MO FORZA & NEPTUNE’S STORM HEAD SATURDAY’S GRADE II, $200,000 MATHIS BROTHERS MILE (TURF), WHICH HAS ATTRACTED A FIELD OF 11 SOPHOMORESMATHIS IS ONE OF SIX GRADED STAKES ON POWERFUL OPENING DAY CARD SATURDAY, FIRST POST TIME IS SET FOR 11 A.M.ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 23, 2019)–Bred and owned in-part by former trainer Barry Abrams, Mo Forza, a Kentucky-bred colt by Uncle Mo out of the Unusual Heat mare Inflamed, looms the horse to beat in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile (turf) at Santa Anita.The Mathis Brothers Mile, which has attracted a field of 11 three-year-olds, also includes the Richard Baltas-trained Neptune’s Storm, who has been narrowly defeated by the top choice in his last two starts, Zayat Stables’ nearly unbeaten Bob and Jackie and trainer Leonard Powell’s French-bred Proud Pedro.MO FORZAOwner: Bardy Farm & OG BossTrainer: Peter MillerWith all eight of his lifetime starts coming on grass, Mo Forza broke his maiden at a mile on turf here three starts back on Sept. 29. Off at 18-1 in the Grade II Twilight Derby going 1 1/8 miles on turf Nov. 2, he pressed the pace and prevailed by 1 ¾ lengths. The 5-2 favorite in the Grade I Hollywood Derby at Del Mar Nov. 30, he kept Neptune’s Storm at bay late to win by three quarters of length and is thus strictly the horse to beat on Saturday.NEPTUNE’S STORMOwner: CYBT, Gevertz, Gitomer, et alTrainer: Richard BaltasIn what has been an incredible year, this Kentucky-bred colt by Stormy Atlantic has never been off the board in 10 starts, winning four, while second or third three times each. A three quarter length winner going 1 1/8 miles on turf three starts back in the Grade II Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont Park Oct. 5, he was third beaten two lengths by Mo Forza in the Grade II Twilight Derby and nearly scored in gate to wire fashion while second to “Mo” in the Grade I Hollywood Derby.THE GRADE II MATHIS BROTHERS MILE WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDERRace 10 of 11 Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PTSash–Drayden Van Dyke–120Originaire–Umberto Rispoli–120Ocean Fury–Flavien Prat–120Never Easy–Rafael Bejarano–120Mo Forza–Joel Rosario–124Neptune’s Storm–Abel Cedillo–124Kingly–Mario Gutierrez–122Proud Pedro–Tyler Baze–120Barristan The Bold–Javier Castellano–120Loafers Boy–Tiago Pereira–120Bob and Jackie–Heriberto Figueroa–122Special early first post time for an 11-race card on Saturday is at 11 a.m. Admission gates will open at 9 a.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
4. Keeping Manchester United afloat this season – read all about it, then click the arrow above to see three more things Van Gaal deserves credit for – The pressure on Van Gaal this term has been intense. For weeks, reports persistently claimed United were prepared to ditch the Dutchman and bring in sacked Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. Theres no question this will have been a difficult time, personally, for Uniteds manager. While some cracks have shown, however, he hasnt melted under the heat. Instead, the Red Devils have stayed within touching distance of the top four and now, after victory over rivals City, they are just one point off the Premier Leagues elite bracket. For now, they could also win silverware, in the shape of the FA Cup, which is more than can be said for Chelsea or Arsenal. 4 4 4 3. Luring major names to Old Trafford, even if they haven’t been successful – Angel Di Maria, Victor Valdes and Radamel Falcao didnt deliver at Old Trafford, but there is absolutely no guarantee players from overseas will adapt to life in England. Brushing their influence or rather, lack thereof aside, whats most important is Van Gaal hasnt struggled to lure such distinguished names to Manchester. Despite their failure, the former Netherlands manager, a year later, signed Bastian Schweinsteiger and Anthony Martial. Van Gaal is clearly respected across Europe and hasnt deterred players from joining his squad. 4 2. Keeping hold of De Gea – United may be a little fortunate given his move to Real Madrid fell through due to paperwork issues, but this shouldnt overshadow the role that Van Gaal will have had in seeing the goalkeeper commit his future to the club. Such is his temperament, many may have been expecting the Spaniard to be frozen out at Old Trafford; yet the former Netherlands manager handled the situation well, bringing the stopper back into the side only once his future had been decided. And again, De Gea has been one of the Red Devils most consistent performers. 1. His commitment to the academy – While many criticise Van Gaal for falling behind in the Premier League and struggling in Europe, if theres one thing he really deserves credit for, its his desire to nurture young blood at the club. Rather than play senior players out of position when others have suffered injured, the Dutchman has trusted those from his academy to make the step up. Marcus Rashford is currently stealing the headlines having followed up his brace against Arsenal by scoring the winner at the Etihad. The striker, however, isnt alone in making the breakthrough. Jesse Lingard, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Donald Love are just a few to have been handed their debut by Van Gaal. Would Mourinho have been so trusting? Probably not. Louis van Gaal has come under fire this season.The Manchester United manager has been the subject of intense frustration from the Old Trafford with, at various stages in the campaign, many calling for his head.As April closes in, though, the Dutchman firmly remains in charge of the Premier League giants and it’s looking increasingly likely that he’ll see out the remaining year of his contract.So, the last eight months may not have been too enjoyable for the club’s supporters, but is it time to lay off Van Gaal?Taking this question into consideration, here are four things the 64-year-old deserves credit for – take a look by viewing the slideshow above.