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Stay Thirsty Ready for Gotham

Owner Mike Repole will be well-represented in Aqueduct’s graded Triple Crown preps as the native of Queens plans to send out Stay Thirsty in the Grade 3, $250,000 Gotham at 1 1/16 miles on March 5 and last year’s Champion Two-Year-Old Uncle Mo in the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial at 1 1/8 miles on April 9.


“I’ve been watching the Gotham and the Wood for years, and I want to run horses where my friends and family can come out and cheer,” said Repole, who races under the Repole Stable banner.


The two colts, both currently with trainer Todd Pletcher’s string at Palm Meadows in Florida, will work in company on Sunday, according to Repole.


“Todd and I will talk on Sunday or Monday, but we’re leaning 95 percent in the direction of the Gotham with Stay Thirsty,” said Repole. “It’s a little bit of a haul, but I love racing in New York and I like supporting New York racing. Even if Stay Thirsty wins by 10 lengths, his next race probably won’t be in New York because we plan to have Uncle Mo in the Wood.”


After breaking his maiden by 5 ½ lengths at Saratoga in his second start, Stay Thirsty was second to Boys At Tosconova in the Grade 1 Three Chimneys Hopeful on Labor Day and fifth in November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, a race Uncle Mo won by 4 ¼ lengths.


“Stay Thirsty has $110,000 in graded earnings, so he’ll need to win or finish second or third in his next two starts,” noted Repole. “The Gotham is a race that will be competitive, but we expect to be one of the favorites. Ramon Dominguez will ride him.”


Uncle Mo will most likely prep for the Wood Memorial in the one-mile Timely Writer at Gulfstream Park on March 12, Repole said.


On the Gotham undercard, Repole will have at least two and possibly as many as four starters in the Grade 3, $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for older horses.


The owner admits running four horses in a single graded stakes would be unorthodox, but believes the plan would maximize his chances of leaving Aqueduct in possession of the Tom Fool trophy.


“Mike Repole is not a typical owner,” he said. “It took me a while to win a graded stakes, and now that I’ve won three I want to keep winning more.”


Repole said that Calibrachoa, winner of three straight, including the Grade 3 Toboggan on January 22, is definite for the Tom Fool, with Have You Ever, sixth in a February 11 optional claimer in his first start since being claimed by Repole, probable for the race. Driven by Solar and Driven by Success, who competed in separate races on Monday, could also join the field.


“I’ll guarantee that I’m running two horses and that Calibrachoa is going in the race,” said Repole. “Right now Have You Ever has the edge [as the second starter], but that’s only because Driven by Solar [fourth against New York-breds in the Hollie Hughes] and Driven by Success [fifth in the Grade 2 General George Handicap at Laurel Park] just ran. We’ll see how they come out of their races. A race like this is wide open, and I have a lot of bullets.”


*          *          *


Toby’s Corner, winner of the $100,000 1 1/16-mile Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct on February 5, worked an easy five furlongs (1:02.40) at Fair Hill Training Center as he prepares for his expected next start in the Gotham Stakes.


“The work was good, very routine,” said Graham Motion, who trains the son of Bellamy Road for Dianne Cotter. “I actually moved it up a bit because of the bad weather, but I had only planned on giving him one work between races and everything has gone smoothly. He’s doing super.”


Toby’s Corner looks for his fourth consecutive victory in the Gotham, having taken a first-level optional claimer and maiden race at Laurel prior to the Whirlaway.


“I was a little concerned at the eighth pole [in the Whirlaway] because it looked for a second like he might wait on horses, but once Eddie [Castro] got him straightened away he went on and won kind of comfortably.”




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