Mo Should Go For Classic

This is one time logic should be thrown out the proverbial window. Yes, it makes more sense for Uncle Mo to point for the Kelso mile and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. But if he does go that route, then all one can say is, big deal.

Be honest now, can you name off the top of your head the four previous winners of the Dirt Mile? How about three or even two? If not, here you go – Corinthian, Albertus Maximus, Furthest Land, and Dakota Phone. Decent horses, but hardly a roster of champions.

Uncle Mo, after nearly winning the grade I King’s Bishop off a four-month layoff and a severe, lingering illness, should be at least given the opportunity to strive for greatness, even though the odds are against him being conditioned and battle-tested enough to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic at 1 ¼ miles. Then why subject the horse to such an arduous task?

Because this horse has extraordinary talent and has true greatness in him. He was born with it and displayed it in his three starts last year, accomplishing amazing feats in all three races. And he's already run huge around two turns and ran well enough in the Wood Memorial at 1 1/8 miles this year, despite his illness.

Because going from the grade I King’s Bishop to the grade II Kelso and then the Dirt Mile, which would be a grade II race based on its previous winners, would do little to confirm his greatness. He would have to come back and win the Cigar Mile, a much more prestigious race and a much more coveted race to breeders looking for that special classy and brilliant horse at a mile.

Because if he runs in the Pennsylvania Derby and shows he is not up to two turns at this stage of his career, then he can always drop back to one turn and go for the Dirt Mile, no harm done. Yes, the Pennsylvania Derby also is grade II, but carries more prestige than the Kelso. Even if he wins the Pennsylvania Derby and Todd Pletcher and Mike Repole have a change of heart, they can still change course back to the Dirt Mile. But this gives them two ways to go.

Because if he runs off with the Pennsylvania Derby it would at least provide him with a good launching pad for the Classic. Even if he fails in the Classic he would at least prove an excellent compliment to his now well-established stablemate, Stay Thirsty, and could still come back in a month and run in the Cigar Mile and end the year in a blaze of glory. Then, if he and Stay Thirsty should remain in training next year, they can go their separate ways and attempt to leave their mark on the history books doing what they do best.

In short, the Classic could catapult Uncle Mo’s reputation into the stratosphere (even to a lesser degree if he finishes second or even a close third), while a victory in the Dirt Mile would be nothing more than a big win on that day and still serve pretty much as a prep for the Cigar Mile, his ace in the hole in case the Classic doesn’t pan out. If he wins the Cigar Mile against older horses, no one will hold a Classic defeat against him and he would go off to stud a red-hot stallion prospect if they do decide to retire him.

This is not meant to knock the Dirt Mile, a race which needs a big-time winner to establish its place on the list of prestigious stakes. But for now, it has not provided that or a rock-solid foundation after four years.

I realize that this opinion will incur mostly opposing views, but racing needs a spark right now, especially on the Classic scene, and may be provided with one should Havre de Grace win the Woodward impressively. I cannot argue with those opposing views. But when it comes to sparks, no horse this year has set off more of them than Uncle Mo, even when he was on the sidelines. Everyone has followed his progress on Facebook and his website. The majority of the media and fans are captivated by him, because they have seen what he is capable of when healthy. And let’s not forget, in his one victory this year, he did beat a horse who went on to finish second in the Travers.

The fact is, his performance in the King’s Bishop (kudos to Pletcher for having him that sharp) under the circumstances was extraordinary. He was nipped at the wire after going nearly five-wide by a classy one-turn closer in a race set up for a closer and galloped out five lengths clear of the winner. There is no place to go now but up. And that means competing at the highest level.

Remember, he still has escape routes if it doesn’t pan out, but we all know what that highest level is.


Leave a Comment:


If(and that's a big if) the BC Mile attracts Mo, Shackleford, Sidney's Candy and Twirling Candy,  all of a sudden it wouldn't be a grade 2 race. It would be one of the more anticipated races on the card.  

Give him a shot in the Penn. Derby but I think the Dirt Mile would be better than the classic for Mo.

On a different note, I hope So You Think somes over to run in the Classic.  That would be fun to see.

02 Sep 2011 2:09 PM

Nice to have you back, Steve!

I have to disagree. I think pushing Mo for the Classic would be an ego trip. I agree with Steve Davidowitz - the Kelso, and then the Mile.  They already have a horse for the Classic - but then, this is why I wish Stay Thirsty were owned and trained by anyone other than Repole and Pletcher. He will always, always be the 2nd horse in his barn - a total afterthought.

That said, that is not the reason why I think Mo should go for the Mile. He ran well in the King's Bishop, but there really is no logical reason why a horse coming off of that kind of illness should now be pushed this hard.  Why? Again, ego. Let's face it - Repole and Pletcher want to win the Classic with Mo, not Stay Thirsty - I don't care how happy they were after the Travers.  It's asking a lot for Mo to go from 7 furlongs to 1 1/4 miles in the matter of a couple of months, I think - there's just no reason to do it.

02 Sep 2011 2:11 PM

I agree 100%! Throw him in the Penn Derby and lets see what he's got. I also thought that UM didn't see CP coming up on the outside. If he was able to see CP he might have been able to hold him off. I think that's why he got back in front by 5 after the wire.

02 Sep 2011 2:11 PM
Bill Two

Totally agree.  Mo really does have greatness in him and it would indeed be a shame not to give him the chance to show it to the world on the biggest stage there is.  His race against Caleb's Posse was incredible and I just have to feel we are just scratching the surface here.  Hopefully Pletcher and Repole will agree with us.

02 Sep 2011 2:23 PM
Criminal Type

I think the BC Dirt mile will get it's big name winner this year in The Factor. He sure looked good winning at Del Mar last weekend. Yea, I know it's not dirt, but I still think he will go in that race and he will win it.

Your logic on Uncle Mo make's sense. I really like Mike Repole and wish him nothing but the best. If Mo goes in the BC Classic and wins then his value, like you said, goes through the roof. If not, He has a lot of options. He sure tried his heart out in the King's Bishop and did better then I expected off the illness and layoff. Personally, I think a mile to 1 1/8 mile is his distance. Stay Thirsty is the classic distance star in that stable right now. I admit I never thought much of him, and dismissed him outright during the Triple Crown races, but he has turned into a really nice horse. A pleasant surprise.

I love Havre De Grace, I hope she does win the Woodward. I have the greatest respect for Larry Jones and Rick Porter. They have as a duo brought us some classy horses over the years.

I know statistically the Kelso is a less prestigious race then the PA Derby but as a fan who's first horse hero was Kelso, I think that is wrong. All I have to say is 5 time Horse Of The Year..let's see that duplicated.

02 Sep 2011 2:32 PM
Smoking Baby

 Off the top (honest).  Dakota Phone, Corinthian, Albertus Maximus and......I got nothing.

02 Sep 2011 2:40 PM

Steve.....normally I am in lock step with you and what you write.  Not this time.  Uncle Mo cannot get 1 1/4 miles and everyone, including his trainer knows it.  He will not win the Classic or in my opinion, even hit the board.  Next year is when he can go for the Classic.  There is no demand for him at stud.  Sons of Indian Charlie are not setting the world on fire.  Granted he has some descent breeding on his dam side, but no one will gamble on him for anything more than $10,000.00.  Repole should race him at 4 and allow him to be more fit and he will probably shine more than he has so far this year, and win alot more money than standing him at stud next year.  He is not built like a distance horse and his talent will only carry him so far.....probably 1 1/8 miles.  If he looses the PA Derby and then looses the Breeders Cup, Repole will have not choice but to race him next year.  He should do that anyway.  Stay Thirsty is Repoles BC Classic horse....Not Uncle Mo.

02 Sep 2011 2:41 PM
Criminal Type

Sidekick, YES, I want to see So You Think come over. In fact I hope they bring all the top European horses over. I have read they are likely for the Breeders Cup. I know there are several already win and your in horses coming. I think that Red Duke, the 2 year old Hard Spun colt over in England is coming for the BC juvi turf. It's going to be great racing.

