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Derby Threat: Uncle Mo

by Ian Tapp

Few could mount a serious case that Uncle Mo was not one of the most talented 2-year-olds American racing has seen in quite a while. He was impressive at six furlongs, brilliant at a mile, and dominant in the 8 ½-furlong Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) that clinched his Eclipse championship. Detractors will remind us that he's made just three career starts, but his talent is unquestionable.

So where will Uncle Mo go from here? This is a perennial winter dilemma in racing, as star juveniles often go one way or the other. Case in point, here are two such talents from racing history who displayed the same kind of 2-year-old ability as Uncle Mo. In fact, all three were champions at 2, and all won the prestigious one-mile Champagne Stakes (gr. I) in fast time, detailed in the table below.

Click for Video
Finish (final ¼)
Seattle Slew (1976) :232 :46 1:10
1:342 (:242)
Devil's Bag (1983) :23 :461 1:094
1:341 (:242)
Uncle Mo (2010) :222 :454 1:102
1:342 (:24)

Seattle Slew was the first foal from Fair Grounds Oaks winner My Charmer. In the immediate family were a pair of champion 2-year-old fillies of the 1940s, plus the very fast sprinter Mr. Prospector, a young Florida stallion with first crop yearlings at the time. Seattle Slew’s sire was the talented Bold Ruler line stallion Bold Reasoning, winner of the Jersey Derby and Withers, second in the Met Mile, and six-furlong track record-holder at Belmont Park. Seattle Slew was from Bold Reasoning’s first crop, though he sired only three due to his early death. Seattle Slew’s pedigree looked like a miler’s, but perhaps Poker, his distance-oriented broodmare sire, could provide more stamina?

Rarely had a 2-year-old been more hyped than Devil’s Bag, and he deserved it. His undefeated championship season was highlighted by five runaway victories, including a six-length score in the Champagne (gr. I) where he broke Seattle Slew’s stakes record, and a five-length romp in the Laurel Futurity (gr. I) while setting a track record. Pedigree-wise, Devil’s Bag had a lot going for him in 1984. Not only was he a son of Halo—sire of the previous year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Sunny’s Halo—but Devil’s Bag was a full brother to Glorious Song, U.S. champion older mare in 1980. Glorious Song won four grade I races at nine furlongs, was a good second to Spectacular Bid in another, and posted three victories at the 10-furlong Kentucky Derby distance. If the sister could get there, why not Devil’s Bag?

A $220K yearling (see his catalog page), Uncle Mo is the third foal from the stakes-placed Arch (TrueNicks,SRO) mare Playa Maya. Arch, who of course sired Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Blame (TrueNicks,SRO), must have imparted some stamina to Playa Maya, as she won three times at a mile or farther despite her dam being a pure sprinter. Uncle Mo’s closest family member to have won a graded stakes is Woods of Windsor, a Woodman colt who captured the nine-furlong Federico Tesio (gr. III), the local prep for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in which Woods of Windsor ran sixth.

Uncle Mo is by Indian Charlie (TrueNicks,SRO), winner of his first four starts including the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), and starting favorite in the 1998 Kentucky Derby, where he finished third to stablemate Real Quiet. Despite a less-than-fashionable pedigree, Indian Charlie has developed into one of Kentucky’s premier stallions (retired at a $10,000 fee, he now commands $70,000). In addition to Uncle Mo, Indian Charlie’s champions are Fleet Indian (2006 older mare) and Indian Blessing (2007 2-year-old filly, 2008 female sprinter).

The cross of In Excess and sons with Kris S. line mares has had outstanding success in limited opportunity, and it rates A++ on TrueNicks. There are four stakes winners on the cross, including two grade I and one grade II, from only 14 starters. Romance Is Diane (by In Excess out of a Kris S. mare) won the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) at 2 but took a while to find her form at 3, losing five times before winning two stakes at the end of the season. Romance Is Diane’s full brother, Romanceishope, won the nine-furlong Del Mar Derby (gr. II). Past this distance is uncharted territory for the cross. See Uncle Mo's TrueNicks Enhanced report below.

From a pedigree standpoint, Uncle Mo has already outperformed. He’s proven more brilliant than anyone could have expected from looking at his catalog page, and now we wonder if the Kentucky Derby distance is within his scope. Racing pundits had the same questions for Seattle Slew and Devil’s Bag. Slew answered the bell, but Devil’s Bag failed to get even nine furlongs, weakening in the stretch of the Flamingo Stakes (gr. I) to finish off the board as the 3-10 favorite. As it turned out, Devil’s Bag wasn't up to the Derby distance. Is Uncle Mo?

