(Part III of an ongoing blog series authored by Mike Repole, owner of Kentucky Derby favorite Uncle Mo)
Wow, I can't believe that it is already April. Over the next two weeks, God willing, Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo will take their final steps before the Kentucky Derby. I'm possibly five weeks away from a lifelong dream.
After April 9, we will not only know a lot more about Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo, but also about the rest of the Derby field. It's a very exciting time to be a horse racing fan. I'm happy to say that I'm really enjoying every moment and I'm a lot less anxious than I was before Thirsty and Mo won their 3-year-olds debuts. I feel extremely fortunate to be in this position and I'm appreciative of all of the support I've received.
Mo's Timely Writer effort was exactly what we were looking for. The opening fractions were soft, but he finished up in :22 and change, and galloped out 15-20 lengths ahead of the field. What was so impressive to Todd and me was that he was able to relax so easily, which is what he will need to do in a 20-horse field like the Derby. Mo came out of the race in great shape. He had a strong work last Sunday when he was purposely placed behind a pair of horses and had dirt kicked in his face. He took like a champ, angled out at the eighth-pole when Johnny asked him, and blew by his work partners as if they were standing still. He is ready for the Wood Memorial.
There are going to be people that second-guess our decision to run Mo in the Wood. They will say that we took the easier route with him. From our standpoint, timing was the most important factor. By Stay Thirsty running in the Gotham and the Florida Derby, he will have four weeks in between races. Mo will also have four weeks between the Timely Writer and the Wood.
The Wood is a race that several champions including Secretariat and Seattle Slew both ran in, and had they not gotten injured, the last two Derby favorites would have come out of the race. It's a prestigious $1 million race and a race I've dreamed of winning ever since I was there there to watch Pleasant Colony win in 1981.
Uncle Mo wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Photo: Skip Dickstein
Since the day he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, I have been crystal clear that Mo would run in the Wood. It's not like this is a shocking route that we are taking. How am I supposed to know if as little as five or as many as 15 horses will be in the starting gate, or how strong it will come up? And for all I know, if we said we were going to the Florida Derby all along then maybe some of the horses entered in that race would be pointing for the Wood instead. We're not ducking anyone. All we're trying to do is keep our horse healthy and happy, and get him ready for the first Saturday in May.
Stay Thirsty is ready to run big in the Florida Derby. The extra sixteenth of a mile should only help him; there is no doubt in my mind he will keep getting better as he goes longer. He's bred to run a two-mile steeplechase race. The field has come up very strong; by far the toughest Derby prep of the season. It's a great chance to see where he stands, especially in a race where there might be four or five horses at 5-1 or lower. I just hope and pray that everyone has a safe trip.
Unlce Mo and Stay Thirsty
Photo: Reed Palmer
When I agreed to do this blog, the main reason was to help make Mo and Thirsty more accessible to fans. In continuing to do that, I want to let people know that Mo's new web site, Unclemo.com, is now up and running. Feel free to stop by for all the latest news, photos, and information.
Along with NYRA, I am also running fun promotion. It's called Get to Know Mo, where you can sign up for a chance to meet Mo, Todd, and his jockey Johnny Velazquez. Mo loves being around people, so hopefully you enter for a chance to win!
Once again, I'm overwhelmed by your support and all of the well wishes for both Thirsty and Mo. Hopefully I will see some of you at Gulfstream on Sunday and at Aqueduct next weekend. I'll be back again in a couple of weeks.
All the best,