02 Sep 2011 2:43 PM
Smoking Baby

.....Furthest Land...Yes that's it.  Uncle Mo's name fits right in with these.

02 Sep 2011 2:44 PM

Completely agree Steve.  Uncle Mo is a brilliant horse and he deserves his shot in the biggest race, the Breeders Cup Classic.  If he runs and wins the Classic it will be the biggest story of the year, by far, and Pletcher and Repole will deserve immense credit for not retiring him and having given him the time to get healthy and the chance to show his greatness on the track in the race that means the most, the Classic.

02 Sep 2011 3:00 PM

How come no one talks about the Hawthorne Gold Cup or Derby...would be nice to see a high caliber horse tune up for any of the Breeders Cup races!  :(((

02 Sep 2011 3:04 PM

Welcome back from the layoff Steve. I read your 'warm-up' column on Stay Thirsty and realize that you are finding your edge again and rounding into good form by turning your attention to Uncle Mo (LOL). I couldn't agree more about "Mo" pointing to the BCC ...actually posted the same idea on Jason's blog a wee bit before yours.  They say great minds think alike. Truth is I missed your insightful columns. Best of health and everything to you.

02 Sep 2011 3:10 PM

I agree with you!  Repole and Pletcher should give Mo the chance at greatness.  I thought his King's Bishop was fabulous.  I hope they read your column and do the right thing for Mo and for racing.

02 Sep 2011 3:22 PM

Uncle Mo will do battle with ST & HDG if he goes to the Classic!! I definitely think he should be pointed to the Classic.. Yeah he has been out this year and his last two starts were a bit disappointing (only in the fact he didnt win), but he was last years CHAMPION. you dont give up in that after he beats a lengthy illness & comes back to just miss in a G2. I still think he and ST are the best horses this year in the 3 yr old male division. Let THEM do battle to the wire in the Classic. not be compromised by people's opinions and remarks. It is NOT ego to want to send your two best horses to the Classic together, its the stuff dreams are made of!

02 Sep 2011 3:38 PM
Steve Haskin

Southbendfarm, you seem very sure that Mo cant get 1 1/4 miles. What do you base that on? Considering how narrowly he got beat going 1 1/8 miles in April despite suffering from a severe illness, I would say there is at least a decent possibility he can get 1 1/4 miles. If he cant he has a whole year of mile races to point to next year.

02 Sep 2011 3:48 PM

I guess this is a pretty difficult decision to make. If Uncle Mo weren't just recovering from such a lingering, problematic illness there would be no question.  But I hate the idea of pushing a horse beyond what he's capable of at the time.  Maybe it will take this next race to know but mostly I would just hate to see him pushed too hard too soon.

Stay Thirsty is looking really good right now and he can do the Classic distance.  The Factor is thrilling and he will be sitting pretty in the Mile.  

The two fillies HDG and BL will be a fantastic rematch if they both end up in the Distaff. I hope they end up running against each other - what a great race that would be.

Of all the horses now it's Shackleford who I am most concerned about.  I love him - his grit,determination, talent and beauty.  He has really captured my heart this year.  But he's run so hard.  Where would be best for him?

02 Sep 2011 3:56 PM
Karen in Texas

I was never one of those who thought that Mo couldn't get a mile and a quarter just because he was a colt by Indian Charlie. I do think the BC Classic might be a bit ambitious at this point due to his lay-off and liver involvement though. The logic of trying the Pennsylvania Derby to test two turns is good, so if he were to do really well there, then attempting the mile and a quarter does make sense. I totally agree he has a variety of "escape routes" or options as he goes forward in his career. Again, Steve, I am so glad you are back!

02 Sep 2011 4:30 PM

I kind of agree with shooting for the Classic with Mo.  He certainly has the talent to aim high, though it will be questionable whether he is ready for such a test at this time.

No matter where they race, I for one am just thankful that he and The Factor are back in action!  Easily the 2 best of their generation.  

If Mo stays healthy I don't see Repole retiring him at 4, especially after such a brief 3 year old campaign.  So, he certainly would have time to prove himself next year if he doesn't make it to the Classic this time around.

I agree with Sidekickflats, the Mile *could* be a big race this year.  

02 Sep 2011 4:56 PM
Old Timer

The horse is just getting back on his feet but I tend to agree with you. He is not your average horse.

The second point of your column I also agree with. The Dirt Mile is a second level race (among a few others) that BC just tacked on and IMO cheapened the overall program.

02 Sep 2011 5:05 PM
Carlos in Cali

Southbendfarm,I agree.

There is a reason why Uncle Mo's participation in the BCC is not set in stone like Stay Thirsty is.I think Pletcher knows what his limits are and doesn't want another embarrassing performance like Quality Road had last year,IMO.

If I'm not mistaken,I'm pretty sure Pletcher/Repole stated 2days before the Wood that UM was training as good or better than he did going into last yr's BCJ.I thought he ran his race in the Wood,it's the way he shortened stride inside the last 16th that I base my opinion on why he won't be effective going 10f as he will going shorter.

02 Sep 2011 5:09 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, very compelling case that you made here! I am converted/convinced by your argument. Originally I thought the mile, but you are right, if he can go 1 1/8, he can go 1 1/4. I think he is the most talented horse out there, and his last race was outstanding after a 5 month lay off. On another note, did anyone see American Turf Monthly Magazine. Mark Shrager did a top 10 American horses and he put Zenyatta at #6! Interesting list and discussion. He put Dr. Fager at #1.

02 Sep 2011 5:43 PM

Steve, love the way you think!! As long as Mo is fit, let him run and guide him back towards his original trajectory. You will know better than anyone here about Seattle Slew's near fatal illness at the start of his 4 yo year. Slew did not have an easy climb back and lost a couple along the way, but he managed to beat Affirmed in 1978 in the Marlboro Cup, he won the Woodward, and lost probably the best race he or any other horse ever ran, the JCGC...was the Older Male champ that year. Point is, the only way we will know what Mo is capable of is to let him loose and see how far he can go! What is to be gained by being timid! I'm with you, Steve, and so-o-o-o-o glad you are back at your old stand!

Ann Maree

02 Sep 2011 5:45 PM

P.S. I'm betting that HdG doesn't run in the Classic, but will run in the Ladies, and I don't think it will depend on what she does in the Woodward tomorrow. JMHO.

02 Sep 2011 5:48 PM
Karen in Indiana

Well, you are right about racing needing a spark, but I have to disagree about what to do with Mo. Stay Thirsty may not be a star, but he's a solid, good horse who should do well. Keeping in mind that Uncle Mo was so sick just a few months ago, why not do right by him, keep him at the shorter distances this year and bring him back for a monster year next year? I read another writer (sorry :-) was going through withdrawals) who wrote that one of the positive things about this year's 3 yr. old crop is that none of them should be retired to stud early and the handicap division would be stronger next year. And remember - Animal Kingdom should be back then and we could see some really good match ups!

02 Sep 2011 7:57 PM
Walt Gekko

I would actually be looking to put Uncle Mo on the turf for his next start in either the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland or Jamaica at Belmont (both Grade 1s on October 8) with an eye towards the BC Mile on turf.  If he were to beat Goldikova in the BC Mile while the three year olds were to continue beating each other up, especially if he followed up a BC Mile win with a win in one of Hollywood Park's big fall stakes on turf (most likely the Hollywood Derby on Thanksgiving weekend at 1 1/4 Miles), he probably would be champion three year old.