Click here to view the TrueNicks Enhanced report for Uncle Mo.

NEW: Mike Repole, Uncle Mo's owner, has a new blog

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Uncle Mo is a very talented racehorse,but some that are already giving him the Derby as well as Triple Crown is absurd. Too may things can happen between now and then. Many were saying the same about Esky last yr and I want Revenge the year before. What happened with that?

Mike Relva 09 Feb 2011 4:33 PM

Many very nice 2 year olds have come and gone since the Great Seattle Slew.  It is most unfair to compare the any horse against Seattle Slew.  Really. Uncle something Mo should be compared against other good two year olds like Favorite Trick and War Pass not Triple Crown winners and Champion Sires like Mr. Slew.

Darren J Fish 09 Feb 2011 4:34 PM

Uncle Mo WILL NOT win the 2011 KY.DERBY. He will win other big races BUT NOT the 2011 Ky.Derby. I said the exact same thing in Feb.2010 about Lookin at Lucky and I was exactly right.

Bloodline Bob 09 Feb 2011 4:41 PM


Like Uncle Mo, Seattle Slew ran three times at 2. He won a maiden, an allowance, and the Champagne in the same time as Uncle Mo. How can you not compare them as 2YOs? They have a very similar profile.

To this point, Uncle Mo is more accomplished than Seattle Slew.


Ian Tapp 09 Feb 2011 5:07 PM

Futures books have him at 4-1 right now....4-1!!!  How crazy is that???  Considering there is over 2 months for something to go wrong (nevermind the 20 horse field bumping and jostling for 1 1/4), it's way too early to tell.

That being said....he looks awfully impressive!

StonesRoy 09 Feb 2011 5:08 PM

Uncle Mo is a fine racehorse.

As far as distance goes he will get buried in the Derby if he even makes to post.

Rodney 09 Feb 2011 5:13 PM

@StonesRoy you can probably get Mo at 4-1 on Derby day!

levant 09 Feb 2011 5:24 PM

I thought Uncle Mo ran the Champagne in 1:34.51? Devils Bag 1:34.20 and SS 1:34.40...Easy Goer & Sea Hero 1:34.80...

Seattle Slew screamed classic horse right from the beginning...we all knew back then he would get better the longer he went. I guess I never saw his "miler" pedigree, LOL!. Boy was he fun to watch run. What a horse.

DP = 7-6-4-5-0 (22)

Rachel 09 Feb 2011 5:42 PM

Rachel, the times are converted to fifths. And SS had plenty of questions left to answer on this date in 1977. He was a 3-race front-runner, had led at every call, and had never been beyond a mile. It's easy to judge with the gift of hindsight.


Ian Tapp 09 Feb 2011 6:13 PM

Tapp strikes again, good food for thought backed by research. ... That said, as a strong believer that you need to give things time and avoid hype, I need to continue to see Slew-like performances on the stretch-out before Mo is placed in that same category.

JerseyTom 09 Feb 2011 6:48 PM

We don't know how good Uncle Mo is yet ...He hasn't been asked ...... At this point , his looks and running style Reminds me of Big Brown , a-lot ....

