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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Silence Can be a Virtue

Every single year there is an owner or a trainer that just can’t help but trash talk the competition and this year it is Robert LaPenta. In an interview this morning LaPenta made it quite clear how bitter he is over the lack of respect Dialed In has received compared to the heaps that, apparently, Uncle Mo has been receiving. In case LaPenta hasn’t noticed his colt has quite a few followers who believe the colt will circle the field to take the Kentucky Derby by storm. In case he hasn’t noticed, Uncle Mo has lost plenty of his followers since his 3rd place finish in the Juvenile, even though he was battling a GI infection that day.

I understand wanting more respect for your horse but bad mouthing the competition is not the way to get it. In fact, it makes you look even worse.  LaPenta was quoted comparing his champion 2yr old champion War Pass to Uncle Mo, saying that War Pass was more accomplished when he began on the Derby trail, yet people called his colt a one dimensional speedster who would not get the distance. Mr. LaPenta, War Pass ran over a very speed favoring track in his Breeders Cup Juvenile in 1.42.76. Uncle Mo ran over a very deep and tiring Churchill Downs main track, rating off the lead, something War Pass never succeeded at, and ran a final time of 1.42.6. Notice that even Rachel Alexandra and Unrivaled Belle ran slower earlier that year for the same distance. In the Champagne Uncle Mo nearly broke the track record, while War Pass came home nearly two whole seconds slower. As a 3yr old War Pass ran LAST in his first prep, and second in the Wood Memorial. The winning time in his running of the Wood was nearly two seconds slower again.

LaPenta, in the same quote, then notes Uncle Mo’s breeding. If he wants to bring up breeding why not bring up War Pass again? He had a sire who was even more sprint oriented than Indian Charlie, Uncle Mo’s sire. Cherokee Run never won anything past 9 furlongs and never placed in anything over 9.5 furlongs. Even in the Preakness the time was a slow 1.56.6 that year. Indian Charlie dominated the Santa Anita Derby and ran third in the Kentucky Derby. He sired Fleet Indian, who won at 10 furlongs as a 4yr old. On the bottom of Uncle Mo’s pedigree is Arch, who is the sire of Archarcharch and Blame, who won last year’s Breeder’s Cup Classic. Arch also carries the line of Kris S. who was in the pedigrees of Rock Hard Ten and Zenyatta. Look a little farther back and you’ll find Princquillo, who gave Secretariat his stamina.

LaPenta is also quoted saying that there are double standards in regards to Uncle Mo’s work, stating that had that been Dialed In, his colt would’ve gotten trashed. Mr. LaPenta seems to not realize that Churchill Downs can be a very sticky track when wet, and that most people were expecting average to slower clockings. He notes that people rave over the Timely Writer yet trashed Dialed in for losing to older horse. That allowance race was against nondescript older males who nobody had ever heard of, and even in knowing that, plenty of people still backed the colt, saying it was just a prep and a learning race. When Uncle Mo ran in the Timely Writer he ran a final quarter of 22 4/5. I would love to see what other 3yr old ran that fast of a final quarter in any of their preps this year.

Are these comments horrible? No, maybe childish, however it is not these that really grated on my nerves. It was LaPenta coming just short of accusing Pletcher and Repole of running an unsound colt. “I’ve been a little concerned about Uncle Mo. I felt there was something a little amiss in the way he was training for some reason. No one would document it, but he didn’t seem the same horse at three as he was at two.” Has he been there watching Uncle Mo every single morning? Is he conversing on a regular basis with Pletcher or Repole? Where do assumptions that something is amiss come from? LaPenta should remember the good old saying “assuming makes an ass out of you and me,” and if the assumptions are unfounded it makes the one making them look even worse.

If LaPenta wants respect for his horse then rave about him, talk him up, be proud. That is all fine and well. However, it becomes a whole new ballgame when you start trying to talk down the competition to try and gain respect. It shows just how desperate for attention a person really is. It shows weakness, not strength, and that is not something the industry needs.


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Older Comments about Silence Can be a Virtue...

I agree with Robert! The tom-toms through the Derby Prep season were constantly beating for the "star", Uncle Mo. While Dialed In was quietly going about winning two very important races, and he sat perched near the top, yet nary a word was made about him, not at all. I don't blame LaPenta for being a little ticked....I was ticked and I don't have any ownership concerns. Also, Repole (who I like a lot, BTW), came out and said that Mo will be the "Favorite" in the Derby because he will bring enough money to the track to make it happen! If that isn't throwing down the gauntlet, I don't know what is!!!
  • DeadHeat · So what your saying is that your ok with being a sour crybaby? Ok, whatever floats your boat. · 2362 days ago
I agree he shouldn't be trashing a horse. No need for that. I big part of me will be pulling for Dialed In as, like many, I loved his maiden and kept watch ever since. I also spent time with him yesterday and he looks phenomenal. Seemed very relaxed with all the backside commotion. I am concerned that with The Factor out, the pace won't be as hot as it would have been to help him out. it will be hot because it's the Derby, but not as blazing now.
By saying that he started that? I'm sorry but saying a horse should have won a race is not bashing in the least, and did not validate that type of retaliation in the least. Many people feel DI should have won that race, prep or not, including me. He was the only graded stakes winner in the field and towered over the other horses. Now that I say that should I be crucified?
Repole started it by saying dialed in should have won the alw race at 1 to 9.. I wish repole knew that was just a little prep
I agree, it makes you not want to back his horse. As a matter of fact, there are quite a few 'racing debates' that revolve around bashing another horse and it drives me crazy...I won't mention anyone in particular.
1 Ric Dutrow in this sport is enough. If he doesn't have anything positive to say, I agree, zip it. Excelent piece, keep up the good work.
Brian, you know I just hold so much inside...it's like pulling teeth to get me to get to the point ;)
Don't hold any punches, Dani ... tell us what you really think ;-)
Agree. LaPenta, go home and get your shine box!

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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