02 Sep 2011 8:02 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   As game as Shackleford has been I think he is fried mentally on the longer races. When you continually have to battle and run your heart at at distances that are beyond your optimal or comfortable distance it takes its toll. If he were to be entered in and win the Classic it would be the shock of the century for me. He needs a 7f prep or two so he can know that when he gets out there he can run his heart out at a reasonable distance. Then stretching him out a furlong in the BC Dirt Mile will be no problem. By that point he'll be ready to fight it out to the end again. If they are not careful they will ruin him as a race horse. He's fine physically as far as I know. It's all mental right now. He may actually need two 7f races in a row to re-learn the competitive spirit. I can see the merits of both the BC Dirt Mile and The Classic for Mo. As talented as he is I just feel that he may not have quite enough time to be ready for The Classic. There is no reason the BC Dirt Mile can't be a prestigious race. It's only going to take one star field and a great performance to do that. This could be the year. There are a number of excellent horses that could possibly enter although the sprint would be my first choice for The Factor and the dirt mile my second choice but either is fine. A great championship race is a great championship race. I'm not one that thinks the Classic is the only icing you can use on the cake. When we start getting more stars in the dirt mile because that is where they belong and that is what they pointed for it will be a tremendous race. It shouldn't just be an afterthought for horses that were pointed to the Classic but don't really seem to want the distance at this point or don't quite seem ready for the Classic. Some of those are still entered in The Classic anyway, hoping for a miracle. With Mo I would need to see a strong 9f performance first before deciding. And it is true that his Wood was a pretty damn good performance for as sick as he was but he has been off awhile. One thing I don't doubt about him is his talent and gameness but I'm not convinced yet that he is a champion 10fer. When I saw the way Stay Thirsty ran his last two so easily I thought that there is no wy Mo will beat him at 10f so what's the point. I'm not saying that's true but it was my first thought.

02 Sep 2011 8:10 PM

Steve, I definitely get your point! Even if Uncle Mo wins the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile(G1) and Cigar Mile(G1), he will be thought of as a brilliant "miler", though they do say that milers make the best sires, and Corinthian deserves a lot of respect, he  was a horse who displayed brilliance in the Met Mile(G1) and BC Dirt Mile and has a very promising stud career. But, mind as well as try for the glory of the 1 1/4m.

02 Sep 2011 8:32 PM

Steve, usually you are on point, but in this case I tend to disagree. Uncle Mo is a really good horse. How good is yet to be determined. I went back and analyzed all of his wins from last year and although visually impressive, he only beat two horses that have made the transition to winners at 3. At three he beat a very green Rattlesnake Bridge and a handful of regular horses. In the Wood, he was sick, but Toby's Corner ran a very credible race in a decent time. Mo has yet to demonstrate the ability to run past 8.5 furlongs nor has he won a graded stakes of significance at 3. He should be given an opportunity to get his legs back under him before he jumps into the deep in, unless they do not plan to run him at age 4. Mo is a really good racehorse with a tremendous amount of talent, but I do not think he has enough of a foundation to run a winning race in the Classic. His team should continue to focus on the emergence of Stay Thirsty and let Mo run where he can win.

02 Sep 2011 8:39 PM
Steve Haskin

To all those who disagree with me, I certainly can't argue with you. You make more sense than I do, but I still feel that the Pa. Derby at least gives his connections two options. What if he wins by 10 in track record time? You certainly want to at least see if you have a Classic horse.

02 Sep 2011 9:24 PM

Good point Steve but let's consider another hypothetical. What if he goes in the PA Derby and loses by any distance. You would know better than I, but it seems as if Repole would like to retire the horse after this year. He probably should run in races in which he can win that would enhance his stud value. As of now, his resume is no better than War Pass' when he retired. I think Mo can get a classic distance if given time, but I think they would be asking too much too soon for a horse that was near death months ago. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see it, but I don't think it would be in his best interest. Besides, will they honestly make the same mistake with Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty in the fall that they made in the spring? If you look at their running styles, they would probably compromise each other's chances anyway.

02 Sep 2011 9:54 PM
Arts and Letters

If they got rid of all these extra silly Breeders Cup races and went back to the original 7, Mo would have to run in the Mile Turf or the Classic.  Either would enhance his reputation a lot more than the Dirt Mile.  See BC planners? - this is what diluting these races over the years has done!

02 Sep 2011 10:15 PM
Sam Santschi

Steve, I like the idea of him trying.  I'm so underwhelmed by ST's Jim Dandy and Travers... watching him beat horses who were staggering down the stretch.  It's a shame AK got hurt. BTW, what is the deal with MMM?

02 Sep 2011 10:19 PM
Matthew W

Steve, THANK YOU! The dirt mile--it has a sort of leftover feel to it, as if a horse just couldn't get the longer two-turn graded races, so why not shorten up to a dirt mile? For that matter, why not 6fur then!...No, I agree wholeheartedly, you go get ya some of that there Classic! The favorite, Tizway, is also suspect at the distance, the time is right for taking that chance, and his comeback was solid! He belongs--heck, didn't Tiznow make the 911 Classic by the skin of his dinosaur nose? Worked out pretty well for him, didn't it? No, this year, more than any I can remember, the Classic is shaping up as a "who can get the distance" kind of race--go for it! As usual, you are right on the money!

02 Sep 2011 11:08 PM

Well, perhaps the connections should see if Uncle Mo can sustain his speed. However, I recall a recent year when a certain mare won the BC Classic over several Grade 1 winners and still was denied HOY. A BC Dirt Mile with several stars, including Mo and The Factor? Could be another anomaly year, where the Classic does not really matter. (gasp!)

02 Sep 2011 11:44 PM


02 Sep 2011 11:50 PM

BC Mile for Mo this year. Hope the connections are none too ambitious with a colt wasted away earlier in the year by a form of hepatitis. There can be relapses from hepatitis so why risk the horse's well being by too much too soon ? He's by Indian Charlie anyway - not Bernardini like his 10 furlong stablemate, Stay Thirsty. Keep MO in training as a 4 year old for, as Steve says, no other horse this year generated the interest and excitement that Uncle Mo did. The racing public wants to see more of Mo as a 4 year old to see how good he really is.  Next year for consideration of the Classic for Uncle Mo.

03 Sep 2011 12:54 AM

Steve; I respect the opinions of those who say Mo can't be at his best or conditioned to compete successfully in the BCC this year.  Nonetheless, I agree with you; this horse (at his best) is one awesome racehorse.  I think they should go for the 1-1/8 mile PA Derby and depending on the outcome, pick the BC race for him.  If they go with the 1 mile Kelso, they've practically eliminated his chance to participate in the Classic, no matter how well he might run.  Running in the PA Derby keeps their options open.

03 Sep 2011 1:17 AM


Correct me if I'm wrong here, but in the King's Bishop, I thought I saw a new dimension to Uncle Mo.  I was actually a little concerned going out of the gate and down the backstretch because Mo was sitting back further than I expected him to.  My concern was just that there was too much talent up front and Mo wasn't quite ready for primetime.  To my pleasant surprise, he rated comfortably back behind Flashpoint and the other leaders, and I really thought it was Flashpoint's race to lose at post time.

If Mo were to run the Penn Derby and perform like Champion Uncle Mo, then we're at a point where  I'm on the same page as you, Steve.  Post Penn Derby, Uncle Mo comes out the race in good order, or he doesn't.  If he does, and continues to rate well as he did in King's Bishop, moving forward off of each race, he's a freakin stud when he pushes the throttle down!  I love this guy, bigtime!  Stay Thirsty may continue to get better and if he does, and pulls off a Classic victory, it's actually a win win for Repole et al. because Mo can be tagged as "not quite ready" after the layoff/illness, and Thirsty brings home the gold.

All that said, if MO is in good order after great performances, you've nailed it, Steve, see if the greatness is there in the Classic!

It was a risk to run Secretariat in the Wood and the Woodward, and connections got burned.  It was a very short layoff to run him in the Marlboro, risk rewarded!

If Uncle Mo's healthy, there's no telling what we might see.  Give him a chance if he's happy!

03 Sep 2011 4:25 AM

Good to have you back Steve,i'm not on your side either,can't see him winning the Classic from where he's at right now,remember this bunch we're looking at aint so great so he's yet got some runnin to do in my books.The Factor shure looks like the buisness at his job.

03 Sep 2011 5:35 AM
Rachel NH

He should run where it's determined by his trainer, vets and owner it's safest for him to run with the least chance of compromising his health by taxing him too much too soon and the least chance of him tiring because the demand on his body is too much and he collapses or breaks down.

He's flesh and blood with a champion's heart, so yes, he'll try hard for that 1 1/4 in the classic if asked, it's up to humans to not experiment with him.

03 Sep 2011 6:51 AM
Steve Haskin

Bigtex, his ability to rate that far off the pace was one of the factors I considered.

