When A Mo Reay shipped from Fair Grounds to plunder the Feb. 4 Bayakoa (G3) at Oaklawn Park, the obvious follow-up would have been to return for the Azeri (G2) over the same track and trip. But trainer Brad Cox instead hatched a more creative plan: to send the Hunter Valley Farm colorbearer to Santa Anita for the $501,500 Beholder Mile (G1), also on Saturday. The gambit paid off, as A Mo Reay nabbed 9-10 favorite Fun to Dream on her home track.
The Hunter Valley partners were as gracious as they were delighted in the victory. By swerving an exceptional renewal of the Azeri, won in a romp by Secret Oath, A Mo Reay was pocketing a bigger purse – and a coveted Grade 1 laurel for her broodmare resume.
“It was all down to Brad,” Adrian Regan of Hunter Valley said. “He is the master placer when it comes to where we go, and after watching the race in Oaklawn today, I was very happy that we were coming here. Secret Oath looked fantastic today (in the Azeri), but it’s all Brad. We are very lucky to have a man like that with this team… Brad has a great team and they all did a fantastic job.”
Indeed, even the elements might have conspired in support of the plot. The track was rated good after rain on a gray day, and the Uncle Mo filly had shown a predilection for similar going in the off-the-turf Pago Hop S. at Fair Grounds.
“When I saw the rain in the forecast, I was kind of happy,” Hunter Valley’s John Wade said. “She performed well over a (good) track in the Fair Grounds when it was taken off the turf, so we were happy enough.”
The Dec. 31 Pago Hop was her first start since selling to her new owners for $400,000 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky in November. The Bayakoa made it two straight, and she’s now 3-for-3 after the Beholder Mile.
Jockey Flavien Prat ensured that A Mo Reay tailed odds-on Fun to Dream throughout. Bob Baffert’s streaking favorite had won four in a row, and the only way to try to beat her was to stay in touch. Fun to Dream attended front-running stablemate Ganadora through fractions of :23.19 and :47.14 before striking at the six-furlong mark in 1:10.79.
A Mo Reay was still in range, but the favorite’s sudden move briefly caught her flat-footed, and she now had a 1 1/2-length gap to erase in the final furlong. Prat drove the 7.90-1 shot on, A Mo Reay lengthened, and gained ground. Fun to Dream reached for the wire, only to have A Mo Reay outfinish her by a head in 1:36.25. A Mo Reay paid $17.80 for foiling the favorite.
“I told Flavien he was unbelievable on her,” Regan enthused. “I said to John (Wade), coming down the straight, ‘We got a shot!’ …Flavien answered the call; full marks to him, he was great.”
Prat credited Cox’s insight.
“She really dug in when it was time to run, and she was traveling well all the way around,” Prat said. “I watched her pervious race and I talked to Brad, and he was really high on her and really wanted her in this race. He was right.”
Fun to Dream was 2 1/4 lengths clear of another Baffert filly, Midnight Memories, who stayed on for third. Desert Dawn was a creditable fourth off a six-month layoff, followed by Kirstenbosch; Awake at Midnyte; Pauline’s Pearl, a Fair Grounds shipper for Steve Asmussen who had a similar idea about the opportunity here; and Ganadora.
A Mo Reay boosted her bankroll to $692,650 from a record of 12-5-1-3. Ironically, the dark bay first raced for Spendthrift Farm and its affiliated My Racehorse Stable. Spendthrift campaigned race honoree Beholder, and the farm’s owner, Eric Gustavson, presented the trophy to A Mo Reay’s new connections.
Purchased by Spendthrift and MyRacehorse.com for $400,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, A Mo Reay was a terrific third in her unveiling at Saratoga. Then-trainer Todd Pletcher accordingly ran her as a maiden in the 2021 Frizette (G1), where she placed a distant third to champion Echo Zulu.
A Mo Reay later won twice around a one-turn mile, at Aqueduct and Laurel. She tried a couple of turf stakes in her final starts for Pletcher, notably finishing third in the Riskaverse S. to the Chad Brown duo of Gina Romantica and Faith in Humanity. A Mo Reay was then fifth in the Pebbles (G3) to the same two, who swapped spots in the exacta. The form turned out pretty well; Gina Romantica would capture the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1), and Faith in Humanity just landed the March 4 Honey Fox (G3).
Bred by T & G Farm of Kentucky, A Mo Reay is out of the Grade 3-placed Pioneerof the Nile mare Margaret Reay. The cleverly-named four-year-old comes from the further family of Grade 1 scorer Wonder Lady Anne L, whom she has now emulated at the top level.
“It is the first (Grade 1) in our colors, so it’s special,” Regan summed up. “It is just great for the farm – Fergus (Galvin), Tony (Hegarty), everybody at home. It is just unbelievable really.”