HRN Original Blog:

Win, Place and Mo...An Across-the-Board Disappointment

Wow!  You could hear the collective sigh of relief when all the other connections of potential Kentucky Derby starters watched Uncle Mo get defeated in the Wood by a couple of over achievers.  Some say Velasquez should have just siezed control coming into the stretch and put some distance between Uncle Mo and his nearest rivals.  Do we really believe that would have made a difference?  I don’t think so.  What was all telling to me was picking up the Wood Memorial BRIS Pace and Speed Ratings for Uncle Mo coming out of that race.


Uncle Mo         1st Call = 89;    2nd Call = 97;    Late Pace = 91;    Final = 96


Going back to last year’s HRN Kentucky Derby Super Screener book, let’s compare that line to the final preps for other forwardly placed types that have won the Kentucky Derby:


Silver Charm  1st Call = 108;  2nd Call = 115;  Late Pace = 84;    Final = 102

War Emblem  1st Call = 95;    2nd Call = 105;  Late Pace = 107;   Final = 109

Funnycide      1st Call = 97;    2nd Call = 110;  Late Pace = 106;   Final = 111

Big Brown      1st Call = 107;  2nd Call = 117;  Late Pace = 98;     Final = 110


Yikes!  Not even close.  I can tell you right now that even if Uncle Mo were to improve off that last effort, he would have to do so by at least 10 lengths AND get an extra 1/8th mile while battling the likes of The Factor through grueling fractions.  I just don’t see it.  When this year’s HRN Kentucky Derby Super Screener is published (coming next week!)  I don’t think Uncle Mo will even make the second tier status.  Did he run his lifetime best in the Breeders Cup Juvenile?  Uncle Mo was finally tested in the Wood and lost.


On the other coast, Midnight Interlude fooled a lot of people including me with a surprise victory in the Santa Anita Derby.  With Premier Pegasus and Jaycito, California’s #1 and #2 seeds, respectively, out of the race, this one was reduced to a mediocre prep at best.  I guess none of us should be surprised that a recent Maiden winner popped up to beat a lone lead horse, Comma To The Top, that set very weak fractions and still couldn’t manage to hang on for the win.  Before we get too excited about this one, Joe Vann, winner of the Illinois Derby actually ran a better race than both Midnight Interlude AND Uncle Mo BRIS numbers wise.  And, Joe Vann isn’t even nominated to the Kentucky Derby.


Personally, I think it is great that we are going into the Kentucky Derby with so many question marks.  In addition, I think the winner of the Derby has yet to run his final prep!  Santiva anyone?


Let’s take a look at each of the four weekend preps and determine how the outcomes affected our HRN Derby Prep Quality Ratings:


AqueductG1 Wood Memorial 1 1/8 miles

Winner: Toby’s Corner (RANKED #11 – HRN DERBY CONTENDERS)

Beyer Speed Rating: 94

BRIS Pace/Final Pars:  First Call = 96; Second Call = 107; Final = 107

Actual Pace/Final:         First Call = 89; Second Call = 97 Final = 97

Track Bias: None

Tough Trips: None

Impressive Effort: Toby’s Corner

HRN Pre-Race Grade = B-

HRN Post-Race Grade = B-

Notes: Very disappointing final prep for Uncle Mo.  Yea, he grabbed a quarter but that can’t explain the fact that he set anemic fractions and had no punch.  He’s “human” after all.  Toby’s Corner came back to run a big one.  Second tier Derby contender at this point.



Santa AnitaG1 Santa Anita Derby 1 1/8 miles

Winner: Midnight Interlude (RANKED #3 – HRN DERBY CONTENDERS)

Beyer Speed Rating: 95

BRIS Pace/Final Pars:  First Call = 96; Second Call = 107; Final = 107

Actual Pace/Final:         First Call = 84; Second Call = 88;  Final = 98

Track Bias: None

Tough Trips: Indian Winter (his own worst enemy)

Impressive Effort: Midnight Interlude

HRN Pre-Race Grade = B+

HRN Post-Race Grade = C+

Notes: With Premier Pegasus and Jaycito out of the race, this one came up pretty weak.  It was clear Comma To The Top would have it all his own way and he did setting very slow fractions on the way to a narrow defeat.  Midnight Interlude impressed on two fronts…jumped up from MDN to take down a G1 race and overcame a dawdling pace to display a late turn of foot that impressed.


HawthorneG3 Illinois Derby 1 1/8 miles


Beyer Speed Rating: 93 (

BRIS Pace/Final Pars:  First Call = 92; Second Call = 100; Final = 100

Actual Pace/Final:         First Call = 90; Second Call = 92 Final = 93

Track Bias: None

Tough Trips: None

Impressive Effort: None

HRN Pre-Race Grade = D

HRN Post-Race Grade = D

Notes: Joe Vann isn’t nominated to Derby and Watch Me Go disappointed as the favorite.  Not much else to report on this prep that will have no impact on the Derby outcome.


