Derby Mo-Jo: And Down the Stretch We Come

(Part IIII of an ongoing blog authored by Mike Repole, owner of the previous Kentucky Derby favorite, Uncle Mo)

Wow, what a difference three weeks can make.

On April 3, I was sitting comfortable with two horses that were on almost everyone's top 5 Kentucky Derby lists, including Uncle Mo, who was undefeated and the horse to beat. After Stay Thirsty lost the Florida Derby you couldn't find him in anyone's top 10 and almost as soon as Uncle Mo was beaten in the Wood Memorial he was being called Uncle Slow and Aunt Mo. Talk about a rapid turn of events.

These past three weeks have helped reinforce a couple of things for me. First, horse racing is the world's best cure for overconfidence. It seems like I was given a double dose of that. Second, in this game you have to enjoy every win as much as you can because it can be fleeting. In some of my other business ventures like Vitamin Water and Pirate's Booty, I can set long term goals and track success. In horse racing, everything is one day at a time. What's even more frustrating is that I have a lot less control over the outcome. Racing success is 20% planned and 80% luck.

Stay Thirsty's Florida Derby is a toss out for us. It was 90 degrees that day and Thirsty looked like he had been dipped in a pool when he was standing in the paddock before the race. He obviously didn't like having blinkers on either. Since he has arrived at Churchill, Thirsty is doing great. He had a very encouraging work on April 17 when he breezed four furlongs in :48-flat in the mud and on April 24 stepped up and ran a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 in the slop. We are very pleased by the way he has trained. For the Derby, the blinkers will come off and Ramon Dominguez will stay on. His odds will probably about 25-1 or more, but I like Thirsty's chances as much as anyone else.

Stay Thirsty arriving at Churchill Downs.
(Photo: Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs)

Mo's Wood defeat was disappointing. There is no sugar coating it. Do I wish he would have won by eight lengths and been the favorite going into the Derby? Of course. Unfortunately, it didn't happen that way. You cant dwell on the past. You need to live in the present and focus on the future. A few days after the Wood, Mo was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal tract inflammation, which is not what you hope for in a $1 million, grade I race. Ultimately, we were a little relieved when we got the results because it helped explain his un-Mo-like effort. Had there been no reason, we would have been a lot more concerned.

That being said, having a GI infection 26 days before the Kentucky Derby is certainly not ideal. Bad timing? Absolutely. The end of the world? No way. Just look at how many horses have already been knocked off the Derby trail with injuries--Boys at Tosconova, Tapizar, Arthur's Tale, To Honor and Serve, Premier Pegasus, and The Factor to name a few. I feel terrible for those connections. This game is so tough and when you get that close to being one of 20 horses to run in the Kentucky Derby out of approximately 35,000 foals per year, it is very tough to accept.

Despite all the rumors, Mo is 100% physically sound. I addressed this in the NTRA teleconference on Tuesday and I cannot be any clearer about that. It is the owner, trainer, veterinarian's responsibily to ensure that every horse--whether it's a Kentucky Derby starter or a $5,000 claimer--is healthy when he gets to the starting gate. Mo has a great team of vets, both physical and internists, and like all of my horses is being treated with the best care. I sometimes joke with my family that I take care and worry more about my horses health, than my own. As bad as I want both Thirsty and Mo to run in the Derby, I would NEVER sacrifice their health for my own ego.

The good news is that Mo has responded very well to treatment, especially over the last four to five days. His appetite, attitude, and energy have gotten much better. On Tuesday morning, Mo had an excellent work at Churchill with Johnny V aboard. He worked alongside my graded stakes sprinter Calibrachoa, and seperated himself near the sixteenth-pole en route to a five-furlong work in 1:01.69 in the slop. Johnny and Todd were especially encouraged by how easily he did it and his strong gallop out. We couldn't have been any happier with the way he went. Two weeks after the diagnosis of the GI inflammation, we are extremely encouraged about how Mo has responded. When Mo first shipped to Churchill on April 18, Todd said that he would need to have 19 good days to make the Derby. So far, he has had eight. We need to hope he has 11 more. My confidence has never wavered in Mo. He is the best 3-year-old in the country. With any luck from the racing Gods, hopefully he will get to prove it on the First Saturday in May.

