Zipse’s Kentucky Derby Daily – Day 59
Is it fair
to be comparing a horse who has made only three lifetime starts to one of the
greatest horses in racing history? Probably not, but I am willing to go out on
a limb and compare what I have seen from Uncle Mo so far in his career to
Seattle Slew at the same stage of his career. The similarities are rather striking, both
colts ran three times as juveniles and dominated their competition early on before
coasting home with ease in each start. Neither colt left any doubt as to their
superiority over the rest, and were clear early favorites for the Kentucky
Derby, despite a few questions about their breeding and their ability to
handle the distance. Both colts were rested until the second week of March
before making their long waited three-year-old debuts. Let’s take a closer look
at Uncle Mo and Seattle Slew side by side.
Slew made his first start as a 5-2 favorite in a full field at Belmont Park on
September 20. Showing strong speed from his outside post, Slew took it to his
competition early, and poured it on down the lane to win going away by 5
lengths. Final time for the 6f maiden was 1:10 1/5.
Uncle Mo made
his first start as a 9-10 favorite in a full field at Saratoga on August 28.
Showing strong speed from the inside, Mo took it to his competition early, and
poured it on down the lane to win going away by 14 1/4 lengths. Final time for
the 6f maiden was 1:09 1/5.
Slew’s second start came in a 7f allowance on October 5, where he was installed
as the 2-5 favorite. Slew took an early lead in strong fractions and was never
really asked by rider Jean Cruget on his way to a 3 ½ length victory. Final
time for the 7f race at Belmont was 1:22.
Uncle Mo’s second
start came in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes on October 9, where he was installed
as the 1-5 favorite. Mo took an early pressured lead in strong fractions, put
away his competition easily, and was hand ridden to the wire by rider John
Velazquez for a 4 ¾ length victory. Final time for the 1 mile race at Belmont
was 1:34 2/5.
Slew concluded his juvenile season on October 16 with his best performance.
Sent off as a 13-10 choice in the Champagne Stakes, It looked like Slew’s early
speed would be tested by highly regarded For the Moment on the far turn, but
Slew treated the tougher competition with disdain. Drawing off to win by 9 ¾ lengths,
Slew ran the flat mile in 1:34 2/5.
Uncle Mo concluded
his juvenile season on November 6 with his best performance. Sent off as a
13-10 choice in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, It looked like Mo’s early speed
would be tested by highly regarded Boys at Tosconova on the far turn, but Mo
treated the tougher competition with disdain. Drawing off to win by 4 ¼ lengths,
Mo ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42 3/5.
Slew made his first start at three in a 7f allowance at Hialeah on March 9,
where he made mincemeat of his overmatched competition. Showing that he had
lost nothing over the winter, Slew romped by 9 lengths in the eye-popping time
of 1:20 3/5 as a 1-10 favorite.
Uncle Mo will
also make his three year-old debut in a one-turn race in South Florida. In three
days, on March 12, Mo will also be heavily favored against an overmatched field
in the Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
does Uncle Mo remind me of Seattle Slew in the way he races, but as you can
see, their racing careers have much in common to this point (including identical times in the Champagne). Of course from
here Seattle Slew would impressively win the Flamingo, Wood Memorial, Kentucky
Derby, Preakness, and Belmont to become the only horse ever to sweep the
triple crown while still undefeated. He also returned at four to cement his
immortality with another championship season. In this comparison, Uncle Mo
still has a world yet to prove as he makes his way to the 2011 Kentucky Derby.
Mo end up having a Seattle Slew type of career, with a triple crown win, and thus
be remembered as an all-time great? It has been a long time since the great
American thoroughbreds of the late seventies. Back then triple crowns seemed almost
common. There has been a whole lot of failure since then, so we have all
learned to be skeptical and pessimistic when it comes to the triple crown. It
is easy to say Uncle Mo will fail, with thirty plus years of drought to back it
up, but sooner or later a horse will come along and get it done.
Uncle Mo is
the most impressive young horse I have seen since Spectacular Bid came along in
1978. While Uncle Mo does not remind me of Spectacular Bid, he does remind me
of Seattle Slew. After watching him battle on a fast pace and then romp down
the stretch in the Champagne, I wrote that he is the closest thing to Slew I
have seen in the last 34 years. Things can certainly go wrong between now and
the finish line of the Belmont Stakes, but the truly great ones overcome
adversity. I believe in Uncle Mo until he proves otherwise. Get ready America,
this might be the horse we have all been waiting for.