Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie x Playa Maya by Arch)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: John Velazquez
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The first time I ever heard the name Uncle Mo, I was sitting at Turfway Park with a few friends taking in the races. It was August 28 and the Travers was scheduled to run later that day. Before the big races were kicked off a strong field of two-year-old maidens were set to compete. I wasn’t playing the race, but my pal Max asked me if I thought this colt, Uncle Mo, could lose. I told him I thought the colt was very likely to win, but he would get his answer in a few minutes. I wasn’t going to bet him at any rate as he was 4/5 and I wanted to save my funds for the later races anyway.
Just a few moments later Uncle Mo delivered a stunning 14 1/4 length debut win going six furlongs. He stopped the clock in 1:09 1/5 while beating nine other colts under a mere hand ride. 4/5 looked like a gift after that awe inspiring effort. To this day and throughout history it will rank as one of the easiest and best maiden wins ever.
Fast forward just a bit over seven months later and people were still asking the same question. Could Uncle Mo lose the Wood Memorial? He looked about as unbeatable as any horse has ever looked, but the world was shocked when he finished third beaten 1 1/4 lengths to Toby’s Corner. Owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher had tests performed on their star horse and it was discovered that he had a gastrointestinal tract infection.
It surely didn’t help his chances, but we cant blame his Wood Memorial loss purely on the GI tract infection. Uncle Mo was trying nine furlongs for the first time and was going two turns for just the second time in his career. He also grabbed a quarter at the start of the race. All of this with just a single race in six months. Can we really expect any three-year-old to win the Wood Memorial after having just a single start in six months? I certainly don’t think so. He clearly lacked a foundation and wasn’t ready to go the distance.
We must remember this is a colt that registered perhaps the strongest victory ever seen in the Breeders Cup Juvenile and he won the Champagne Stakes just as easily. He has got a mere five starts so far. Combine the fact that he is so lightly raced with his dominant performance in the Timely Writer going eight furlongs to start 2011 and I believe this colt hasn’t declined in talent or ability. He is every bit as good as he was last year.
The next questions for Uncle Mo are health and distance. Can he adequately recover from his infection in time to win the most prestigious horse race in America? That is a question I am not able to answer. We should know based on how he works leading up to the race. Pletcher has indicated that he will work twice before the Kentucky Derby. I’ll be watching both works intently, but most of my emphasis will be on the second work. I encourage you to do the same and draw your own conclusion.
I don’t expect distance to stop this colt. He has got too much talent for that. There is plenty of stamina from his mare, Playa Maya, to get him home going 10 panels. Her sire, Arch, has proved to be an excellent stamina influence.
A great quote from Warren Buffett comes to mind here. “A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.” he said. Uncle Mo was set to be the heaviest favorite in recent Kentucky Derby history before his Wood Memorial slip up. Is one hiccup along the way enough to get you off his band wagon? It shouldn’t be. Uncle Mo is a colt in the best of hands with 2010 Kentucky Derby winning trainer Todd Pletcher and he has got all the talent in the world. If he is healthy and ready to run his best race in the Kentucky Derby everyone else should be very afraid.