Uncle Mo arriving at Churchill Downs.
Photo: Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs

For those of you still in the corners of Thirsty and Mo, I thank you for your support. For those people who are rooting for a different horse, I wish you the best of luck. See you at Churchill.

All the best,


Uncle Mo at Belmont Park.
Photo: Rick Samuels


Leave a Comment:


It's amazing that with one loss most of the bandwagon disappears.  Glad both horses are doing well at Churchill and good luck to you.

Wish someone had some pictures of mo jumping puddles. Spunds like he's feeling good, and he's in my boxes :)

27 Apr 2011 6:13 PM

Mike I'll be on the bandwagon even if the wheels fall off. Hope Mo and Thirsty are both 100% at Derby time and that your dream is realized with a one-two punch. (Show goes to Mucho Macho Man). Those are my sentiments anyway. You're a great guy. Best of luck to you.

27 Apr 2011 7:16 PM

Thank you once again, Mr Repole, for sharing your thoughts and experiences on the road to the Derby.  I was very relieved and happy to hear that Mo had a bit of an excuse for his performance in the Wood and hope he continues on his positive recovery to put in a great run in the Derby.  The Florida Derby was a very odd race and definitely one to toss out for a couple of runners there.  I can't wait to see how Stay Thirsty bounces back come May and wish you the best of luck!

27 Apr 2011 7:33 PM

Mike, thank you for your input during a busy time of year for you. Regarding your comments on full disclosure on horse injuries...why can't the fan and bettors have accurate information about the condition of the athletes we care about and bet on? It is reported in all other major sports. Why is horse racing so relucant to release details about injuries or throat or other conditions?

   This cloak of secrecy hurts the sport in the public's eyes. I have no doubt you would not run a horse that wasn't fit, but it is the public that needs to know about past problems that we can avoid betting on if we don't like it. There are too many trainers who hide the condition of a particular horse and we the public get burned betting on an inferior product. Just one of many reasons why people are turning away from this great sport. Keep up your blog work!  

27 Apr 2011 7:40 PM
Greg J.

Mr. Repole,

Thank you!

I am one person still one hundred percent in Uncle Mo's corner.  I did find it quite amazing how many jumped off Mo's bandwagon after the Wood, I certainly wasn't one of them.

You are a class act, and the sport needs more owners like yourself.  Wishing Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty a safe Kentucky Derby, and see you in the winner's circle.

27 Apr 2011 8:02 PM
Paula Higgins

Mike, I have been in Mo's corner and have never left. He is still number one to me. This horse has too much talent. Steve Haskin agrees and so do quite a few others. You are just a dream owner, upbeat but yet realistic, great sense of humor, available to the fans, and you always put the horse first. It doesn't get better than that. I hope Thirsty gets to the Derby as well and if Mo can't win, then I will root for him. I would absolutely love to see you win the Derby.

27 Apr 2011 8:09 PM

Mr. R., I wish you and your runner safe trip. Whether he's good enuff is yet to be determined.

The question I have, given the physical issues before the Wood, where were the "sharpies" prior to the race. There were a lot of people with race track background that noted the horse seemed to be less than on his toes. I'm sure 'Mo gets the best health treatment, why were the symptoms missed?[ps lose the "3rd person"'re better than that]

27 Apr 2011 8:24 PM

Hi, Mike:

Thanks for your time and comments -- I love Mo, and hope that he continues to thrive in Kentucky, peaking on Derby Day.  You have a great trainer who knows what he is doing -- and, one of your vets, Dr. Allday was my vet when he was in Cali. and he is very smart!!  I know that Mo is getting the best of care!  Good luck to you, Mo and Thirsty!!

