In his first stakes try, Mo Town soared past favored Takaful in early stretch and was not seriously threatened late to post a 2 1/2-length victory in the $300,000 Remsen Stakes (gr. II) Nov. 26 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Campaigned by Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Team D, Mo Town and jockey John Velazquez completed the 1 1/8-mile race for 2-year-olds in 1:51.58.
Mo Town entered Saturday's test off a seven-length victory in a one-mile maiden race Sept. 24 at Belmont Park. That easy victory on a muddy track followed a debut, in which the son of leading second-crop sire Uncle Mo finished second in a six-furlong maiden race Aug. 27 at Saratoga Race Course.
"Going back to March, we always felt this was a good horse," said winning trainer Tony Dutrow. "Being around him, knowing all we do about how he went into each of his races, I felt strongly that he would run big today. For him to prove this much, I feel great.
"I wanted the horse fresh and happy going into his 3-year-old year. I didn't use this horse. I didn't pressure this horse in getting him ready for today. I feel strongly that we have not seen what this horse is capable of yet."
Stretching out to two turns for the first time Saturday proved to Mo Town's liking. After Shadwell Stable's Takaful seized the early advantage under Jose Ortiz and opened a three-length lead through a quarter-mile in : 23.47, Mo Town, who had raced three wide in the first turn, and jockey John Velazquez moved closer to Takaful through a half-mile in :48.84. Mo Town stayed close through the far turn and after six furlongs in 1:14.02, he took command and quickly opened a clear advantage.
No Dozing, who attempted a four-wide rally in the far turn, sustained that move to to the wire to finish second, but did not threaten the winner. Takaful held third.
"He was very good. He got carried wide into the first turn, and after that, I had to do the dirty job with the horse in front," Velazquez said. "After that, he did everything well. Hopefully he can come back better as a 3-year-old."
Mo Town paid $10.40, $5.50, and $2.80 across the board, while No Dozing returned $5.30 to place and $2.90 to show. Takaful held third, paying $2.20 to show. Win With Pride finished fourth.
The Remsen is a Kentucky Derby Championship Series “prep season” race, awarding 10 points to the winner, four to second, two to third, and one to fourth. The points are used to determine the Derby field, should more than 20 horses be entered.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Takaful raced well in just his second start, first stakes try, and first attempt at two turns.
"The break didn't help us and it looked like he was pretty keen the first eighth after the break, but he dug in and held on for third," McLaughlin said of the son of Bernardini . "It was a big step up from 6 1/2 (furlongs) to a mile and an eighth. We'll regroup and probably head south from here."
Bred in Kentucky by John Gunther and Eurowest Bloodstock, Mo Town is the first starter out of the winning Bernardini mare Grazie Mille. Mo Town’s second dam is grade III winner Molto Vita, by Carson City.
The Coolmore-associated ownership team landed Mo Town for $200,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale, with Team D signing the ticket. Mo Town was consigned to that sale by Glennwood Farm, agent. Uncle Mo stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky.
Dutrow said he will take Mo Town to Florida but wouldn't mind a return trip to New York.
"He's going to go Payson (Park Training Center) and he'll have a very light December; next to nothing," Dutrow said. "I'll talk to the (owners) about what they are thinking, but if I owned the whole horse, I'd bring him up here for the Gotham. I'll talk to them about that and see how they feel."