AqueductG3 Bay Shore Stakes 7 furlongs

Winner: J J’s Lucky Train (RANKED #4 – HRN DERBY CONTENDERS)

Beyer Speed Rating: 97

BRIS Pace/Final Pars:  First Call = 98; Second Call = 107; Final = 104

Actual Pace/Final:         First Call = 91; Second Call = 93;  Final = 100

Track Bias: None

Tough Trips: Justin Phillip

Impressive Effort: J J’s Lucky Train

HRN Pre-Race Grade = D

HRN Post-Race Grade = D+

Notes: I was impressed with J J’s Lucky Train’s performance in this race.  He didn’t get a hot pace yet he really turned it on late to capture a gutsy win.  No Derby impact here but a nice horse to consider for sprints and one-turn mile stakes in the future.



You have to see the amazing offer that DISH is offering to Horse Racing Nation fans.  Check out the ad on our home page.  Get 80 tracks in your living room, NOW!  It's like having your own simulcast center without ever leaving your house ! Incredible!!!  Don’t miss all the final Derby preps action.


Check back on Friday when we preview the Arkansas Derby and perhaps the new Kentucky Derby favorite The Factor.  In addition, we’ll see if Santiva belongs in the gate come Derby day after his performance in the Blue Grass Stakes.


Coming soon, you’ll get your chance to order this year’s Kentucky Derby Super Screener only from your friends at Horse Racing Nation.






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Older Comments about Win, Place and Mo...An Across-the-Board Disappointment...

Still at the top of my choices...but really want to see Pletcher learn from his mistakes with the soft training. Has to step it up in works to be my final derby choice.
I agree with Brian completely. I do not think other horse have caught up to, he was just a short horse, because Pletcher is trying so hard to not drain him. The horse had 2 half mile works before this race in 4 weeks, one of them was 49.45 seconds. Your telling me that would have a horse ready to run 9 furlongs, over a completley different track that was making it extremely difficult for any horse to wire the field that day? At Gulfstream he could get away with those fractions and spurt way just fine, because Gulfstream is a completely different track. AQ is much slower than Gulfstream and can be more tiring. Before the TW his last 3 works contained 2 five furlongs and one four. His last two had plenty of speed, making sure he was sharp and ready, and he was. He should have been trained that way before the Wood, since that regimine would have helped him get 9 more effectively.
I would agree, Brian, he's better than what we saw. I am really having a difficult time seeing hit the board in the Derby. His running style alone puts him at an historical disadvantage let alone anything short of a top effort in the Wood. I'll wait to see where our Super Screener puts him among the other prep performances.
since his domination in the bc juve, imo, other horses have matured to catch up to his talent, pure and simple.
There's a good chance that the "real" Uncle Mo is a blip of the past and isn't coming back any time soon. He may of been something special but who knows how talented he really was. I just have a good feeling that someone like Baffert would have done a better job managing him then Mr. Pletcher. I also tend to disagree with other’s who have mentioned that his pedigree is the true reason he lost that race. In my opinion I don’t believe this horse would have had any difficulty winning at 1 1/18th , 1 1/4th or even 1 ½ miles. What ultimately led to his lost in the Wood was Todd Pletchers mismanagement. The horse clearly wasn’t fit for the race and I can’t find anyone to blame besides Toddy Boy. Everyone glorifies him as the very best and I’ll admit his stats are quite impressive (Until you look at them with a microscope). What Todd has been so successful at over the years is getting as much out of a horse as possible in the early stages. He does it better then most in the business, however, he tends to drain the horse dry and somehow can’t sustain that talent in the horse going forward. In Uncle Mo’s case I believe some of this did occur but also pure stupidity of waiting 4 months to make a return. There have been rumors that have circulated that Mo had bone chips removed after the BC, which isn’t really a big deal because this is usually typical maintenance. Whatever the case, Mo is clearly not fit, and if he does race on the first Saturday in May, he will have to dig down dip, rediscover who he was as a 2 year old and win all by himself. I do not put any stock in Pletcher and wouldn’t be surprised if the connections take him off the trail all together.
I can no longer be too confident in Mo for the Derby, but I have much more confidence in him than you, Mike. The Wood was not the "real" Uncle Mo.

About Me

Mike has been a passionate horseracing fan for over 30 years. He received his “handicapping education” through countless hours of deciphering the mystery that is embedded in every race. It was the tough beats at the window, however, that propelled him to never make the same mistake twice (well, maybe three times).

As Managing Partner of Horse Racing Nation, Mike serves as investor, business advisor, staff handicapper and developer of handicapping content.

Handicapping the Derby has always been one of Mike's favorite endeavors.  He spends weeks compiling notes, speed figures and analysis in preparation for the big race.  In 2010, his HRN pals pushed him into packaging his time-tested methods into what became the 2010 Kentucky Derby Super Screener, an e-book that became extremely popular with HRN readers and was downloaded over 3,000 times.   

In preparation for the 2011 Derby, Mike will be "Rating the Preps" each weekend on the Derby trail.  The goal will be to build a good picture for which prep races are most likely to produce the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner.   

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