27 Apr 2011 8:35 PM

Mike, you are certainly a most credible owner and Mo and Thirsty are most fortunate.  Thank you for the straight talk.  

I hope you win the Kentucky Derby with one of your boys.  Best of luck and safety for all of your horses.

27 Apr 2011 8:43 PM


27 Apr 2011 8:46 PM

Uncle Mo is your Kentucky Derby winner.  I have been saying it for months and I see nothing to change my mind.  After he wins the Derby it's off to the Preakness and Belmont and the Triple Crown !

27 Apr 2011 8:55 PM

Thanks Mike:

I know you must be really excited about getting your chance to win the derby. It is great that you are willing to share your thoughts as you go through this.

Im a big UM fan and hope that somehow your team can pull it off. To be honest Im not a big Todd Pletcher fan but I know he is your man. So best of luck and hope that you have one heck of a party after this years derby.

27 Apr 2011 8:57 PM
Bill in Atlanta

Mike, I am like most others on this blog....very much appreciate your comments and information that you provide about Mo. It gives us a chance to hear from the "horses mouth".....sorry, I couldn't help myself. I was at the BC and watched Mo's awesome run, and no matter who is on who's bandwagon, Mo is a cut above the other 3yo' long as he's healthy.

I was with a group of 30 Georgians at Keeneland for the Blue Grass Stakes. We are trying to get horse racing to Georgia. The owners of Much Macho Man, Dean and Patti Reeves are also from Georgia, and they were nice enough to join us at our Friday evening party. They are a great couple and very down to earth folks. They are extremely excited (Patti said that she is an emotional wreck!) as you are about being lucky enough to have a horse run in the Derby. I would encourage you to take time to meet them. I am positive you will enjoy their company as fellow Derby horse owners.   My money (exacta) and my heart will be on Mo and MMM!  Good luck to you and Mo.

27 Apr 2011 8:58 PM

Mr Repole, thank you for your time in sharing with all of us!!! It is greatly appreciated!!!  I hope you will continue!!! Try to ignore those who choose to be negative!  We really need more people like you in the sport who care about the fans and allow us to be involved in some small way! Best of luck to you and your horses and I wish them a safe trip!!  

27 Apr 2011 9:44 PM

Mr. Repole,

Thank you so much for the postings you have put together on this site for all horse racing fans to read about the dealings with two top class colts leading into the Kentucky Derby!  It has been such a treat to follow these and to go through the second half of the derby prep season with you.

However, I hate to tell you that Mo will not win the Derby for one reason, and one reason only... Draynay has made Uncle Mo the lock for the Derby since day one.  Everyone else on these blogs can attest to the "Draynay Curse" which unfortunately has taken down horses the likes of Rachel Alexandra and Quality Road.

Here is to hoping that Stay Thirsty bounces back with the blinkers off and at odds of 20 or more to one and I can cash a winning ticket for the Derby!

Good luck, and may your horses come home safely!

27 Apr 2011 10:43 PM

Thank you Mr. Repole for being a true gentleman of the sport of kings! I have been and always will be a Mo fan! I wish you best of luck working up to the Derby and hope your dreams come true! Don't let those people with bad attitudes bring you down... Like you said, they are bad for the sport! :)

27 Apr 2011 11:08 PM


Thanks for doing these blogs.  I am one racing fan who is grateful for the time you spend sharing your insight and information about your horses.  I want to thank the Bloodhorse and Jason for giving us this kind of communication with the owner of two KD starters.  This could probably be a once in a lifetime chance to have two starters in the Derby.  What a ride for you!

My wife and I will be in Louisville all week and be guests of Churchill Downs for three nights and Oaks and Derby day for winning last years  This is our dream come true, once in a lifetime trip and we're almost there.