Waccamaw 09 Feb 2011 8:35 PM

Hi Ian,

Very interesting piece. It hadn't occurred to me, but your analogies are spot on. Your stats and commentary make a compelling argument re-the similarities between Uncle Mo, Seattle Slew and Devil's Bag at end of their 2 yr. old year. I also feel that the pedigrees of Seattle Slew and Devil's Bag (both then, and retrospectively) are approx. par with Uncle Mo. Devil's Bag-1, Seattle Slew-2, and Uncle Mo-3 as to quality of dam, but one could argue that Indian Charlie is a somewhat better sire than either Halo or Bold Reasoning (but his brief career was quite good). That all said, it was then my perception that Seattle Slew (at 2) was more talented than Devil's Bag (at 2), and that Uncle Mo falls somewhat between the two. It's difficult, though, to point to any statistic or specific observation to support my contention, least of all the competition each faced at 2. For that matter, Boys At Tosconova may be better than any of Seattle Slew's or Devil's Bag's opponents at 2. Still, there was just something about Seattle Slew (at 2) that gave one confidence about his true greatness--for example, had he not gone on to excell as he did, I would have sought him out as a stallion to breed to nonetheless. I couldn't/can't say the same for Devil's Bag or Uncle Mo-and this from one who is a true admirer of Indian Charlie. So I suppose what I'm getting at is a perceived difference in "style" (very vague term-type of carriage, verve and "look") between a Seattle Slew, and a Devil's Bag or Uncle Mo. This intangible + style was also evident in a Buckpasser, Graustark, Dr. Fager, and even a Fappiano. I'm not suggesting that it alone can carry the day (Devil's Bag, for example, was perhaps more talented a runner than Fappiano), and I've noticed it even in cheaper horses, but it is still how I would distinguish a Seattle Slew from a Devil's Bag and Uncle Mo. I should also add that-to my eye- many of racing's deemed greats or almost greats such as, Cigar, A P Indy, Skip Away, etc. didn't have it. So, an Uncle Mo just might prove to be among the exceptions. As far as his pedigree- The Indian Charlie over the Arch-this is an example (albeit somewhat distant) of what I've seen as a potent "nick" between Indian Charlie and Hail To Reason-line mares. It's been a nick almost as effective as the Indian Charlie-Mr. P.-line mare nick. One could posit that the Nothirdchance linebreeding could be contributory, but it's rather distant.    

sceptre 09 Feb 2011 10:43 PM

I thought both North American and European champion 2 year old colts were very exciting to watch, Uncle Mo and Frankel.

But as history has shown so many times we need to take a wait and see approach on both colts until they actually appear on the racecourse as 3 year olds. Uncle Mo will re-appear in the Tampa Bay Derby and Frankel who is wintering well, they seem to favour the 7 furlong Greenham Stakes at Newbury rather than the one mile Craven Stakes at Newmarket at this time for his prep race for the 2000 Guineas.

On a side note the promising young Canadian-Bred horse Queen'splatekitten got his 3 year old campaign off to a good start in a mile race at Gulfstream. He has now won on polytrack and turf in his two starts. Will a race on dirt be coming soon?

John T 09 Feb 2011 10:43 PM

You mention two year olds of the last 30 years, and Easy Goer was not mentioned? I mean, Easy Goer ran 116,113,110 beyers in the Champagne in 1:34.4, Cowdin and a 6.5f allowance in 1:15.2, and broke his 7f maiden in 1:22, with a 104 beyer. And to have the campaign he had as a three year old also.

ThoroGreats 09 Feb 2011 10:51 PM


Seattle Slew, Devil's Bag, and Uncle Mo fit a similar profile. All were undefeated champion 2YO front-runners, all won the Champagne in similar time, all had tons of hype going into their 3YO seasons, and all had/have similar questions about stamina in their pedigrees.

Easy Goer, while certainly a tremendous 2YO and 3YO, doesn't fit this profile. He lost twice at 2, had a much different running style, and was quite stoutly-bred.


Ian Tapp 09 Feb 2011 11:08 PM

Curious....Will ANY of the current 3yr. old crop run a triple digit Beyer... Before The Derby???? Mo has accomplished that, as well as displaying a turn-of-foot None of these current colts have shown, and not to mention the fact that alot of "young horses" tend to have issues w/ the surface @ Churchill...NOT MO!!!!!!! History is 'bout to be made if Mo progresses "a little bit"...The other horses need to improve ALOT, just to place against the other horses in the current crop...They would need to be considered "SPECIAL" to catch MO and 'till now None will!!! I'm waiting for THS to run cause HE is the ONLY one Mo should concern himself with going into this early 3yr. old campaign! This post may open some eyes and make others wince into a "To early to tell tirade", MO IS special already and Tampa is looming for THE PROOF!!!

The Bid 09 Feb 2011 11:30 PM

Where did they run the B.C. Juvenile last November? Where do they run the Kentucky Derby?

He handled a surface many horses disliked during the B.C. event.

If you wanna make proclamations that Mo will not win the derby. Keep doing it and shout louder. I'll take 8/5 and your money all day long!

He may not win but he'll be runnin' and right there at the wire (IMO).

WinnahPickah 10 Feb 2011 6:40 AM

Another colt who was suspect at a Derby distance was Secretariat. The minute he lost the Wood Memorial, people said he was unsound, that he could not get the Derby distance, mainly because of the Bold Ruler line. The pedigree influence is nice, but to say that every colt/filly by the same dam/sire will perform equally is false. Look at The Bride full sister to Secretariat, or Masda, full sister to Man o' War. Neither amounted to much. Secretariat transcended the Bold Ruler curse, however, so clearly, cookie cutter genetics is a specious argument.

