It was a happy Sunday in Todd Pletcher’s Belmont Park barn
following Uncle Mo’s impressive 4 ¾-length victory in Saturday’s Grade
1, $300,000 Champagne Stakes and the trainer reported that Repole Stable’s
juvenile star emerged from the race in good shape.
“He came out of it well, looked good this morning and the
plan is to go to the Breeders’ Cup assuming that he trains the way we expect
him to between now and then,” Pletcher said.
Uncle Mo, a son of Indian Charlie, completed the one-mile
Champagne in 1:34.51, tying him with 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew for
the second-fastest renewal at the distance, just a fifth of a second slower than Devil's Bag's 1983 stakes record of 1:34 1/5. As impressed as he was by the race itself, Pletcher was also pleased with the way the colt handled himself afterwards.
“He was remarkably composed in the winner’s circle – there
was quite a commotion going on in there, but he was completely laid back and
honestly wasn’t even blowing that hard,” the trainer noted.
entered the Champagne
off a 14 ¼-length maiden victory at Saratoga Race Course on Travers Day, August
28, and so far strikes Pletcher as unlike any other juvenile he’s trained.
“We’ve been blessed with some really good two year olds over
the years, but I can’t remember one being that impressive,” Pletcher recalled.
“We’ve had some that started the year really impressively – horses like More
Than Ready and Chapel Royal – that were exceptionally early in the year. For
him, [going from a maiden win] at Saratoga on
Travers day to the Champagne,
we’ve never had a 2-year-old to win those types of races as impressively as he
More Than Ready broke his maiden at Keeneland in April 1999
and stepped up steadily through the summer, winning the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga in late July before finishing third in the Grade
1 Futurity and fifth in the Champagne
that fall. Chapel Royal, a 9 ¼-length maiden winner at Belmont
in May of 2003, won back-to-back graded stakes in New York
after breaking his maiden and finished second in both the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga and the Champagne.
Pletcher added that his quartet of Frizette starters all
emerged from the race in good order and that R Heat Lightning passed her
audition for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs on November
5 with her determined effort for second, while Valiant Passion and Tap
for Luck, fourth and fifth, and Maple Forest, seventh, would
“I thought that R Heat Lightning ran a remarkably good race
yesterday considering the trip that she encountered,” Pletcher said of the
filly, who won the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga
on September 5. “I like the way she finished and galloped out well, so she
deserves a chance in the Breeders’ Cup as well, assuming that she trains accordingly.
The other ones we’ll kind of adjust and go in different directions with.”