03 Sep 2011 8:51 AM

So glad you are back, Steve.

Sorry if this is the wrong venue to mention this but the new Derby ticket policy is really awful.  That is charging $50 even if you dont get tickets plus 20% more for tickets to get to the head of the line?  Guess this will end my derby experience at 49.  Either that or gen admission.  I agree with you about Uncle Mo too. Thanks for letting me vent.

03 Sep 2011 9:15 AM

After the Travers, Mike Repole was being interviewed and he made a comment that Mo lost his right hind shoe in the race and felt that made the difference in the loss by "that much". I don't know if anyone else here heard that comment.  Mo's condition and attitude before the race was superb. I was very, very impressed with his race, especially after learning he had lost a hind shoe. He ran a fantastic race. Let no one question his heart. I don't know if he can get a mile and a quarter or not either, I have had my doubts this year, but after learning about the shoe and seeing that race I think you a right Steve, he should have his chance.  Mo has served notice they will have to earn it.

03 Sep 2011 9:55 AM

So happy you and Uncle Mo are back, Steve.  Missed you both.

03 Sep 2011 10:00 AM
Pony Pete

Go for the Dirt Mile this year then BRING HIM BACK next year when he could run a full campaign towards the B.C. Classic

Of course owners are all too quick to get them to stud and I understand the business side all too well.

The problem w/horse racing is not enough name recognition! Look what happens when you have a "Z" or Rachel or Curlin or insert any name that fans flock to the KY farms just to see and touch a legend 5-10-15-20 years later.

The stud route is a plan of diminishing return and then what will stud fees buy them?

Hail the owners of a Goldikova and any other 4yo+!

They call this "The Sport of Kings!" Unfortunately it has become ever more increasingly  "The business of businessmen!" Don't cry when the party is finally over!

03 Sep 2011 10:09 AM

Steve, when I saw this blog today I was so happy. I wasn't sure if you would be writing again so soon. Again, let me second so many, it is wonderful having you back. I just want you to not overdo, we addicts still crave your writings but we want to see our favorite conditioned up to the classic distances.

03 Sep 2011 10:29 AM
Smoking Baby

 I'm hearing a lot about how Uncle Mo rated comfortable off the pace.  Was that really the case or was he simply being outrun by faster horses the first part of the race?  I didn't notice (or care really) how hot the pace was but if it was hot I'm not sure how much we can glean from Uncle Mo being four lengths back.  And much is being made about the quality of the field.  Really?  I don't see it.  Aside from Caleb's Posse who is certainly a nice colt there wasn't much in there.  Let's reserve the "Chamnpion's Heart" label for when Uncle Mo actually wins a race where he's hooked down the stretch.  For now, I'm still unconvinced.  I mean...How did that mile and a quarter work out for Quality Road last year and he would have completely destroyed Uncle Mo going one turn.  Not a doubt in my mind about that.  Now...this is just my opinion and as always I could be wrong.  I'll be the first to jump back out there and give kudos to Uncle Mo just the second he shows me he's worthy of all this praise he's getting.

03 Sep 2011 10:31 AM
Stellar Jayne

Hi Steve,  So glad you are back!  I hope you are well.  You have been missed here, as well as on ATO.

I agree with your assessment that Uncle Mo should be given the opportunity to show that he is a really first class horse.  I thought he ran a very good Kings Bishop.  My only reservation is his health.  I have been hoping to read that Pletcher and Repole have had him thoroughly checked over to see that his liver, etc. is still functioning normally.  If it is, he should be entered in the races you mentioned, but I would also say he needs a complete physical after each race to make sure the liver is not flaring up again.  On another note, I think Stay Thirsty has proven himself very well.  I wonder though if TP and MR will throw UM under the train so to speak, because they think ST will give them the attention or glory?  Just a thought.

Dr Drunkinbum - I think your comments to TerriV about Shackleford were absolutely right.  I too love Shackleford and cheer for him to win every time - he is always on his game 100% win or lose.  But we did not see the real Shackleford in the Travers - he just gave up at the end.  That is not like him.  Romans has been too a ambitious and did not do what was really right for Shack.  As you said, he was burned out mentally, it showed at the end of the race.  He is running his brains and heart out without a proper rest in-between some of the more grueling races.  I think Shackleford also has been a spark that racing needed.  I don't believe in the majority of trainers who say "...we will do what is best for the horse..., or ...we will wait for him to tell us...."  I believe John Sherriffs and Larry Jones mean it when they says it, but I doubt the majority.

03 Sep 2011 12:39 PM

I agree he should try the Penn, and that if he does well, the BCC, and think it is certainly possible to achieve proper condition for both races, as long as he remains healthy, hungry, and eager to race.  Only Pletcher, Repole, and stable personnel can know these things.  I have to think they want to send him to the Classic, but since, as you point out, so many people follow his progress closely, they can't verbalize that desire until they are pretty sure they have a shot at it.

I do think he can get the 1 1/4, and I even think he wants it.  If he feels as much better as I think he must after battling illness for likely much longer than anyone knew, I view him as a dyed-in-the-wool thoroughbred who wants to run run run.  I would surely like to watch him do it for at least one more year.

03 Sep 2011 5:52 PM
Paula Higgins

WOOHOO HDG ran a great race. Maybe SHE will be in the classic. Not impossible. I still agree with Steve, put Mo in the classic. Also, what's the rush about reiring him. If he is still healthy, let him run! His Facebook page says he is doing very well.

03 Sep 2011 6:36 PM

Steve, this time I have to disagree with you.  It's that type of thinking that made the best US Miler last year come in last in the BC Classic.  I don't think UM is a 10f horse.  He's an absolute champion, but he lifts his knees quite high and really pounds the dirt hard.  In the BC Juvenile last year, he was not in stride as much as leaping in stride.  He has brilliant speed, but trying to sustain it at that distance may take more out of him than can benefit him.  He's a colt who will give everything he has, and any liver ailment can cost a year of recovery.  Push harder, at this time, and you might destroy the horse.

Aside from all that, if So You Think comes into the BC Classic no one else stands a chance.  (Just my personal about igniting a spark!  He's set a bonfire under me!)

03 Sep 2011 8:03 PM

I think if Mo wins the Classic there is one downside...crap! We DID loose our shot at a legti triple crown winner this year!  :(   Still it will be a tall task. I think your column should be "give Mo a shot at the next step in the Classic direction". He's not there yet...but we'll know in another 4 or 5 weeks...

03 Sep 2011 8:36 PM
Matthew W

Impressive N Y Bred won Del Mar Debutante today--nice filly--am beating myself for not getting Shediak today--$49 for the win, and he just won big vs a salty group of optional claimers--his was a lateral move and he was much the best--he got away, I played him in a three horse box but neglegted to play him win/show, which is my want--and, oh, by the way, a grand filly ran them down at the old barn, she is HOY right now, Jones put them all in a position where they will have to do something real nice for HOY--he doesn't need to win the Classic--only beat Blind Luck/win the Ladies Classic--Tizway woild need to win big in the Classic, and I mean big--what we saw today was that big, she ran right in the mid-pack, and she fired, she moves to the head of American Racing.....

03 Sep 2011 8:51 PM

I'm with you Steve, if Mo is healthy I saw let him attempt greatness!    Paula, I read the article and while I LOVE Zenyatta and was thrilled to see her on there, I cannot give much weight to a list of top 10 great horses that puts Spectacular Bid that low and does not include Native Dancer.

03 Sep 2011 9:23 PM

Mo can rate and has plenty of stamina in his pedigree. If all goes well he should definatly run in the classic. The BC mile...snooze

03 Sep 2011 9:56 PM

Uncle Mo is the most over-hyped horse since Mine That Bird but if he has a Facebook page I guess he belongs with the great ones (giggle). A wet book of matches has provided more sparks this year than Mo from where I sit. Go back to blogging about Blind Luck Steve...a champion that is more than just the creation of a PR machine.

03 Sep 2011 10:22 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting this out.  I am in absolute agreement with you and hope the Uncle Mo contingent is on the same page.  I have missed on "And They're Off."

