First off, before we get to the Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty works, let’s at least acknowledge both colts for getting this far. The two Mike Repole-owned and Todd Pletcher-trained colts are the only horses from the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) that are still around. Boys at Tosconova, Rogue Romance, Jaycito, J P's Gusto, and Riveting Reason all have fallen off the Derby trail, and Biondetti, J B's Thunder, and Murjan never even made it to the trail. So, if it wasn’t for these two colts, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile would have left an ignominious legacy as a springboard to the classics.
As for their works Sunday morning, they went in company over a track that turned sloppy from several hours of heavy thunderstorms. Both worked well and finished up together, coming home their final eighth in :12 2/5, galloping out another eighth in :13 3/5, and then pulling up seven furlongs in 1:28. It was solid work, nothing spectacular. But it wasn’t meant to be. It’s just a question now of how battle-tested both colts are heading into the Derby, as neither got as much out of their respective last starts as was hoped.
The other big question regarding Uncle Mo is whether he’s still the same brilliant horse at 3 as he was at 2. That’s something we’ll just have to find out. If someone said right now that this year’s Derby winner is going to win by six lengths, is there any horse it could be other than Uncle Mo? That’s what makes him so intriguing in here.
One of the knocks against Uncle Mo is that he’s a big question mark a mile and a quarter. He may not have the most ideal 10-furlong pedigree, but it’s not nearly as bad as it’s made out to be and certainly no worse than the pedigrees of several recent Derby winners, such as Smarty Jones or Big Brown, both of who were by sprinter/miler sires and didn’t have a particularly strong female family.
Uncle Mo’s sire, Indian Charlie, has at least proven he can sire a mile and a quarter horse, as evidenced by his daughter Fleet Indian, winner of the 1 1/4-mile Personal Ensign and Delaware Handicap.
Indian Charlie’s sire, In Excess, ran the fastest 1 1/4 miles ever in New York, winning the Suburban Handicap in 1:58 1/5. He also won the nine-furlong Woodward in 1:46 1/5 and the Whitney. Indian Charlie’s tail-female family traces to major stamina influence Round Table.
Uncle Mo’s broodmare sire, Arch, won the 1 1/4-mile Super Derby and the 1 3/16-mile Fayette Stakes in track-record time. Arch has sired two major stakes winners at 1 1/4 miles -- Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame and Alabama winner Pine Island, and also is the sire of Arkansas Derby winner Archarcharch, who is a leading Derby contender this year.
Arch’s sire, Kris S., sired Prized, winner of the 1 1/2-mile Breeders’ Cup Turf and 1 1/4-mile Swaps Stakes, defeating Sunday Silence. He also sired Santa Anita Derby winner Brocco among others. Kris S. is by English Derby winner Roberto, who has sired such classy distances horses as Dynaformer, Brian’s Time, Silver Hawk, Bob Back, and Touching Wood
Uncle Mo’s fourth generation in his female family includes Northern Dancer and Danzig, as well as Cyane, who is a great-grandsire of Smart Strike, sire of Breeders’ Cup winners Curlin and English Channel and Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky.
Is this a great stamina pedigree? Let’s say there are a lot better and a lot worse. If Uncle Mo is as good this year as he was last year, and brings enough conditioning into the Derby, we just don’t see why his pedigree would be a deterrent, as so many people claim it to be.
First Set in Stone Wager
On March 9, I wrote a column titled "Derby Material," where I ranked my Top 15 horses, based on who had the look of a Kentucky Derby winner, in other words those who exhibited the attributes that normally win the Derby and who I could picture charging down the Churchill stretch to victory. This ranking had nothing to do with the Derby Dozen, which takes into account other factors.
Several of those on the list have fallen off the Derby trail due to injury, while some just didn’t pan out, with a number of late developers showing up virtually out of nowhere since then. But of those left, it is looking more and more like I will be able use some of them with confidence in the exotics.
Those horses are, as ranked on March 9, 1--Dialed In, 2--Mucho Macho Man, 3--Soldat, 7--Archarcharch, and 13--Toby's Corner. Two others in the Top 15 who are still in the Derby picture are 4--Santiva and 5--Stay Thirsty. So that's seven of the 15 still very much in the Derby picture.
Not wanting to use more than five horses in a trifecta box, I will go with Dialed In, Mucho Macho Man, Archarcharch, Toby's Corner, and Soldat. And I might do a little something with Stay Thirsty and/or Santiva to save at a huge price.
I figure, if these horses looked like Derby material two months ago, before the victories of Dialed In in the Florida Derby, Archarcharch in the Arkansas Derby, and Toby’s Corner in the Wood Memorial, they surely look like Derby material now. So in a confusing year such as this, why not go with initial observations and gut feeling and forget about the Johnny-come latelys? All five in the exotics box have been around since January and are battle-tested, and all still have room for improvement.
So, regardless of what we come up with in Friday’s selection column, this bet is already locked in.
Uncle Mo at that time still had not started, Midnight Interlude and Nehro were still maidens, Shackleford had just been beaten 23 ½ lengths in the Fountain of Youth, and Animal Kingdom was beaten in a grass allowance race.
We will not be making our usual picks based on works, because we arrived too late to see the majority of works. We’ll comment on the gallops and overall appearance and incorporate that into the Friday selections. But this is a good bet to get out of the way without having to do any thinking.
We will repeat this section in Friday’s column.
Tomorrow, we will catch up on Animal Kingdom’s Saturday work, which we got a chance to see on tape, and explain why this horse, despite appearing to be bred strictly for the grass, has every right to run big on the dirt.