Uncle Mo did have a his first workout, which was 3 seconds slower than Stay Thirsty, a colt he handily beat last year, so maybe his competition has caught up to him, or the trainer didn't want to push him. Mo is slated to make his 1st start in the Tampa Bay Derby, and then the Wood Memorial. if he buries his fields in each of those, and improves off his 108 Beyer in the BC Juvenile, then he ought to have a clear path to victory in The Derby. Let's not forget Hoist The Flag, Landaluce, or Arazi, who was never the same after bone chips were removed from his knees.

At this point, I believe Uncle Mo can win the Triple Crown, and that no other colt/filly will ever seriously challenge him. I'd be frustrated as a rival trainer to know that no matter what I did, my colt was running for second. After all, how many colts go from a Maiden stakes win to a Graded stakes? Not many...except Uncle Mo. Secretariat finished 4th in his first start, so Uncle Mo is certainly one to watch. But don't count on beating him.

Jon 10 Feb 2011 8:56 AM

best quality of Uncle Mo is his movement and character. If he's trained well he should win the derby.

peggy7 10 Feb 2011 9:15 AM

Uncle Mo will not win the KY Derby. I think this is the deepest field since the '07 season with Street Sense, Curlin, Hard Spun, Rags To Riches, Tiago, Any Given Saturday, Circular Quay, Ravel, Dominican, Great Hunter, Nobiz Like Shobiz, Zanjero and others. If I had to pick a Derby winner right now I would take To Honor And Serve. He's been my #1 since last October. I love his pedigree with all the stamina influences (DP: 4-6-11-1-0, DI: 2.38, CD: 0.59) like his BMS, Deputy Minister, who was 2007 BMS of the year and has produced some awesome daughters like Better Than Honour (Rags To Riches and Jazil), Sherriff's Deputy (Curlin) and Pilfer, THAS's dam. THAS also has Nijinsky and Graustark through his 3rd dam, Our Tina Marie, who are both chef-de-races designated Classic/Solid. So, he has plenty of stamina to excel at the Classic distances. He has a great tail-female line and comes out of Family 4 which goes all the way back to Cub Mare (4-r). Family 4 has produced some of the best Classic winners ever, the most recent being Monarchos. It has produced 17 KY Derby winners. Family 4 has also produced the most winners from the Preakness and Belmont. THAS's sire, Bernardini, also comes out of Family 4 (Magnolia, 4-m). So, we know THAS has the stamina from his pedigree and he's already won at 1 1/8m. He has the speed as well winning the Nashua setting fast fractions on the front end finishing the mile in 1:35.86 and was not even touched by Lezcano. and geared down nearing the wire. This is my guy and he's only going to get better! Watch out, Mo!!

austinbnike 10 Feb 2011 9:18 AM

Uncle Mo is fast, but distance remains a question.  Comparing the 3 runnings of the Champagne, Uncle Mo lifts his knees higher and pounds the track harder than Slew or Devil's Bag.  I simply feel his stride may be his undoing, and I can't really back him.  (Even though I would like to).  I know he can run on the front.  What will UM do when a wall of horses are in front of him?  Slew was a bully on the track, and he was able to force his way to the front.  We know Machen can do that too.  In the BCJ, Uncle Mo wasn't stretching out as much as he was leaping from stride to stride.  I find To Honor and Serve glides around the track effortlessly, while Rogue Romance can really stretch out when needed.  Both need to add speed, but both are more likely to last through the season than UM.

Slew 10 Feb 2011 9:49 AM


It tickled me that you reached as far back as you did to mention Man O’ War’s sister Masda….. I love studying bloodlines and it was fun to read that someone else connected those dots.  I am with you on the Uncle Mo train.  I do wish he had a more “majestic” name.  I am reminded of C.W. Anderson who in one of his books has a chapter titled “Give a Boy a Good Name”.  Still I’ll have no trouble shouting “Come on Mo, show ‘em who you are!”.

Especially Horses 10 Feb 2011 10:00 AM

Slew: C'mon pal, you're better than this. You're complimenting Machen about being a "bully on the track," and saying Rogue Romance "can really stretch out," yet you easily find fault with Mo? Machen ran so slow he would have trouble beating claimers in most races and Mo dusted Rogue Romance by 10 and was laughing at him while he crossed the wire. Yes, both horses need to "add speed,", and while they're at it they also need to sprout wings in the next three months. You're overanalyzing too much. Here is the question you need to ask yourself: Who is the fastest horse? I have made it very easy for you.