03 Sep 2011 10:59 PM

I would agree on running in the PA derby,but he is already behind to be able to defeat older horses at a mile and a quarter in the classic.Mo is a horse that developed earlier than his counterparts in the 2 yo division.

In my mind TC and Mo are similar in that for them to be able to win at 10 furlongs against grade 1 company they have to race themselves into condition to outrun their racing style and pedigree.If Mo goes in the penn derby, I doubt any of the top contenders for the classic will face him so He will probably dominate a subpar field(in terms of the classic anyway.I like the idea of the penn derby,but afterwords I would wait for the Cigar Mile,and go from there.If he is as good as advertised he will be able to beat grade one competition at 9 and 10 furlongs as a 4yo,and make a serious attempt to win HOY and the classic.

04 Sep 2011 10:15 AM
Mister Frisky

Just don't get the love affair with Uncle Mo.A nice two year old champ like most two year old champs,that's it.His loud mouth owner makes it hard for me to endear myself to him.I said months ago this guy is Ernie Paragallo with a orange tie.See Unbridled Song.

04 Sep 2011 11:42 AM

i could not disagree more with the desire to push mo to be ready to compete in the BCC--even a perfectly fit mo is questionable for 1 1/4.

it was wrong that his connections subjected him to the pace he faced in the king's bishop after having been so close to death, as per mike repole, just a couple of months prior. tbh, i'm really surprised you would want this either, as you usually are one of the few voices out there speaking for the well-being of the horses--seeing them as entities who can feel and think and want and fear, not just as numbers to be bet on.

the best thing, would have been to have turned mo out for the rest of the year to have plenty of time to truly recover, and to have brought him back for the clark, or the donn next year, aiming for hoty as a 4 year old, just as blame's and quality road's connections did.

but it is probably all moot, i am very skeptical that mo will ever race again.

04 Sep 2011 12:20 PM

When their trainers finally saw champion sprinters in their classic horses, Big Drama and now Jackson Bend are true stars.  (And Big Drama is finally back today at Calder in the 9th).  I would still keep Uncle Mo at shorter distances until next year.  He's a brilliant star, but it takes time to recover from the type of illness he had.  I'd be quite tentative with him if I were planning to keep him around for awhile.  Too often our 3 year-olds are retired by the end of the year.  We usually complain about Bernardini's retirement so early even though he seems to be a brilliant sire.  We miss "what could have been".  How many stallions actually race at 4 any more?  We were fortunate to have had Quality Road and Blame stick around another year.  Gio Ponti is 6, and So You Think is 5, and they're both healthy stallions.  And yet, they are an anomaly in a breeding world that ships off the likes of Sea The Stars too quickly into the breeding shed.  (And I realize that was done because they lost Urban Sea...but they had Galileo).  I simply think Uncle Mo needs more recovery time than a few months.  He's simply too beautiful to ruin so early.  

04 Sep 2011 2:14 PM

Love your columns Steve but I think you have this one wrong. You seem to think that it would be the biggest benefit to racing that he go in the Classic, but I disagree.  

I think one of the industry's problems is that the general public only cares about the big races.  Basically the Triple Crown and the Classic.  Heck my mom, bless her heart was there with my dad and I watching the Travers and recognized Shackleford and said "I thought racing was over after the Belmont."  

I don't think the Classic needs Mo, as much as the Dirt Mile does.  To me racing needs to branch out and let Joe Public know that there are more than 4 important races in a year.  The Dirt Mile with Mo vs. The Factor, with horses like Shackleford, Jackson Bend, Sidneys Candy, etc sprinkled in has the potential to be a great race that could grab the public.  That to me would be better for racing.

And could be just as good for Mo if the public was educated that you don't have to win the Classic to be considered extremely special. Goldikova is a miler pretty much that is considered sheer greatness. Could she beat some others going 1 1/4? No.  But the Europeans don't hold that against her and hold her in the highest regard, and neither do the general American public after they got to know her better.

All that said, the main reason I wouldn't point Mo to the Classic is because I don't think he would be effective at 1 1/4. I saw you question someone above that said the same, and I don't have a specific reason for saying that other than years of watching horses and he does not look like 1 1/4 would be his distance. He is a special talent though, and maybe he could gut it out and still win, but I figure he would get passed in the lane.

I have similar thoughts on who I think is the best 3 YO in the world ... Frankel. He's as special as they come, but he also doesn't have the look of liking 1 1/4.  Doesn't make him any less special to me, or not be able to see his talent. Just is who he is.  

But for racing I say lets not encourage them to run Mo and watch him fade in the lane of the Classic.  Instead hype the other horses in the Classic to the public.  

And lets get Mo and The Factor to hook up in the Mile and produce a winner that is actually memorable and start the public on the way to paying attention to another race on the card.

04 Sep 2011 3:33 PM
Matthew W

Jacky Martin, one of Quarter Horse Racing's all-time greatest jockeys, and riding the favorite for this year's All American Futurity, is fighting for his life as I type--it does not look good for him! Brutal!

04 Sep 2011 3:39 PM
Matthew W

Overhyped? His three races last year were nothing short of spectacular, and his Breeders Cup tour de force--over a track that was tiring to say the least--that was one of the best races I have ever seen a two year old run--his comeback was very nice, Uncle Mo is a compelling animal! Overhyped? No way, hgis Wood is a complete toss-out, he can make waves in The Classic, he has the class, and he loves the track--if he makes it to The Classic, no way will I toss him!

04 Sep 2011 3:44 PM
Matthew W

Again, Steve, to see a filly run in the pack, then push-button her way to the front, among graded male stake winners--it always impresses me when I see a filly overcome the strength bias, and outmove them and outlast them, and rather easily, may I add--very nice! Jones played his hand, and now he doesn't HAVE to beat males again--Jones says he may try to anyway--I hope not, and, ironically, The Classic may be "easier", since Blind Luck will be in The Ladies--how compelling is that? Another grande dame of Turfdom--like the late 70's for male horses--the last few years, from Azeri thru Rags thru Rachel thru Big Z, and now two more who seem like first ballot Hall Of Famers--Jones and his Harve De Grace are now front/center, and rightly so! Let's see if he can keep her in top form, they have been a formidable team, very worthy of HOY honours--they'll likely have to beat Tizway, son of Tiznow, who really is a big horse sire--he sires horses who win big races, and he has that special and rare trait in a sire: he sires himself! Late bloomers, high cruising speed, and dogged stamina--those were traits of Tiznow, the racehorse--they're also traits of his offspring--and he sires horses who, when they win, they win like him...but Tiznow was the specimen! Tizway will be tough to beat, like Ack Ack (I'm aging myself, Steve! Was 12 during Ack Acks run), Tiznow has figured out how to run, and I feel he'll get the 1 1/4 now--I hope Jones doesn't try them, I feel (strongly) about this: That Harve De Grace would be asked too much to beat Tizway, and it would take some kinda animal to beat him in The Classic...

04 Sep 2011 4:53 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve, you are lucky. I started a post yesterday after Jackson Bend won, finished it up a minute ago and when i clicked submit it said "oops, sorry there has been an error." it just disappeared in thin air. So i am rewriting it as close to memory as i can. This is shorter.

Jackson Bend had just won on July 22 last month and got a kiss from Zito then. He got another one yesterday for his over 3 length win. I had just mentioned in a post last week 'that what is old is new again' and i cannot think that more than when i think of JB, Aikinite, Rule, The Factor and for today Big Drama and Gray Flannel and Gray Hawk came in 2 and 3 at Ellis Park. I even saw Ice Box on a list for a race yesterday.

On Saturday at Saratoga,Race 3, there was a mare named Nurse Dolce racing from Gate 1. I would like to think that she won that one for your nurses who are probably sweet, just as Dolce means in Italian. In Spanish it is Dulce!.

It was a race for New York Bred Fillies and Mares only.

And cannot continue without mentioning Havre de Grace's win against the guys. GOOD GIRL HAVRE

and on to the BC. And congratulations to Mr. Porter, Mr. Jones and her handlers. For me i am dedicating her race to Eight Belles since i am the chairman of myself,and I just did. i am not discounting Blind Luck at all. She will have another try at Havre.

