Mo Forza gives Paco Lopez a graded stakes triple by winning Hollywood Derby
DEL MAR, Calif. – The turf festival on Saturday at Del Mar turned into the Paco Lopez festival.
Lopez won three of the day’s four graded stakes, and capped off the day by winning the biggest of them all, the Grade 1, $302,457 Hollywood Derby with the ascendant Mo Forza.
Mo Forza ($7.60), the favorite, got a ground-saving trip under Lopez until the top of the lane, when they came around a stubborn Neptune’s Storm, who wouldn’t go down without a fight. Mo Forza won by three-quarters of a length, with Standard Deviation running on strongly for third, another half-length back.
Digital Age was fourth, then came, in order, Succeedandsurpass, Originaire, Proud Pedro, Henley’s Joy, Nolde, Mr Dumas, Moody Jim, and Uncle Bull. Kingly was scratched earlier in the day.
Mo Forza ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:48.57 while earning his third straight victory, with his most recent win in the Grade 2 Twilight Derby at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.
Lopez earlier in the day won both the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante for 2-year-old fillies with Alms and the Grade 3 Red Carpet for females with the longshot Zuzanna. His only stakes loss came in the Seabiscuit, in which he finished sixth on Om.
Both Om and Mo Forza are trained by Peter Miller, with whom Lopez has had outsized success over the years, most notably winning the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Sprint aboard Roy H.
“I’m very lucky with him,” Lopez said.
Mo Forza has come a long ways in a short amount of time. He only made his debut on June 2, but in less than six months has made eight starts and gone from an unstarted maiden to a Grade 1 winner.
“It’s just taken a little time for him to put it all together,” Miller said. “He had it in him. He’s a gorgeous horse – by Uncle Mo – sound, great mind. Just a matter of maturity.”
Mo Forza did not win for the first time until his sixth try, but he’s gone right up the ladder. He won the Twilight Derby at 18-1 in such a convincing fashion that he was favored this time.
Mo Forza was bred by the Bardy Farm of former trainer Barry Abrams and his wife, Dyan, and is owned by Bardy and the OG Boss stable of Onofrio Pecoreio.