Jason Shandler 10 Feb 2011 10:48 AM

Please don't cut short Devil's Bag place as a great colt. He fell short not of his own doing but quite a questionable judgement to run in the Derby trial in my mind. 9 starts and 8 wins and all of them in breath taking form.

I always pull for a horse that has the most talent (Uncle Mo this year) because I want to see greatness. Uncle Mo is our best chance. We're coming off a great year to be able to see Zenyatta. Strangely she proved it more in defeat to the majority of her doubters. Every year the anticipation to find a legend such as the ones in the 1970's falls short. I really thought Smarty Jones had it.  

Gary 10 Feb 2011 11:06 AM

A fine piece of writing indeed! I enjoyed it immensely. I for one feel that Uncle Mo will be able to run a mile and a quarter in the Kentucky Derby. After all, Indian Charlie’s daughter Fleet Indian twice won major stakes races at a mile and a quarter. Having Arch as a broodmare sire should help too.

The fact that Uncle Mo has already proven victorious over Churchill Down’s main track is a big plus. He will have an advantage in May over many of the other three-year-olds, as I’m sure that a number of them will enter the Derby having never run over the track before.

Assuming that Uncle Mo draws a good post position in the Derby, I believe that he will be able to secure a perfect trip. He has a lot of natural speed that should enable to him to get a good stalking position. He has the speed and ability to take the lead as the field turns for home. The only question is, can he keep it? At this point, I think he'll have every chance.

Finally, perhaps this was simply my imagination, but in the Breeders’ Cup, did it seem like his stride was considerably longer than that of his rivals?


-Keelerman 10 Feb 2011 11:25 AM

Comparing Uncle Mo to Seattle Slew is absurd. 2 year old champions have a very poor history at the Kentucky Derby which is a crap-shoot because of the large field size anyway. With fans being as fickle as they are these days, if Mo has even a couple of off races he will likely end up getting about as much respect as Super Saver.

Giddyup 10 Feb 2011 11:26 AM

Giddyup, how 2YO champs transition to 3 is the entire point of this blog. Did you even read it? Let me copy and paste my comment from earlier:

Like Uncle Mo, Seattle Slew ran three times at 2. He won a maiden, an allowance, and the Champagne in the same time as Uncle Mo. How can you not compare them as 2YOs? They have a very similar profile.

To this point, Uncle Mo is more accomplished than Seattle Slew.

Ian Tapp 10 Feb 2011 11:38 AM

Whoa. ... Shandler is better than this. ... Time is a function of many things, so don't give it too much weight. ... Maybe underanalyzing???

JerseyTom 10 Feb 2011 11:40 AM

I agree uncle mo is a talented horse,but i have some concerns about him getting ten furlongs. He has beaten mediocre horses and overpowered what looks to be yet another weak 3 yr old crop of horses. I feel we have another over-hyped 3 yr old a la  war pass,devils bag,arazi etc...this leads me to Dialed In,a horse with the perfect running style to conquer the rigors of the derby and is bred to run all day lookout!!!

streetsense777 10 Feb 2011 12:45 PM

I attended the Breeders Cup this year.I was sitting right off the rail near the finish line.Uncle Mo's performance almost took my breath away! I thought Johnny V moved a little too early at the top of the stretch but he knew how much horse he had!Made a tidy sum that date,but it's sad to say it might be the best odds I'll ever get on him.He is the real deal!!!The only concern I would have is if the connections of To Honour and Serve wise up and put Calvin Borel on him then it would be game on!

MattM 10 Feb 2011 1:54 PM

Tes you can't compare Uncle Mo to Slew because he accomplished more than Slew did at 2 and he ran the best debut ever. He's bred for speed and stamina being inbred to Nearco and he hasn't missed a beat during training. Eskendreya, I Want Revenge, War Pass, and Favorite Trick in the same sentence as Uncle Mo? Don't make me laugh.

learn a little something about racing and breeding before making a fool of yourselves. If Big Brown and the rest of the bums who have won the Derby over the past 30 years pulled it off then Uncle Mo should be 1-9 to win the Triple Crown.

