ARCADIA, Calif. — Royal Mo won the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes by 3+ lengths Saturday at Santa Anita, giving owners Jerry and Ann Moss a second contender for the Kentucky Derby.
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Royal Mo ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.48. The 3-year-old colt trained by John Shirreffs earned 10 points toward qualifying for the Kentucky Derby’s 20-horse field.
The Mosses’ other 3-year-old, Gormley, won the Sham Stakes by a head last month at Santa Anita. The couple won the 2005 Kentucky Derby with 50-1 Giacomo, tied for the second-longest shot to win the race.
“We haven’t had two horses in this position in a long time and it’s fun,” said Jerry Moss, co-founder of A&M Records. “We don’t really see anyone else coming up that scares us.”
Royal Mo paid $5, $3.40 and $2.20. The colt’s sire is Uncle Mo, who was undefeated as a 2-year-old but got knocked out of the 2011 Kentucky Derby because of illness.
Irap returned $4.20 and $2.60 while 7-5 favorite Sheer Flattery was another neck back in third and paid $2.20 to show in the Grade 3 race.
“Royal Mo just ran lights out,” said Doug O’Neill, who trains Irap, fourth-place Term of Art and last-place Dangerfield. “When you give a horse like Royal Mo an uncontested lead, you’re going to be in trouble.”
Breaking from the rail in the field of five, Espinoza took Royal Mo to the early lead. Irap pulled even with Royal Mo heading into the stretch turn, but soon fell back.
“He’s such a big, heavy horse,” Espinoza said. “He doesn’t have that quickness for the first couple of strides. As soon as he gets into a rhythm though, he’ll keep going.”
Royal Mo ran second in his first two starts and then won by 1\ lengths at Del Mar on Nov. 27. The Mosses purchased the colt for $300,000 at auction.
“He’s improving a lot,” Espinoza said. “From the last few races to this race, he’s really coming along. He’s going in the right direction. Hopefully, we keep going all the way.”
Moss said he wants to separate Royal Mo and Gormley, who is being pointed toward the San Felipe Stakes on March 11 at Santa Anita.
“I like Arkansas and it’s been great for us,” said Moss, whose superstar mare Zenyatta won at Oaklawn Park. “We’ll take one of them back there.”
Sheer Flattery was floated four-wide into the first turn, moved up inside leaving the second turn and just missed finishing second.
In the $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes, 3-5 favorite St. Joe Bay won by 2\ lengths under Kent Desormeaux.
The 5-year-old gelding ran six furlongs in 1:08.75 and paid $3.40 to win in the Grade 2 race.
Moe Candy was second and Ike Walker took third.