170 KENTUCKY DERBY QUALIFYING POINTS AT STAKE AS WINNER AWARDED WITH 100
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 8, 2017)–Set down while well off the pace leaving the half mile pole, Gormley kept to his task through the lane en route to a half length win in Saturday’s Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, trained by John Shirreffs and owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, the Malibu Moon colt got the mile and one eighth in 1:51.16 while picking up 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.
“I think the key was Espinoza rating Gormley and then making his big move,” said Shirreffs. “This is very exciting. It’s thrilling to have a Kentucky Derby horse and it’s for the same owners as (2005 Kentucky Derby winner) Giacomo. Royal Mo (third place finisher, also trained by Shirreffs and owned by the Mosses) ran really big. If he had a better post position, you wonder how he would have done.”
Fourth in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes here on March 11, Gormley was off at 6-1 in a field of 13 3-year-olds and paid $14.40, $7.20 and $5.00.
“Today, the big difference is that he was ready,” said Espinoza. “He’s really quick out of the gate and today the plan was to take him back and make him run, because it seemed like there was a little bit of speed in the race. I had a little bit of a hard time taking him back but all I had to do was jerk him one time, a bit harder than I wanted, and that’s all it took.
“He relaxed very nice. Down the backside, I started laughing to myself because I knew I was in a good position and I knew all the horses in front of me were going to stop…The only problem is his size. He’s not a very big horse but he’s tough and that’s what I like about him. He works really hard and that’s what it takes.”
A winner of the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes in his second start on Oct. 1, Gormley took the Grade III Sham Stakes two starts back and now has three graded stakes victories included in an overall mark of 6-4-0-0. With the $600,000 Derby first prize, he now has earnings of $920,000, while his stablemate, third place finisher, Royal Mo, banked $120,000 and collected 20 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.
“It’s been such a great time bringing both of these horses up and they both came through beautifully today,” said Jerry Moss. “It was fantastic to see Royal Mo do so well today. Gary (Stevens) rode him perfectly. He was the pacesetter for a while even…We’re just delighted.”
Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Jerry Hollendorfer’s Battle of Midway pressed the issue throughout and finished second, a half length in front of Royal Mo. Off at 7-1, Battle of Midway paid $7.80 and $5.40.
“He ran really well,” said Nakatani. “I wish we could’ve gotten a breather at some point, but it didn’t work out that way. He ran dynamite.”
Royal Mo, who broke from the far outside, pressed the pace along with Battle of Midway and Reach the World, and prevailed by a half length over Reach the World in the end. Off at 11-1, Royal Mo paid $7.60 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.66, 46.55, 1:10.92 and 1:37.55.
Note: Along with 100 points being awarded to the winner and 40 to the runner-up, 20 Kentucky Derby qualifying points went to the third place finisher and 10 were awarded to Reach the World, who ran fourth.