Uncle Mo: “Watch Me Go”

Zipse’s Kentucky Derby Daily – Day 53

There were two races in Florida Saturday that served as preps for the 2011 Kentucky Derby, or at least that is what the connections of the winners are hoping, and the two stakes races provided decidedly different results.

In South Florida, it was all about Uncle Mo. The hype machine has been turned on full blast for Uncle Mo since he made it to the races last summer, so all eyes were on the unbeaten champion when he used Gulfstream Park’s brand new Timely Writer Stakes as a launching pad to his three-year-old season. Yes, I know that I am part of that hype machine, but what can I say … I believe in this colt’s talent big time. That talent was evident Saturday, as Mo sauntered through the one mile race as if he was a Gulfstream Park tourist, taking his time to see the sights.

What did we learn in the Timely Writer? Not too much. The race was easy. We still do not know how he will hold up against top class competition, running distances longer than he has before, and with a short rest between races. What we did learn though was positive. We now know that Uncle Mo has transitioned nicely from the juvenile races of the fall, through the winter, and is ready to reclaim his place as the king of his foal crop this spring. The 22 and change final quarter points that out nicely. There will be many questions for Mo to answer in the next three months, but so far, so good.

I should note that I thought runner-up Rattlesnake Bridge ran a fine race and is one to watch down the road. Running against Uncle Mo in only your second lifetime start can’t be easy, and the son of Tapit made the best of a tough situation. He was in receipt of six pounds from the Kentucky Derby favorite, but the complete lack of pace did him no favors. He was clearly overmatched by Mo, but he did give him a brief test, and proved much the best of the rest. I look forward to see what Rattlesnake Bridge can do next time without the champ to worry about.

Meanwhile up the Gulf Coast, there was another heavily favored, unbeaten, Todd Pletcher colt to headline the Tampa Bay Derby. This one did not fare so well. After being pushed well wide on the first turn, Brethren had little left when the real running began down the Tampa Bay Downs stretch. As Brethren faltered to finish third, two longshots continued to battle down the wire. 86-1 shot Crimson Knight briefly took the lead, but could not hold off the rally of 43-1 chance, Watch Me Go.

Watch Me Go’s win set off a wild celebration in the Tampa Bay Downs’ winner’s circle. Owned by Gilbert Campbell, trained by Kathleen O’Connell, and ridden by Luis Garcia, the son of West Acres was a victory for the locals. Chants of “We’re going to the Kentucky Derby!” continued for at least ten minutes, as everyone connected to the colt basked in victory.

Making his fourth consecutive race at Tampa, after running his first five races at Calder, Watch Me Go won his 4th race in 9 tries, including 2 for 3 this year. In his last race he finished third to Brethren in the Sam F Davis Stakes, but on Saturday his relentless rally from the middle of the pack proved too tough for the field. Whether he can make a serious impact on the first Saturday in May, is a prediction I am not confident in making, but seeing the joy after the victory put a smile on my face, and just like Uncle Mo, Watch Me Go has punched his ticket to Louisville.

[You can check out video replays of both races on HRN's new 2011 Kentucky Derby Trail Replay Wall]

Can't get enough of Uncle Mo? Check out all there is to see on the Horse Racing Nation Uncle Mo's Corner!


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, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to HRN, 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. His racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing webcast HorseCenter, 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 hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves on the Board 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 and is a Vox Populi committee member. He is a voter for racing's Hall of Fame, as well as a weekly NTRA poll voter. 

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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