I hope Uncle Mo has one good day at a time and is in the starting gate.  I hope Stay Thirsty is back.  Good Luck!

And may they all be safe!

27 Apr 2011 11:40 PM
Paula Higgins

O.k. here I am at 1:07 a.m. waiting for the tornadoes to pass in the Atlanta area. Been quite a night. It's amazing how calming it is to read about horses and horse racing. I am sure Bill in Atlanta can relate to that and any Alabama bloggers. Hope you are all alright.

28 Apr 2011 1:10 AM

Thanks again Uncle Mike.  It's so cool reading your blogs about UM and being in that amazing position of having not one but 2 Derby prospects. I don't expect medical reports with the race horses any more than I expect it from my competitors show hunters.  It was generous to report on the GTI issue of UM.  I know how secretive horses are in hiding illnesses and how hard it is to figure them out on a daily basis....and I'm good at it- having a barn full of horses and broodies trying to out fox me at foaling time. lol.  The Neigh-sayers have lots of places to post their dribble, and it's not on fan pages or fan blogs.  Continued success Mike....give the horses a carrot from us fans.

28 Apr 2011 8:33 AM

No worries Mike! I hope your boys finish 1 - 2 in the Derby! Good move getting them there early. I think you gotta like the track there and Zenyatta would have beaten Blame if they had her used to that track earlier. Blame, like Mo, loved Churchill. I hope I win the 100k bet contest and I can meet you at the winners party and congratulate you in person. Try to get some rest and enjoy the next week and a half. You've got nothing to prove however the results come out. God speed and a safe trip to all the horses that run. Oh and good luck in the draw!!!

28 Apr 2011 10:39 AM

It would not be a good idea for full disclosure for claiming horses,but for races where an owner might enter an unsound horse such as the derby,it makes sense.Kudos to taxman for your comments.It is time to expose the breeding practices for sale and not for soundness,and this cant hurt in this regard but, IMO will only help.BTW events such as the derby are where the sport can attract new fans,so to be against full disclosure on the horses that is a voice against the sport the way I see it.

28 Apr 2011 1:30 PM
no_mo _mo

uncle mo will not win the ky derby!! I stand firm in my convictions. I was right when I said he would lose soon just before the wood and I'm right again. Sorry Mike but I don't like his chances.

28 Apr 2011 2:17 PM

Mr. Repole, I don't know how you do it ! Know you are a competitive guy and would like to tell some of these people how you really feel, but you are too classy for that. You walk the talk every time ! These bandwagon jumpers are the worst. Your horse(s) will do your talking for you . Thanks for putting the horse(s) first and for being so candid to use the word "ego". Even the best get beat sometime and losing tells you a lot about a person. I for one totally appreciate your availability and for never forgetting the fans. wish there were a hundred more like you and as I said people better appreciate you because while there may be "other" Mo's or Thirsty's there's only one Mike Repole ! YOU are the best !

28 Apr 2011 5:27 PM
Julien Richards 1

I too would like to thank you for your time with these blogs. I think a man like you who have created and developed businesses  before is very used to coming upon road blocks and walls of negativity. In this biz it's no different, many will want to see you fall simply because... the fact that you have prospered shows great tenacity and perseverance. Thank you for raising the standard. And the best of luck on derby day.

28 Apr 2011 6:44 PM
Zen's Auntie

Aunt Mo? Really? Well, I for one wouldnt be LEAST BIT insulted Mike.

Mo is a sure enough special horse and I want to personally thank you for sharing so much of your emotion and enthusiasm with us all.  

Good luck on the 7th you have two really good horses running and maybe with a little luck you can take home the Roses.

My most heart felt Prayer is for safe trips for all of the Horses!

29 Apr 2011 1:01 AM
Jason Shandler

Mo working on Sunday now, with Stay Thirsty.