Odds and ends for me today were

a big handsome deep brown and white high stepping track pony escorting True Feelings to Gate 1 at Saratoga for Race 10 where Grace Hall prevailed and won. She was a $95,000 purchase last year so she has paid her owners back with a win in The Spinaway Gr.1. Very nice.

At Ellis in Race 7 i watched as a group of horses with not famous names run for a purse of $11,000 after i had just watched Grace Hall win the $250.000 purse at Saratogta. Those horses at Ellis had no idea they were running for a mere $11,000, but Steve they ran with the determination of true champions. No one told them they were only running for a small purse. But they ran. There is a lesson in that someplace and i am trying to find it to apply it to my life because it is what horse racing is. Full of heart.

Be well Steve and have a Happy Labor Day. As for some folks in my little town who own big expensive boats, they are out looking for water in our empty lake and dragging their kids around dirt skiing! :)

04 Sep 2011 7:30 PM
Linda in Texas

Matthew W, i read the article this morning on Jacky Martin. I called a friend of mine who is a quarter horse racing fan and there. He reported no new news this morning except he is in very critical condition and we know that is the standard. We will all think of him and his family in our prayers i know.

04 Sep 2011 7:45 PM
Admiral Harriman Nelson's lady

Normally I agree with you, Steve, but this time, I am afraid not. Uncle Mo is a very nice horse, and he may have a nice four-year-old season ahead of him. Why go for broke now? Why take a horse who is just recovered from a life-threatening illness and push im to get him ready for one of the hardest races of his life? What is the rush? Why does he have to be whisked off to stud at the end of this year? It's not as if Repole needs the money. In my opinion, he is not a mile and a quarter horse--he is a miler. I just fail to understand pushing the horse so unmercifully to make a race that would be beyond his abilities probably anyway. Why ruin him? I have no use for people who would put money and prestige ahead of the welfare of the horse. I was not thrilled with the way Stay Thirsty was treated ealrly in his career. He was used purely as a workhorse to pump up Uncle Mo--what he could have achieved with a training job designed for him and his abilities, I can only imagine. I feel poor Stay Thirsty was cheated in a way. But now I hate to see Uncle Mo cheated out of a possible four-year-old campaign where he could be really effective just to cash in on the moment now.

04 Sep 2011 8:12 PM
Bill Two

Like Steve says, it might not seem logical to point this horse towards the big prize, but the thing about Mo is he has so much talent that he may be able to overcome all of objections everyone so astutely have enumerated.  Only the most talented horses can overcome this much adversity, lack of seasoning, etc. and be seriously considered for a challenge like this.  I admit that on pedigree alone I don't like him at a mile and a quarter, but then Secretariat had a lot of doubters too before he won the Derby.  Not to compare him to Secretariat since that would be sacrilege, but his talent is the thing that makes it difficult to judge his chances.  I say give him a race  - say the PA Derby - and if he demolishes the field and he's healthy and training well, go for it.

04 Sep 2011 8:40 PM

Mike Repole seemed very iffy about Mo's future after the King's Bishop and yet before the race Todd Pletcher acted like Mo was going to take the Bishop and was ready to roll.  These are just my observations.  So it may be the owner and the trainer are on two different thinking modes for Uncle Mo's future.

More importantly, if Mo is healthy the Penn Derby sure makes sense.  He looked like the old MO in the King's Bishop.  He surely did.  

Sure glad you are back Steve!

04 Sep 2011 8:45 PM

Some interesting questions and statements are contained in this blog and since they are associated with an issue involving the Uncle Mo I cannot resist the temptation to add my views to the list already provided.

“Be honest now, can you name off the top of your head the four previous winners of the Dirt Mile?”

Legitimate question as very few would be able to without research. However, if a past winner of the Dirt Mile had recorded either a NTR or a WR that winner’s name would be on everybody’s lips. The same question could be asked about the winners of a number of Breeders Cup races. Discreet Cat who ran in the Dirt Mile won by Corinthian was far more impressive than the Mighty Mo before he went sour. His connections could have gone to the BCC but realized the colt was just not a 10F horse in spite of his immense class.

“Uncle Mo, after nearly winning the grade I King’s Bishop off a four-month layoff and a severe, lingering illness, should be at least given the opportunity to strive for greatness”

I am not sure that winning the BCC elevates any horse to greatness. The bar of greatness has been lowered in the past to match for the Mighty Mo’s achievements. Is this another attempt? There are a number of horse that have won the BCC who can hardly be considered great and have no chance of even making the Thoroughbred Hall of Fame

“Because this horse has extraordinary talent and has true greatness in him”

The same could be said about The Factor and Premier Pegasus. The latter gave one of the best 3YO performances before his unfortunate injury. Uncle Mo was a brilliant 2YO. He has one victory as a 3YO how this equates to greatness remains puzzle to me.

“Because going from the grade I King’s Bishop to the grade II Kelso and then the Dirt Mile, which would be a grade II race based on its previous winners, would do little to confirm his greatness”

What greatness am I missing? How many track records has this colt established or equaled? If the grade I King’s Bishop turns out to be his last race, will he enter the HOF off his 2YO record? The Mighty Mo put together three impressive victories as a 2YO. I can list a number of horses that have done the same and the bar of greatness was never lowered to match their achievements. If Uncle Mo is so great, why did his connections choose to enter him in a race specially written for his 3YO debut? The monster Frankel was entered in a graded race for his 3YO debut. The great filly Regret made her 3YO debut in the Derby. The connections of a great champion 2YOs do not duck age group competition.

“In short, the Classic could catapult Uncle Mo’s reputation into the stratosphere”

I wonder why? Victories in the BCC by Invasor, Cat Thief, Concern, Valponi, Pleasantly Perfect etc., did not catapult their reputations into the stratosphere.

I fail to see why a case Uncle Mo’s greatness is still being made. The cold facts do not support his greatness. On the two occasions he lost there were legitimate excuses provided for his defeat. In his four victories he went by the field and pulled off. In his two losses he was challenged when he kicked on and could not repel the challenges. He was sick when he was the 1-5 looser of the Wood. He was coming back from sickness when he was the 2-1 loser of the King’s Bishop. If he is entered in the BCC, What will be the reason for his loss? I guess a valid reason would be he was never the same after the sickness. If Uncle Mo will not realize his true potential because of his set back then he should be retired. If he continues to race and loose close races contested in fast fraction, he will continue to diminish the achievements of those who defeat him. His supporter will continue to specify that he is not over his sickness. Which may very well be the case? If he wins, he will be even greater as a sickness affected colt would have defeated others that are fit and well. His supporter cannot have it both ways.

04 Sep 2011 10:31 PM

Steve, I am a fan and am so glad to have you back.  I read your blog and most of the responces. Your suggestion to give Mo a chance is perfect...hopefully, he'll be healthy enough to go the the Pa Derby.  Mo's health is a race by thing(I is most horses).  He is a star and I don't think any one can really say why.  Yup he was a brilliant 2 yr Champion, he has a non traditional owner that SOME people find fun (as opposed to the high-brow pompous owners....not all of them are charmingly genuine like Mary Lou). Lastly, Mo is a star. Like it or not (I love it), he is a major draw at the track and he does have a fb page. Stay Thirsty was his training buddy, call it what you want, they don't know one is supposed to be greater than the other.  So I ask of everyone....what makes a star?  Lots of musicians have more talent than the big name stars....I'm just saying, there is always someone better, but why is a star a star?  It's because they captured the heart of fans.  Weep away nay-sayers,  Uncle Mo is a star.  

05 Sep 2011 10:23 AM
Criminal Type

I heard last night that Jacky Martin had fractured three cervical vertebrae and damaged his spinal cord. Per TVG: His Xrays were flown to Scrip's yesterday to be reveiwed by a team of neurological specialists but they are not optimistic. The doctors in El Paso are working hard to stabilize his breathing. Because his diaphram is affected by the paralysis, it is probable that Martin will have to be ventilated. At this point in time the Doctors are saying his condition is permenent. My prayers go out to him, his family and the medical personnel working so hard to save him.

