To the cheers of his many fans in Belmont
Park’s grandstand, heavily favored Uncle Mo returned to the
winner’s circle on Saturday afternoon with a rousing three-length victory
over Jackson Bend in the Grade 2, $200,000 Kelso Handicap.
Grabbing the lead right out of the gate under jockey John Velazquez,
the 3-year-old Indian Charlie colt went through a comfortable opening
quarter-mile in 23.47 seconds, then sped things up as the half went in 46.03.
Still in front on the turn but faced with a serious challenge from Jackson
Bend, who tried to draw alongside approaching the quarter-pole, Uncle Mo
dug in when asked and pulled clear through the lane to hit the wire in 1:33.82.
“When Jackson Bend came alongside him, I’m sure if we
stopped the race right there and asked all you guys who was going to win the
race, I don’t think too many would have said Uncle Mo,” said
winning owner Mike Repole. “Johnny just looked, Mo found another gear,
and Mo took off. That’s what makes him so special. He can go six
furlongs, he can go 1 ½ miles. He’s not only brilliant and not only fast,
he’s got the mind to go with it. Getting Mo back in the winner’s
circle is so special.”
The victory was the first for the 2010 juvenile champion since he took
the Timely Writer at Gulfstream
Park in March, after
which he suffered his first loss when third in the Grade 1 Resorts World New
York Casino Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack. Knocked out of the Triple
Crown with a liver disorder, Uncle
Mo returned to the races more
than four months later and finished second by a nose in the Grade 1 Foxwoods
King’s Bishop at Saratoga Race Course on August 27.
“He had trained so brilliantly since the King’s
Bishop,” said Uncle Mo’s trainer, Todd Pletcher. “It
was a sensational effort. I’m happy for the horse that he was able to get
back to where he was last year. That was Uncle
Mo at his best again. I think
there’s more to come, I really do.”
Sent off as the 3-5 favorite in his first effort against older horses, Uncle Mo
returned $3.20 for a $2 win bet. With a record of 5-1-1 from seven starts, the
bay colt has now earned $1,606,000.
Jackson Bend, the second choice coming off his victory in the Grade 1
Forego at Saratoga, was eight lengths clear of 2010 Grade 1 Cigar Mile winner
Jersey Town, with Golddigger’s Boy completing the order of finish.
Sangaree was scratched.
Although the Kelso was a “Win and You’re In” race,
with a guaranteed berth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs
in November, Repole indicated he would rather run Uncle Mo in
the 1 ¼-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic. Last year, Uncle Mo won
the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs to clinch the divisional
“I love the Classic,” said Repole. “In my opinion, if
you run Uncle Mo in the Sprint, he’s the favorite.
If you run Uncle Mo in the Dirt Mile, he’s the
favorite. If you run him in the Classic, he’s probably going to be the
favorite. I want to win the Classic. If Mo was in the Mile and won,
and Stay Thirsty was in the Classic and finished third, it would be a
decision I would regret for the rest of my life. Why not take two shots at a
race everybody wants to win?”