Royal Mo, Battle of Midway Work Toward Kentucky Derby

Royal Mo, Battle of Midway Work Toward Kentucky Derby
Photo: Zoe Metz
Battle of Midway works April 1 at Santa Anita

Battle of Midway and Royal Mo, second and third, respectively, in the April 8 Santa Anita Derby (G1), each worked April 16 at Santa Anita Park for what their connections hope will lead to a position in the starting field of 20 for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1).

Royal Mo's three-furlong effort was too slow to make Santa Anita's official work tab, which has a cutoff time of :39 4/5 for that distance. With Gary Stevens in the irons, the son of Uncle Mo   was timed in :41 3/5.

"He didn't go too fast, but it's no big deal," said trainer John Shirreffs. "Gary wanted to work him to become more familiar with him. Normally I'd put my exercise rider on him, but this is something Gary likes to do."

Qualifying points for the Run for the Roses could be an issue, however, for Royal Mo. With 30, he ranks 24th, with 20 available spots in the gate. Prior to the Santa Anita Derby, Royal Mo won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) Feb. 4 and finished ninth in the March 18 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park.

"The points are out of our control, but we'll keep training him with the Kentucky Derby in mind and try to stay on course," Shirreffs said.

Shirreff's other Kentucky Derby candidate, Santa Anita Derby winner Gormley, worked three furlongs April 15 in :37 4/5. He is secure in qualifying points with 125, third behind Girvin (150) and Classic Empire (132).

Battle of Midway, with 40 points, is tied at 17th with four other horses. A son of Smart Strike owned by Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm, Battle of Midway went four furlongs in :48 2/5 under Edgar Rodriguez for Jerry Hollendorfer, who called it "a maintenance work." The colt previously finished third in the Feb. 12 San Vicente Stakes (G2) before winning a March 9 optional-claiming allowance over the highly regarded Reach the World at Santa Anita.

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