Congrats to Havre De Grace, Larry Jones and Rick Porter. She was far and away the best horse in that group. Also, WeeMissFrankie what a little dynamo! The other Grace looked good too, Grace Hall in the Spinaway. I didn't see any 2 yr old colts that impressed me this weekend. The best so far IMO is Union Rag's. He goes in the Champagne on 10/8 and then on to the BC Juvenile. Hopefully he can continue to carry his form through the rest of this year and into the Classics. Im not concerned that he won the Special in the slop, He broke is maiden on a dry fast track at Delaware Park on 7/12.

I'd like to say something to the Repole detractors. First of all, Mike Repole may run off at the mouth a bit about his horses, racing and anything else he has an opinion about. No question this guy is opinionated, arrogant even. BUT, he is enhusiastic and commited about and to his horses. Remember this is not a guy who just fell off the manure wagon. He started a company that he sold for 4.1 billion dollars. B I L L I O N.  

Sure, I've seen the attitude, who can miss it?. But, I've also seen great humility from this guy. When they had to winthdraw Mo from the Derby, He could have sent Pletcher out alone to face the media but he did't. He went out there and took it like a man. Some people think he waited till the last minute so that no other horse could get in, I don't think that was contrived. I think they were praying with every freaking fiber of their beings that Mo would snap out of it, much like the movie version of Secretariat miraculously getting his appetite back the morning of the Derby.

I think Mike Repole is good for racing, maybe he shakes things up a bit. Maybe it's time someone did. I like the guy and think he is one of the better owners in this sport and nothing at all like Ernie Peragallo. I also think Mike should run Uncle Mo next year, Stay Thirsty too. Retiring a horse due to injury is one thing, but I've never been a fan of retiring a horse as a three year old just so they can gooble up the stud fee's. Uncle Mo deserves at least a chance to compete when he is 100%. As much as Todd Pletcher says he is, I doubt that's true. Him, I am no fan of.

Maybe Mike Repole should send his horses to Larry Jones.

05 Sep 2011 12:59 PM

Regardless if you are a fan of this horse or not, if, (and it's a big if) - he wins back to back breeders cups, last year's Juvenile and either the dirt mile or the Classic this year...that's a great horse. Maybe not an all time great, but you don't win at that level year over year without skill and talent. You just don't...

05 Sep 2011 1:44 PM

I cannot see how winning or finishing in the top three I the Breeder Cup Classic would catapult Uncle mo reputations into the stratosphere. I am of the opinion that a strong Breeder’s Cup Mile performance would serve him better as a stallion. A mile in 1:31 and change is far better than the 2:02 plus that Blame and Zenyatta recorded in the 2010 BCC. Elusive Quality record a world record for a mile. I believe it was on turf. He is one of the premier sires in the world. His runners have won the Derby, Preakness, Breeders Cup Classis and who can forget the brilliant Quality Road.. He is also the sire of the brilliantly fast Sepoy from Australia who swept the Blue Diamond series of races and went on the win Golden Slipper the richest 2YO race in the world. I do not know Elusive Quality’s racing record but it is unlikely that he ever contested a 10F race. Mr. Prospector was a brilliant sprinter who set track records for 6F at two different tracks. He was started in a 10F race to enhance his reputation and he went on to be one of the best sires in the world.

Breeders’ Cup Classic winners have not distinguished themselves as sires of Triple Crown horse. I am of the opinion they fall into a curse category. A. P Indy and Unbridled are the only two that have sire winners on TC races. Are breeder lining up for Invasor and Pleasantly Perfect? Uncle Mo’s stride pattern suggests he is not a 10F horse. The current crop of G1 routers is not great. Could Uncle Mo use his high cruising speed and great acceleration to steal the BCC?  If he had more fluent strides yes. I told one Of Mr. Haskin’s supporters who was all the rage over Dialed In that he had a laborious stride pattern that would not allow him to be effective at 9F or 10F in good company. Uncle Mo hits the ground very hard and that that saps stamina one of the requirements to carry speed..

Although he is considered great in some quarters He is a talented colt but not a great one and there are lots of those around that are not targeting the BCC. If Uncle Mo was a great horse I would have no hesitation in backing his entry into the BCC in spite of the aforementioned stamina issue. The great ones find a way to win in spite of short comings. I do believe his place in the BCM where he will be at his best. Even with a strong showing in the BCM his pedigree is not commercially appealing and he will have to compete at stud with another brilliant colt that goes by the name The Factor who has a Northern Dancer /Raise A Native cross. The Factors fluency in movement is a dream for farm operators and broodmare owners.

05 Sep 2011 2:51 PM

Matthew W,

In your 03 Sept 2011 8:51PM post you said that Havre de Grace is HOTY right now and that Tizway would need to win the BCC big.  Are you kidding? To be the HOTY leader HDG has to defeat Blind Luck and Tizway.  She has certainly entered the discussion with a bang in the Woodward but she has a couple mountains to climb to get the vote.  You have underestimated Tizway big time my friend.


You certainly enjoy blogging about Uncle Mo but your record shows that he is not within your realm of expertise.  Give it up bro.  Uncle Mo is a lot better than you'll ever give him credit for.

05 Sep 2011 5:12 PM


“He is not within your realm of expertise”

You are using a language with which I am not familiar.  I have never declared myself an expert in any area of the Thoroughbred industry. Like everybody else I merely share my opinions. I sometime ask the tough questions and keep those who make emotionally driven statements honest.

“Give it up bro.  Uncle Mo is a lot better than you'll ever give him credit for”

What exactly should I give up? Are you referring to my asking why the colt is considered great when he has not achieve anything that others have not and they are not labeled great? I think I have been very measured about Uncle Mo. I give him the credit he merits based on his record. The fact that I am not in awe of his record does not equate to my discrediting him. Uncle Mo is still a young horse and if he remains healthy and produce the performances that elevate him to greatness status I will gladly acknowledge his greatness. Until then I will continue to ask if he is a HOF candidate off his 2YO record. If not he cannot be classified as great. In retrospect he is probably great but not exceptional.

NB: Did you see the likely 2012 Derby winner at Saratoga last Saturday. He is a son of Bernardini out of a Nijinsky broodmare. “Alpha” Alpha and Omega: The beginning and the end. His beginning could signal the end of the Triple Crown drought. Oh! I forgot he is from the A P Indy sire line. My Bad!

05 Sep 2011 8:37 PM
The Deacon

I agree with you Steve on your assessment of Uncle MO, I have been touting him all year and believed that if he were healthy he had a good shot at winning the Triple Crown. Here is my question, if Repole runs "Mo" in the Classic, what does he do with Stay Thirsty? Obviously they both can't win the race.

Like Shackleford, I think Havre De Grace may be spent by Breeders Cup day, she has had an awful lot of tough races this year but she is one tough mare. I think the Ladies Classic will be a better fit, that would be a great renewal of the Blind Luck rivalry as well. It will make Friday's race card well worth warching. All you bloggers remember this please, "Mo" loves Churchill Downs, he won the Juvenille last year at a 1 1/16 miles going away. I think he is now coming into his own and the older handicap division is pretty weak. Other then Tizway and maybe Acclamation I don't see much out there. Finally, Uncle Mo is fresh, many of these other horses have been running all year so getting the 1 1/4 mile may not be that daunting.......

Welcome back Steve, you were truly missed.    

06 Sep 2011 2:46 AM

MikeM:  Plenty of stamina in Mo's pedigree?????   Please tell me where?  You would have to go all the way to Nasrullah...but then, most horses trace back to Nasrullah, and they're not all Classic distance horses.

The BC Dirt Mile has only been around for 4 years...give it time...heroes will emerge.  I can't name the past 4 winners of the marathon either, but that doesn't mean it carried no prestige.  I can certainly remember the name of the last 3 winners of the turf mile...that's so easy since it's only one name...Goldikova...and she's a miracle.  Of course her trainer was the jockey of one of the best...Miesque.  Sounds quite prestigious to me.

What about the BC Sprint?  Just look at the monsters we've seen.  Midnight Lute, Big Drama, Lit de Justice, Artax.  

