Race of the Week 2017

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Zipse At The Track

Destination Dirt Mile for Breeders’ Cup Bound Uncle Mo?

I was a little surprised to hear that Uncle Mo will be prepping for the Breeders’ Cup by running in Belmont Park’s Grade 2 Kelso Breeders’ Cup Handicap on October 1. I was expecting his connections to choose the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby the week before. There are several reasons why I felt this way, but maybe each could be easily explained away.

-The Pennsylvania Derby offers four times as much purse money as does the Kelso. To me that would matter, but I guess owner Mike Repole does not need the money.

-The Pennsylvania Derby is likely to offer less competition for Uncle Mo than the older horses will in the Kelso. If the ultimate goal is the Breeders’ Cup, as I am sure it is, and trainer Todd Pletcher has ultimate belief in his horse, then I guess the level of competition should not matter, even if it means taking on a tiger like Jackson Bend.

-Finally, and most importantly, I thought a two-turn race, like the Pennsylvania Derby was the way to have him properly prepared for the 10 furlongs of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which is the race they have said they want to see him in. It would also tell them if he was not ready to face the best horses in America at an extended distance. The only way I can easily explain the choice of the Kelso here is if the Classic is not in fact the goal. I believe by running in the Kelso, his connections are preparing us for the decision to run Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

I see it as simple as this … If they are leaning to the Dirt Mile, the Kelso would be the perfect prep. If they are still thinking Classic, the Kelso would seem a very odd choice.

One other factor that could come into play as far as where Mo lands in early November is the progression of his stablemate Stay Thirsty. If the son of Bernardini can keep his excellent form going with a big race in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, run on the same day as the Kelso, it may make the decision to run Uncle Mo in the Dirt Mile over the Classic a much easier one.

I may be proven wrong by the talent of an extraordinary horse, but in the end, I believe the Dirt Mile is the better option for last year’s juvenile champ. With only the 7 furlong King’s Bishop, and the one-turn mile of the Kelso under his belt, I suspect the Classic would be a little too much to ask of a horse who was so sick just a few months ago. If Uncle Mo can and does prove me wrong, I will happily be the first to congratulate Team Uncle Mo.



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Older Comments about Destination Dirt Mile for Breeders’ Cup Bound Uncle Mo?...

Here we go...... with the Mo Joe.... HYPE.... he will never get a 1 1/4 not in this life time so count him out write a new chapter in history how? He did not run in the kentucky derby or any classic race and look like he will not face the best of the best in the BCC....so i say he is runnin out of time on makein history likin sparks and the dirt mile will be no walk over!!! not with T.C & J.B in the race.
It could go either way still, IMO. Personally I would have loved to see him in the Sprint. The Mile is good, but still does not seem to hold the prestige that the Classic or Sprint does. If the connections do opt for the Classic I would not count him out. He is that talented and proffesional. He showed he could rate last out, that he doesn't need to be right up on the pace all the time and that will help him a great deal. Those who harp on his breed only have Indian Charlie as their primary argument, even though Mo has Arch as a grandsire, who goes back to Kris S, who was also in the pedigree of Zenyatta and Rock Hard Ten. Blame had Arch for a sire and could get 10f very well. Indian Charlie may not be the best distance sire, but his foals can typically get up to 8.5f on average and he has on occasion had a good distance runner, Fleet Indian being one. So there is stamina there.
I completely agree Brian. It would make sense the D Mile is where they are leaning. To me it would be a crime against the horse to throw him in the Classic off these two preps after what he has been through. let's hope your feeling is correct.
  • medlocke · @tiznow, totally agree, 110%!! Even if somewhere down the road Todd Pletcher discovers that Uncle Mo will stay 9-1/2 or 10f? This certainly isn't the year to test that theory by throwing him into a Breeders Cup Classic that will be loaded with horses who are already proven at the 1-1/4 distance. I whole heartily believe that the Dirt Mile is the best option for Mo this year. At his best, can't see anyone beating Mo in that division. Although I do think it would interesting to see Jackson Bend in the Dirt Mile with Mo as well. JMO. · 2266 days ago
What ever their decision I'll trust Todd's decision with GO MO! This horse can write a new chapter in the history of horse racing.
If Repole and Pletcher send Uncle Mo to the B.C. Dirt Mile instead of the B.C. Classic, it will be the smartest move that they've made with Mo, IMO. Mo's pedigree just doesn't support that he'd be able to stay the 1-1/4 trip in the Classic nearly effectively enough to win or even make the frame in the race. Whereas, if Mo continues to improve off of his King's Bishop effort? He could really be a dominant force in the Dirt Mile!! The winner's share of the Dirt Mile is better than no share of the Classic, IMO.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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