Race of the Week 2017

Uncle Mo Still On Derby Trail

Uncle Mo - Breeders' Cup Juvenile topstory

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday morning that Uncle Mo, who suffered his first career defeat from five starts when finishing third in the Wood, came out of the race in good order.


“Physically he seemed okay this morning,” said Pletcher of Mike Repole’s juvenile champion, who was bright-eyed and happy to see visitors Sunday morning. “He grabbed a quarter, about the size of a nickel, but that will heal quickly and it shouldn’t be an issue.”


Pletcher said plans for Uncle Mo to ship to Churchill Downs on April 18 remain unchanged.


“We’ll see if we can get him prepared to step up,” said the trainer, adding: “It was not a typical Uncle Mo performance, but I do not feel like the mile and an eighth was an issue.”


Asked what he thought of this year’s crop of 3-year-olds, Pletcher said: “I went into yesterday thinking Uncle Mo was a standout; today it is a very wide-open crop.”


Pletcher said Repole took the colt’s first loss in stride.


“I think he took it better than I did,” said the trainer. “Anytime you run an undefeated champion [and he loses] your feelings are not going to change two minutes, two hours, or two days after the race.”


Joining Uncle Mo on the trip to Kentucky will be Grade 3 Gulfstream Oaks winner R Heat Lighting, who is being pointed to the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 6.


“Her last two races were exceptional,” said Pletcher of the 3-year-old daughter of Trippi, who also won the Grade 2 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park on February 26. “She’s a very hardy filly and she’s held up well.”


Pletcher said R Heat Lightning, like Uncle Mo, is scheduled to have two works over the track at Churchill Downs in advance of the race.


Pletcher has a number of candidates for the Kentucky Derby; in addition to Uncle Mo and Grade 3 Gotham winner Stay Thirsty, the trainer will send out Brethren, half-brother to last year’s Derby winning Super Saver, in the April 16 Arkansas Derby and the trio of Praetereo, Queen’splatekitten and Sensational Slam in the April 16 Blue Grass at Keeneland. However, Joe Vann, who won Saturday’s Illinois Derby, is not nominated to the Triple Crown.


Headlining Pletcher’s worktab at Belmont Park was multiple Grade 3 winner Rule, who breezed four furlongs in 49.08 on the training track, the 22nd fastest of 61 workouts at the distance. The 4-year-old of son of Roman Ruler, who finished third in the 2010 Grade 1 Florida Derby, is expected to next run in the Grade 3, $1 million Charles Town Classic at Charles Town Races in West Virginia on Saturday, April 16.


“Rule breezed extremely well,” Pletcher said. “He had success at Delta Downs as a 2-year-old which is encouraging in that he should like the tighter turns at Charles Town.”


Pletcher added that the Grade 1, $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on Monday, May 30 is definitely on Rule’s radar.


Also working Sunday morning at Belmont for the five-time Eclipse winner trainer was Cal Nation, the promising 3-year-old Distorted Humor colt that broke his maiden by 7 ¾-lengths in his debut at Gulfstream Park in February and most recently ran second by a nose in an allowance at the same track.


“He worked very well this morning and seems to have shipped in [from Florida] very good order,” said Pletcher of the colt who worked four furlongs in 48.63 on the training track, the 12th fastest of 61 workouts at the distance.


Cal Nation is pointing for the Grade 2, $150,000 Jerome at Aqueduct on closing weekend, Saturday, April 23 for 3-year-olds going a mile on the main track.




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Older Comments about Uncle Mo Still On Derby Trail...

If Uncle Mo isn't a longer distance horse as we hoped, he would do the racing world a severe justice in gelding this horse. We need sturdier horses, and IF, and I say IF, Uncle Mo isn't that. Why take him to the breeding shed? Hes a very wealthy man, he doesn't need the money. Uncle Mo could be an icon of the racing world.
Thead"or- I hope for the sake of the horse and the connections that my ruminations are proven incorrect. As a former international corporate banker, I just don't see Mr. Repole the successful entrepreneur that we know would even countenance gelding a 2 yr old champion. Even if UM doesn't run in or win the KD, he will still be on much demand as a commercial sire in view of his precociousness.
ArturoLaguna- Mike Repole stated at the Eclipse Awards he would run this horse for years. He said even if he was a 50,000$ Claimer, or the best horse in the world he would still run him to the exception of injury. But this is a minor bruise. He even contemplated gelding him.
Yes, as of now he is on Derby Trail. But, don't be completely taken by surprise if 2 or 1 week before the derby we hear the all familiar refrain from his trainer, "Uncle Mo is not training as well as we would like to see, so he is off the TC trail and will be retired." In other words , they need to salvage his already badly bruised reputation as a future super sire. By losing the Kentuckt Derby after the shockingly mundane performance in the Wood, UM"S potential value as a future stallion shall have diminsihed by at least $10 million.

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