Derby Mo-Jo Part II: It's Mo Time

Part II in an ongoing blog series authored by Mike Repole, owner of Kentucky Derby favorite Uncle Mo.


After four months off, Uncle Mo is back in the entry box! The Timely Writer Stakes it is.

As owner of the Kentucky Derby favorite, I'm not surprised that every decision I make is second-guessed by fans and media; it comes with the territory. Mo would have been 1-9 whether he went in the Timely Writer or the Tampa Bay Derby, but we chose the surface that was most similar to what he has been training on at Palm Meadows, and the easier ship.

Even though I am a very involved owner, I feel like I am partners with the best trainer on earth, and in Todd I trust. I'm not the one that has won five Eclipse Awards as the nation's top trainer, Todd has. So when he tells me he feels good about the decision, that's all I need to hear. He has been crystal clear from the beginning of this year: Mo ran the type of numbers as a 2-year-old that would win almost every 3-year-old race. He doesn't need to get better, he only needs to run same numbers and remain healthy.

Joe DiOrio  Order This Photo

At the end of the day, the Kentucky Derby is a very tough race to win. Only one horse will come out on top and those connections will be geniuses. The connections of the other 19 will be second-guessed. Even getting to the race is not an easy task, as we saw that the last two years when the Derby favorites, I Want Revenge and Eskendereya, didn't even make it. Our No. 1 goal is to get him there healthy and happy. After that, it's out of our control. It's up to Mo and Johnny.

Even though I have been dreaming of this experience for 30 years and feel truly blessed to be in this situation, I admittedly was not prepared for how much stress goes along with having a horse like this. During my dream, I was probably even too na├»ve about the level of detail and thought that goes into every decision, no matter how minor. I still wouldn't trade places with anyone in the world, but it's not as easy as it looks from the outside. In fact, as exciting as it is, it's probably 20 times more anxiety than I expected, especially after Stay Thirsty's Gotham win. Both of these horses are once in a lifetime horses. To have two in the same year in unexplainable and unimaginable.

Joe DiOrio  Order This Photo  

I look forward to enjoying Saturday's race at Gulfstream with more than 50 of my closest family and friends. I feel so fortunate to have so many supporters, especially my wife, Maria, my parents, and 84-year-old grandmother. Gulfstream has told me they are expecting one of their biggest crowds for a 3-year-old race since Spectacular Bid won the Hutcheson in 1979. It should be an electric atmosphere. Whether this was my horse or somebody else's, this is so great for racing and its fans.

Mo is ready. After his first work back a light bulb seem to go off in him. He turned it on in his next work and knew it was time to get serious. He is so focused right now. Whenever I talk to Todd about him he always makes a point to emphasize how smart Mo is. He says he has no bad training habits. He executes each work perfectly and is so relaxed doing it. Off the track, he is so cool, calm, and collected. His veterinarian, Dr. Allday, says the same thing. Whenever he needs to get scoped or treated, he's a model patient.

I could sit here all day and write about Mo's personality, but I think it's easier to show you through these two recent videos that were shot. In the first one, he's getting ready to eat. As you can see, he has the same appetite for food as he does for winning races! In the second video, Mo is chomping on some peppermints. He loves Pirate's Booty and carrots too, but I think peppermints are still his favorite.

I really hope to see some of you at Gulfstream on Saturday when Uncle Mo, Season 2 begins. I only wish and pray that season 2 is as exciting as Season 1.

Wishing you the best,


Joe DiOrio Order This Photo

Be sure to check out Mo's Facebook page for more updates and photos.

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