Tim 10 Feb 2011 3:39 PM

ITapp you show every report in a very professional way and i do admire that because it can help me to remember a forgotten though.now when i see the example table i just remember three things i am not sure the distant was the real problem for devil's bag,you did mention glorious song his full sister but not his also full brother saint ballado who had no seasoning to run in Lil a tee's derby but ran a beyer of 117 at AP in a gradeII race at 9 fur. as a three year old and did sire capt.bodgit who won the wood memorial then ran 2d in the KD to silver charm and the h.t.reason line particularly the devil's bag family had history of physical problems i do not think it was distance the problem he had, i do see the same year devil's bag was out of the derby a colt by Seattle slew name swell his stable mate won the derby for him with same trainer mr woody so Claiborn farm went to the derby winner's circle anyway .

cuban chef de race 10 Feb 2011 4:04 PM


Thanks. The reason I didn't mention Saint Ballado is because he wasn't born when Devil's Bag was a 3YO. The references to Seattle Slew's and Devil's Bag's pedigrees were as they appeared when those horses were beginning their 3YO seasons. Notice I didn't mention Lomond and Seattle Dancer for My Charmer either.

As Sceptre noted in his comment above, this blog is about "the similarities between Uncle Mo, Seattle Slew and Devil's Bag at end of their 2 yr. old year."


Ian Tapp 10 Feb 2011 4:14 PM

well experts in my opinion if uncle mo do not win the derby having a stronger pedigree then his own sire who did finish a close third ,who is going to win? dialed in? to honor and serve?,tapizar? soldat? okay masters i will show you what is no to have a breeding hole in the first three dams,i see you in my winning circle.

cuban chef de race 10 Feb 2011 4:43 PM

What worries me the most about Uncle Mo, is that he is trained by Todd Pletcher.  He does not have a good track record in keeping a horse healthy to run  for the triple crown.

Jodie 10 Feb 2011 4:44 PM

Devil's Bag was the best 2 yo I ever saw (didn't see Seattle Slew in person)....when he won the Champagne under a hold everyone thought the time had to be wrong....new stakes record under NO urging at all, even Slew got a couple of licks around the eight pole....Plus, Woody was a lot bigger talker than Billy Turner, so DB may have been a bit more 'hyped' than Slew early in his career....No question Uncle Mo is a very nice horse, too, ('great' is way over-used) and it will be interesting to see how his road to the Derby progresses.

I have a sneaking suspicion Uncle Mo may be 'found lacking' through either his sire or the fact they are only planning 2 prep races before the Derby (yes, I know that's been the preferred training pattern recently, but those weren't Indian Charlie's)....he would maybe be able to overcome one or the other, but probably not both.

TKLawless 10 Feb 2011 4:58 PM

If someone could come up with the average number of starts that Indian Charlie gets from all of his male and all of his female runners, I believe this could be an important fact when predicting how Uncle Mo will fare in the brutal triple crown trail.  Class, breeding, raw talent, racing luck and the quality of the ride are all important but durability is not mentioned as often as it should be.

dave york 10 Feb 2011 6:05 PM

tapizar is from family 8-d that has never in 136 years produced a Kentucky derby winner but the great bold ruler sire of the best secretariat,i want to see to honor and serve in a fast pace race to measure him better.

cuban chef de race 10 Feb 2011 6:16 PM

well,dialed in will run all day but after the owner put him on a horse trailer,with that running style he will see the Berlin wall in front of him,too late to smell the roses.

cuban chef de race 11 Feb 2011 12:03 AM

What a great debate---Having been a UK based pro gambler for 35 years and seen every B Cup(attended 5) plus many of the very Best USA horses, this discussion has a number of points that maybe an outsider can make best. With several mares in Kentucky and Ireland the breeding comments do not pass me by though to these eyes getting the extra distance at Louisville seems more likely than not based on his last win.

The Derby is a rough race that takes no prisoners and is run at a frenetic pace which sorts out the men from the boys. Depending on what requirements each individual horse needs with running style etc etc there is no doubt that NO participant has ever ran in a race like it until the big day itself no matter how many trial he has had. Luck in running and stall position as we know can be vital while off this frenetic pace we have seen some horses come from last to first with a brave mans ride.

