This week Scott Dick, of Hoosier State of Mind , teams up with Joe DePaolo, of Fast Times at Belmont Park, to ask the Uncle Mo question ... Use 'Em? Or Lose' Em?
Joe DePaolo: First we’ll look at Uncle Mo’s performance in the Wood Memorial. The Wood was supposed to be just a stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby. Uncle Mo was alone on the lead, but, the fractions were solid. Mo seemed to have no excuse as he entered the stretch, tiring badly while getting passed by eventual winner Toby’s Corner. After this race Uncle Mo was diagnosed with a liver disorder, this disorder would erase any chance of him winning the Kentucky Derby, as he was sidelined for months. What was your opinion on the race at the time?
Scott Dick: At the time it was very disappointing. The fractions weren’t that fast and he seemed to just quit running. After finding out about the disorder it made perfect sense to me. If you look at Mo’s past performances, at the time he was unbeaten and even since then, he hasn’t finished worse than second.
JD: When you examine Uncle Mo in the context of the Classic, is the Wood a complete throw out? There aren’t many route races to judge Uncle Mo on. The Wood was the furthest he ever raced and it was his worst performance, is it a complete throw out? Is there anything to be gained from examining the Wood Memorial in retrospect?
SD: I believe it’s a complete toss. If you go back to last year and examine Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, on a weekend where you had Blame vs Zenyatta, Goldikova’s three-peat, I believe Uncle Mo was the most impressive, albeit the Juvenile was only 8.5 furlongs.
JD: After Uncle Mo was sidelined with that awful liver disorder, he finally got healthy again. Mo made his return in the grade I Kings Bishop. The Kings Bishop has been a perennial race for extremely talented 3-year-old sprinters. What did you think about the idea of bringing Mo back in such a contentious race?
SD: I thought it was an extremely tough spot. We’re talking about a grade I race against the best 3 year old sprinters in the nation. I keep using the word “extremely”, but, I feel it was quite extreme to ask Uncle Mo to come back after the illness in such tough race.
JD: Am I alone in thinking the Kings Bishop was actually Uncle Mo’s best performance this year?
SD: No, I totally agree with you. Uncle Mo was right on the pace, the fractions were incredibly fast. He just got nipped at the wire by Caleb’s Posse. I’m not even sure Mo ever saw Caleb’s Posse, who made that big outside close.
JD: Uncle Mo gave us a hint in the Kings Bishop that he can rate. With all the speed projected in the Classic. Do you think Uncle Mo should rate?
SD: He definitely is going to need to rate. If he is on the lead, with a lot of pressure, I’m afraid he’ll get tired in that last furlong.
JD: Uncle Mo made his last start in the Kelso. He achieved the 2nd highest Beyer speed figure in North America. (118) The Kelso was only a 4 horse field and the race set up perfect for him. Even with all those dynamics in his favor, this race was without question huge.
SD: I thought it was a dynamite performance. The early fractions weren’t exactly blazing fast, but, he went 1:09 for six furlongs and his final time of 1:33.4 for the mile was super impressive. Jackson Bend who is a grade I winning sprinter made that menacing move at Mo, Mo just swatted him away like a Fly.
JD: The key question regarding the Classic for Uncle Mo is pedigree and ability to get the distance. We know Uncle Mo is extremely talented, but, he’s only raced twice in true route races. What in Uncle Mo’s pedigree would make you believe that he will get the Classic distance? Or what in his pedigree would make you think he wouldn’t?
SD: Uncle Mo has an interesting pedigree. Indian Charlie is most known for having talented sprinters, but, he is the sire of Champion filly Fleet Indian. Fleet Indian won twice in graded stakes races at 10 furlongs. The dam of Mo is Playa Maya, who is sired by Arch. Arch, of course, is the sire of last year’s Classic winner Blame. Uncle Mo’s pedigree does not worry me, the foundation worries me. He’s coming into the biggest and longest race of his life off of two one turn races. That’s a lot to ask.
JD: So, Use 'Em or Lose 'Em?
SD: Believe it or not, I’m going to use him. I think he’s finally learning to relax. The fact he loves Churchill is also a plus, as I said before, his performance in the Juvenile last year was so impressive. I’m not sure Mo will be my top selection, but he will be on most of my tickets.
JD: I will be using Uncle Mo defensively. He will not be my top selection. But, I can’t play a multi-race wager without having him on my ticket. I’ve heard you say this before, and I agree. “Uncle Mo walks into the gate as the most talented horse in the field.”
Honor of Tim (Tiznow) Reynolds, you changed all of are lives for the
better and you'll be with us always. Donations can be made to the Timothy (Tiznow) Reynolds Memorial Fund. A memorial fund for his daughter, Lauren Reynolds.