Just give the mile time.  Don't you think we'd remember the 2010 winner a bit more clearly if Quality Road dominated it?

So You Think is not going back to Australia for another Cox Plate.  If he comes to America, I think even I would crawl to CD to see him....and Aidan O'Brien does send his stock to the BC.  

Coldfacts...I saw Alpha last week.  I still love me my Bernardini's....but it's simply much too soon to discuss the TC after only one maiden race....but didn't that happen with UM last year...and see where that got us.

What ever happened to Maclean's Music?  Kindersley?  etc..etc?  

06 Sep 2011 9:32 AM

I think Pletcher doesn't have anything to lose going to the Pennsylvania Derby. If Uncle Mo doesn't run well, then is off to the Breeders Cup Mile, where he should be a fitter horse and taking a cutback in distance. But I think he can and will win the Pennsylvania Derby, and if he does that, there is no reason why he shouldn't be in the Breeders Cup Classic, where he will be a much fresher horse than his counterparts and he has already proven a liking for the Churchill Downs strip.

06 Sep 2011 9:52 AM
Criminal Type

I saw Alpha's race. He looked OK, but there are two year olds that have impressed me much more. Ive never been an AP INDY fan or for that matter any of his son's.

Currency Swap looked pretty good yesterday in the mud but what I was really payin attetion too was Trinniburg not far behind Currency Swap, and I tought.. Hmmm Trinniburg ???? Sure enough when I went back and checked, Trinniburg was in the field that Union Rag's(Dixie Union) beat so badly in the Saratoga Special. Trinniburg almost caught Currency Swap yesterday.

Now, this tells me one of three things. First, Currency Swap is not that good, or, two: Trinniburg is an improving horse, or, three: Union Rags is a very special colt. The time in Rag's race was also better then Currency Swaps times.

There is a two year old out on the left coast that has caught my eye, and he is Creative Cause (Giants Causeway) who needs to run on dirt at SA before I make up my mind about him. I have no reservations about Rag's on a dry track, he blew them away in his maiden at DP on a dry surface.

Another two year old who will likely be making his first start at Belmont in a couple weeks is Margano, the two year old brother of Barbaro who is in training with Barkley Tagg. It's amazing how much he look like Dynaformer. Much more so then the other brothers.

I do love this time of year, whe the new two year olds take to the track, they are so exciting.

06 Sep 2011 11:28 AM

Criminal Type

I researched Union Rags pedigree before the Saratoga Special and fell in love with him. Sadly I did not make any money as the race was on a Monday. His second dam Terpsichorist captured my attention as she was sire by Nijinsky and she set a NTR for 11F at the Meadowlands. I have my doubts that Dixie Union will be the sire of note for a Derby winner. I caught Creative Cause when he made his debut. I do not like him for the Derby. His sire is over bred and his dam belongs to the million dollar earners club. He does not fit the profile of a derby winner. That said. His talent is not in any doubt.  Currency Swap has a very wide gate and appear to used a lot of energy to move in huge frame. I do not like him for the TC series of races..

Alpha is by a Nijinsky Broodmare and those are rarely seen. The brilliant but unsound Tapit was produced from a Nijinsky broodmare. After his Wood victory I was on him for the derby but the sloppy track and Smarty Jones was his undoing. The 1993 Belmont winner Colonial Affair was produced from a Nijinsky broodmare. Nijinsky was the sire of unfortunate Derby winner Ferdinand. Nijinsky the 1970 English Triple Crown winner was one of Northern Dancer’s best sons. When one of his broodmare produces a horse with ability I am on board. We should not forget that the Northern Dancer broodmare line is the best in Triple Crown history with 20 victories. I have no doubt that Alpha is a router. The 10:90 split for the 6F of his maiden race suggest he can stay close to good fractions and use the stamina laden pedigree to great effect. He is being pointed to the Champagne and a better evaluation of his ability can be made.

06 Sep 2011 3:15 PM
Criminal Type

I had forgotten, There is a two year old colt out there By Hard Spun who is a half brother to Lost in the Fog. He was purchased by IEAH and I communicated via email with Mike Sherack at IEAH who told me the colt was with Eddie Woods in Ocala and would be going to Wesley Ward. The only problem is, the colt was not named. I made a couple suggestions which Mike liked but still no name and without a name I cant watch him. There is also a Hard Spun who is half to Rockport Harbor who I can't wait to see. If Regal Miss Copelan passed her gorgeous white face off to this one he should be a spectacular looking colt.

06 Sep 2011 3:31 PM

Thanks for all your great articles Steve and am very glad you are on the mend.  I have seen both HDG & Blind Luck .  I'm so torn, BL is like the little engine that could!  HDG is so feminine and all racehorse.  And what is not to love about Uncle Mo?

Just want all of them to stay healthy throughout their careers.  Does anyone know what happened to J.C.'S Pride.  I read that he was vanned off.  I tried to research but found nothing.  Hope he is ok.

Thank you and take care

06 Sep 2011 6:23 PM

Steve I agree with you on this.  I still believe something that Mike Repole said a long time ago, that Uncle Mo was "6 lengths better than any of them" prior to the illness.  I think Mo is unique, an unusual offspring of Indian Charlie, he's got the "it" factor that it takes, that rare combination of the athletic ability, the heart to win, and the mentality.  As long as Mo is sound, I'm all for him going in the BCC as his chance for redemption.  Interesting if Mo and Thirsty are in it competing against each other, the two training buddies in the BCC could give us a one-two Repole BCC punch. Add Havre de Grace to the mix and we've got a great race.  A win by her would put Larry Jones back in the limelight in a good way this time and give him his own shot at redemption. Interesting that the females seem to be stronger than the males and suffering less injuries; I wonder if the Lasix affects them differently with better renal function and less loss of bone calcium due to water retention?  Just wondering if female horses retain more water than males and would be less dehydrated?  Just a thought but I have now just been able to watch the Travers and King's Bishop and I think Mo's second was just as good as Thirsty's win, maybe better.  I fully support Mo going in the Classic.

06 Sep 2011 11:14 PM

Completely disagree that Uncle Mo should go for the Breeders Cup Classic. There's nothing in this horse's pedigree that suggest he'll stay 1-1/4 remotely effectively enough to be able to win the Breeders Cup Classic. Whereas, Uncle Mo would likely dominate in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile!! The winner's share of the Dirt Mile is a lot better than no share of the Classic!!

07 Sep 2011 12:17 AM
Criminal Type

Coldfacts, Union Rag's is going in the Champagne too so I guess we will see.

07 Sep 2011 8:55 AM

DeIrene...JC's Pride was pulled up during the race.  Have not heard anything since.

07 Sep 2011 10:34 AM


Uncle Mo returned from serious illness and ran a blinder in the King's Bishop to go down by a nose to Caleb's Posse, surprising even an ardent fan as yours truly and you appear from your post-triple crown haitus only to put him down.  That's what sparked my reaction.  It takes a very classy horse to come back in a salty field as the King's Bishop and lose by a whisker to a colt that's on top of his game.  Be reasonable Coldfacts.

As for the 2YOs I have eyes for only Union Rags right now. He is my 2012 Derby horse.  He is good looking, bred-in-the-purple for speed and stamina on dirt, grass or polytrack, has a wonderful trainer, an excited jockey and a name that has a Triple Crown ring to it. This colt is one smart cookie ...the real ragamuffin.  I'm glad you like his pedigree least we shouldn't be fighting over this one's qualities.  Watch him in the Champaigne.

07 Sep 2011 9:07 PM
Rick the Handicapper

It is now beyond the Pa. Derby and Uncle Mo is heading for the Kelso on October 1. If the loss in the King's Bishop can be attributed to his first race back  from his illness as well as the loss of a shoe, it would seem logical that Mo will be even tighter (especially in view of last Sunday's blazing work) for the Kelso. If he wins the Kelso impressively and comes out of it in good health, then he does have a fighting chance to win the BC Classic. If he wins the Classic, it is a no brainer that Uncle Mo will also be HOY.

26 Sep 2011 2:25 PM

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