That said Uncle Mo is unaware of all this and there is little doubt his 2010 achievments are top drawer with the times similar to S Slew and Devils Bag as has been illustrated here. Although I do not like to compare times of a differing day the fact that Mo did a 3 second faster time that the fillies race the day before tells me something as does the trainers comments. On the day itself in the GB market place Victor Chandlers firm were 13-8 (sorry for archaic British fractions) about Uncle Mo while the other firms (a lot of them) went between 9-4 and 5-2 a massive difference. The Chandler firm were spot on and since Michael Tabor owns around 95% of this Gibralter based offshore operation, one might percieve that he himself (Todd Pletchers biggest client?) was involved in that at the time under odds decision. Mo deserves his position in the Derby market that is undeniable whether or not punters take the 4/1 on the futures is up to the individual same as buying a pair of shoes or liking blondes or brunettes. Me ----I am a big fan of the best young horse America has seen for decades and I hope he trains on and thrills the racing public----we need it.

English Handicapper 11 Feb 2011 4:45 AM

People who doubted a Bold Ruler could win the Derby had history on their side; for a decade and more, champion and SW sons of that stallions had regularly disappointed in May. They may have won at 10f or more later in their careers, but they weren't ready to do it at Derby time. Temperament, mostly. Secretariat had no 'Nasrullah temperament' to betray him, but many fans, like me on the West Coast, who hadn't seen him live, wouldn't know that.

Sceptre, if you think Indian Charlie is a better sire than Halo was, you better go back to class. Aside from Canadian HotY and US champion Glorious Song, Halo got HotY Sunday Silence, Kentucky Derby winner Sunny's Halo, CCAO & KyO winner Goodbye Halo (the filly who was lapped on Winning Colors and Personal Ensign in the BC Distaff), Jolie's Halo (GP and Donn Hcps), etc. How many times has Indian Charlie been leading North American sire? Halo did it twice. And he was doing it with the 40-mare books which was the norm back then; Indian Charlie's crops average over 70.

Pedigree Ann 11 Feb 2011 10:02 AM

Pedigree Ann,

The pedigree/sire comparisons are relative to when these horses were entering their 3YO seasons. Sunday Silence, Goodbye Halo, Jolie's Halo, etc. hadn't been born yet, so you couldn't have used them as a gauge for Devil's Bag in 1984.

I agree with Sceptre; you could make the case that Indian Charlie in 2011 is a better sire than Halo was in 1984.


Ian Tapp 11 Feb 2011 10:30 AM

a derby winner can come from anywhere. i dont doubt that mo is a great horse and is very freakish. but with twenty horses in the field alot can go wrong. the best horse loses probably 9o percent of the time. go back and check the average field size in the 70s and you will be surprised that that number is no where near twenty.i think the derby is a jockeys race. that race is won by alot of human judgement  and there lost by it to.if mo loses a prep race that will be the end of the derby dream.i think pletcher will win it just with a little less known horse.just my opinion ,yall keep arguing your point.

jamie d 11 Feb 2011 10:40 AM

Halo was leading North American sire in 1983 and that wasn't all Devil's Bag and Glorious Song. His first crop arrived in 1976 and Devil's Bag was in his 6th crop. Indian Charlie's first crop arrived in 2000 and Uncle Mo is in his 10th crop. Indian Charlie has never ranked higher than 16th on the general sire list, even with BC race winners. I still contend that Halo was more highly regarded as a sire, and particularly as a sire of staying stock (he did win the UN Hcp and the Lawrence Realization, after all) in 1984, than Indian Charlie is today.

Pedigree Ann 11 Feb 2011 12:18 PM

Uncle Mo is from his 9th crop, but yes, your points are well made.

Ian Tapp 11 Feb 2011 12:24 PM

Pedigree Ann-

Firstly, I suppose one should assume that your comments about Bold Ruler is way of analogy to Uncle Mo's sire, Indian Charlie. Fact is back then the inability of the Bold Rulers to win at 1 1/4M against top company (a different "breed" of top company as compared to now) was far more apparent than is the case with the Indian Charlies (against today's "breed" of top company). I also doubt that the "*Nasrullah temperament", in Bold Ruler's case, had much to do with it. For example, (and there were many), Derby favorite and 2 yr. old Champion Bold Lad was not, as I recall, a headstrong type (nor was his full-brother Successor). The Derby's 10 furlongs was just simply beyond his scope-relative to the more distance loving types of that day. This relative lack of capacity has as its cause(s) many more factors than mere temperament. I am aware of the stories about *Nasrullah's temperament, and how it compromised his racing career/and ability to go longer. "Temperament's" manifestation, though, unlike those of many other genetic phenotypes is fairly apparent. I don't recall noticing/reading/hearing back then that it was the temperament of the Bold Rulers (they two generations removed from *Nasrullah himself) which played a significant role in their relative inability over longer distances. All too often (particularly as it relates to thoroughbred breeding) a single piece of data is "enlarged" to explain outcomes where more often their causes are multiple...Lastly, re-your point about Halo vs Indian Charlie. I do feel that Halo was a good sire, but truth is I consider Indian Charlie the better-comparing total careers to total careers (and opportunity). I'm sure that many/most would disagree, but that's how I see it. Incidentally (and as an aside), the fact that Halo served smaller books than an Indian Charlie is not relevant to your position-book size as it relates to these two stallions is relative to their day. It is just as difficult, if not moreso, for a stallion to sire a Champion, or major SW, today as it was back then.      