29 Apr 2011 4:53 PM

Too bad people are so fickle. I've always adored him and that has not changed. Hoping he and all the starters are 100% for the Derby. May the best horse win

29 Apr 2011 5:29 PM


29 Apr 2011 10:40 PM
Jason Shandler

A few people said they are having problems posting comments since B-H has initiated its new website sign in process. If you are having issues, please read this and follow the steps. If you are still having issues, please email me at Thanks and sorry for any problems that you are experiencing. Jason

29 Apr 2011 11:28 PM

Thanks for your participation in communicating with the fans.  Horse racing needs people like you to help tell the story.  Good luck to both of your horses.  I can only imagine the stress involved at that level but even at my level know that you have to take time to enjoy the highs because there are many more lows associated with owning race horses.

30 Apr 2011 2:06 PM

HRTV showed morning workouts on its Pursuit of the Crown show today. Hopefully we will be able to see Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty in their workouts tomorrow May 1st, 12noon EST. Would love that.

Where are all the posters? That many people can't have jumped off the band wagon. They will be sorry. Go Mo! Go Thirsty!

30 Apr 2011 2:48 PM


I have to disagree with you regarding your comment that Uncle Mo is the best 3YO in the country. He has not delivered the best 3YO performance and consequently cannot be classified as same. He might be the 3YO with the best potential but if he has not deliver the best performances he is not the best 3YO in spite of his potential. I happen to think he is a good miler in top class company. Beyond a mile he is vulnerable in good company. It is unlikely that he will be able to escape those launching their challenges from mid pack and the deep closers. As good as he is, he might not hit the board. This will not be reflective of his class or ability but his stamina limitation at the distance.

My evaluation could be totally incorrect and he could serve up a big plate of crow for my consumtion. I doubt it as his running style if one dimensional. He is either on or close to the lead and he will have a lot of company upfront. I think Shackleford is a pace demon that will cause he and others to use a lot of energy early. Shackleford & Twinspired are the horses to beat from the local contingent and Master Of Hounds could win it all.

30 Apr 2011 3:16 PM

Good luck Mo.

30 Apr 2011 5:22 PM

Coldfacts, on Derby Day Uncle Mo will have no problem proving who the best 3 year old is....

30 Apr 2011 7:07 PM
no_mo _mo

I see that Mr. Repole has stated he himself will make Mo the fave come Derby Day if he has to. Please oh please Mike bet him down, bet him down!! Uncle Mo will not win the KY Derby!!

01 May 2011 6:02 PM

Draynay : The only chance Mo has winning the Kentucky Derby is if you stop touting him.  You called his Wood Memorial race and easy race, the first or 4 straight that he'll win and what happens ??

When you were touting Nehro, UM was doing really well with his workout, his infection etc.  Don't start again, we all know you cling on to the favorite everytime so it wouldn't surprise us that you're back on UM.  Just bet your $1000 WIN money on him, no need to tell us the obvious...give Uncle Mo a chance.

01 May 2011 7:51 PM
Mike Relva

Mr. Repole

You have a very good horse,but like Mr. Zito said,there's nineteen others in the race,also.

03 May 2011 8:08 AM
no_mo _mo

Coldfacts, on Derby Day Uncle Mo will have no problem proving who the best 3 year old is....

Draynay 30 Apr 2011 7:07 PM

It won't be him so let's just hope he gets safely out of the way when the cavalry charge goes roaring past him. unca schmoe will not win the Ky Derby!!

03 May 2011 3:41 PM
Mike Relva


I agree with you.

04 May 2011 3:59 PM

Mr. Repole : The posts are drawn, good luck with Uncle Mo from the 18th post.  It's a lot better than the 1 hole.  Just from one horse racing fan to another, let us know if UM is a go.  Hope you're not too carried away by the derby fever this close to the race that you still will let Mo tell you whether he should run or not, whether he's 100% or not.   I'm sure you love the horse and will not put him in that kind of situation.

04 May 2011 6:12 PM

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