Royal Mo kept moving forward while making his stakes and 3-year-old bow in the February 4 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita, leading all the way in a 3 ½-length decision. But he must run faster to defeat better competition after generating a career-best 95 BRIS Speed rating.
Previously seen breaking his maiden at Del Mar in late November, Royal Mo shares the same connections (owner Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss, trainer John Shirreffs & jockey Victor Espinoza) as Gormley, who currently sits third on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 20 points after victories in last fall’s FrontRunner (G1) and January 7 Sham (G3).
It’s the same owner/trainer combination as 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo and Hall of Famer Zenyatta, and Espinoza is a three-time Kentucky Derby winner.
Royal Mo has room for further improvement, but he didn’t appear to beat much in the Lewis and his BRIS Speed figures pale in comparison to Gormley, who registered a 102 defeating well-regarded American Anthem in the Sham. At the present time, Royal Mo rates as the second-stringer in the barn.
The Lewis, which rewarded points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers, was offered on the same afternoon as the Holy Bull (G2) and Withers (G3), a pair of Kentucky Derby qualifiers at Gulfstream and Aqueduct. By comparison, Holy Bull winner Irish War Cry produced a 102 BRIS Speed rating and Withers victor El Areeb earned a 99.
Royal Mo has ground to make up in order to be considered a serious Kentucky Derby win contender.