florida Derby.