Kentucky Derby Contender Uncle Mo Delivers Encouraging Work - 04-27-11
April 27 - Saturday's Kentucky Derby is poised to be one of the most exciting in recent years, if not for the fact that with just over a week to go there is still a lot of uncertainty as to which 20 runners will start in the race, including early favorite Uncle Mo.
A few weeks ago, Todd Pletcher-trained Uncle Mo looked like a shoe-in to start in the epic 1 1/8 mile Kentucky Derby, having come off four straight wins and set to win the $1 million Wood Memorial Stakes in New York as the overwhelming favorite.
However, the colt only managed a disappointing third in that race, which was largely blamed on an gastrointestinal infection, throwing his Kentucky Derby hopes into doubt. But there is still hope he will run after he delivered a promising workout on Tuesday.
Uncle Mo reportedly completed five furlongs at Churchill Downs in 1:01.69 on a sloppy track just before 6 am. The reason Pletcher chose to work him so early was to avoid an even sloppier track later in the morning on account of heavy rainfall in Louisville.
'I was glad we went early,' said Pletcher. 'I was more pleased with the track at 6 am than after the break. He handled the surface real well, and the final time was what we were looking for. I was particularly pleased with the way he finished the work.'
Owned by Mike Repole, Uncle Mo will undoubtedly be the horse to beat in the Kentucky Derby provided, of course, he returns to the same winning form from a few weeks ago. The million dollar question is if he'll be fit enough to start in the May 7 race.
When asked that question, Repole did not provide a straight 'yes' or 'no' answer, but said instead that Uncle Mo had a '50-50' shot of making it to the starting post. His noncommittal answer was perfectly understandable considering how high the stakes are.
An encouraging indicator that the colt may well start next Saturday, is the fact that Uncle Mo's regular jockey, John Velazquez, has retained the ride on the colt, instead of being shifted to stablemate Stay Thirsty, who is a highly likely Kentucky Derby entrant.
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