I'm beginning to think New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has a better chance of winning the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of May than Super Bowl LI on the first Sunday of February 2017.
My reasoning is simple: Have you seen the Saints play the past few years? Have you seen Mo Tom run in his last two races?
Mo Tom, a talented 3-year-old colt from the GMB Racing Stables owned by Tom and Gayle Benson and trained by Tom Amoss, could make some noise in this year's Triple Crown. The operative word here is "could." But I'm betting that he runs in the first leg and then it's up to GMB, an acronym for Gayle Marie Benson, where to go from there.
Mo Tom currently stands fourth in the Kentucky Derby standings with 22 points after finishing third in Saturday's Grade II Risen Star Stakes and winning the Grade III Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 16.
Mo Tom had an unlucky trip in the Risen Star, running into trouble in the upper stretch of the mile and 16th race when a horse drifted into his path. But Mo Tom swung wide and closed strong to finish third behind Gun Runner and Forevamo. Mo Tom will head into the Grade II Louisiana Derby on March 26 at the Fair Grounds hoping to secure a spot in the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs.
Another Benson horse in the GMB Racing Stables also has Derby aspirations. Tom's Ready (a 3-year-old colt trained by New Orleans-based Dallas Stewart) finished second in the Lecomte Stakes and seventh in the Risen Star and currently stands 26th in the point standings with four.
Look for Mo Tom to run in the Louisiana Derby, which offers 170 Derby qualifying points (100-40-20-10). Not as definitive for Tom's Ready. The Benson connections are considering several Derby prep races for TR, including the Louisiana Derby, Spiral (April 2, Turfway Park) and Blue Grass (April 9, Keeneland), among others.
Mo Tom, a $150,000 auction purchase, now stands 3-0-3-0 in six races (two firsts and two two thirds in stakes races) with $289,000 in winnings. Tom's Ready is 1-3-0-0 in eight races (two seconds in stakes races) with $108,000 in winnings.
It would be fun to have a rooting interest this spring, just as it was in 1988 when Risen Star, the son of Triple Crown-winner Secretariat and owned by New Orleanians Ronnie Lamarque and Louie Roussel III, electrified the horse racing world with wins in the Preakness Stakes and Belmont after placing third in the Kentucky Derby.
Twenty-eight years later, maybe Mo Tom could make it to Churchill Downs for the annual "Run for the Roses" and, who knows, make Tom Benson the first NFL owner to lay claim to a Lombardi Trophy and the Kentucky Derby Trophy.
But first things first.
Let's not place the cart before the horse. Mo Tom still has mo' work to do.
Brian Allee-Walsh, a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.