sceptre 11 Feb 2011 12:37 PM

Pedigree Ann-

I just read your follow-up post (posted before my reply (to you)). I grant that Halo was a good, perhaps very good, stallion. I don't agree that, back in EARLY 1983 he was regarded as well as Indian Charlie is today. One need not look further than a review of their stud fees 1983/2011 relative to their peers--this all said, because you seem to be using the-how well they were "regarded" card-in making your argument. When I stated (in my first post) that one could argue that Indian Charlie is a somewhat better sire than was Halo (then)-it was said because I believe it, and believe a good argument could be made in support. As far as what others may believe, I think that relative stud fees (1983) and auction records (1982/2010-relative to prices of their day) might shed some light. Just from memory, haven't done any research, but I think it'll bear me out. Yes, Halo as a racehorse had a better staying resume than did Indian Charlie, but Indian Charlie had demonstrated that he was more than just a miler and, perhaps more importantly, was the more talented racehorse. I do not grant that Halo as a sire was appreciably better (for his day) at siring staying stock than is Indian Charlie (for today). Perhaps more importantly, Halo received a better quality book of mares for his crops leading to the birth of Devil's Bag than did Indian Charlie leading up to Uncle Mo's birth...Now lastly (for now), I'll offer an opinion that which likely no one will agree-I'd say odds are that Indian Charlie was more talented than Uncle Mo, and is a better stallion than will be Uncle Mo (of the latter, many will agree).  

sceptre 11 Feb 2011 1:39 PM

I love all the great analizings of Uncle Mo. Nice horse, but I always analyse the Kentucky D three weeks before the race.

All  you very smart guys know that the more info you have to process the better your chances of coming up victorious.

Mr.G 11 Feb 2011 2:44 PM

sceptre i think you are off when you think indian charlie was a better stallion  than halo in 83 compared to now. he just had a kentucky derby winner and one of the favorites in devils bag.he eventually had another derby winner in sunday silence and some derby runner ups. i think even if mo wins he will never be as regarded as high as halo. granted indian charlie had to work  for his mares. but halo has produced winners on both sides of the pond.his legacy can still be seen from thru japan and south america to this day.  

jamie d 11 Feb 2011 2:59 PM

i do not remember how many AP Indy sons and grandsons have ran in the Kentucky derby but i think they have been quite a few,the closest to win was aptitude by AP Indy out of a northern dancer mare and second dam was alluvial by buckpasser  what a breeding.now forget the Preakness if bernardini as nice colt as he was do face barbaro in that one derby he was going to see the derby was not the Preakness,and  the other AP Indy blood last year ice box the pace was made for him had a belmont winner and a k.d winner tabasco cat and alysheba plus derby winner spend a buck's dam in third dam the only knock was the 6 weeks brake ,the last nasrullah line to win?a filly winning colors and she was as brilliant at 3 as uncle mo was at 2 they want ap indy to revive this line and did forget to breed good mares to less popular nasrullah line stallions.that is my opinion .i do feel tapit has a more balance pedigree to sire a derby winner then bernardini with pulpit-unbridled-nijinskyII,speed,class stamina.

cuban chef de race 11 Feb 2011 4:08 PM

jamie d, pedigree ann-

Believe me, I'm not ridiculing anyone for believing that Halo was a better sire (as of '83, or now) than Indian Charlie. I was aware of the facts you offered-before making my initial post. There are other relevant facts, however, perhaps those that you are not privy to. I tried to offer some and I believe (if you're interested) thorough research might just change your minds-but not all reality can be found solely through printed words and stats. It reminds me of what I've said before- there's simply no good substitute for following racing closely. All easy for me to say, and I'm aware that my words here neither prove, nor offer much evidence for my contention (re-Halo vs Indian Charlie). My guess is that many of those who were then/now students of the sport-had followed racing closely during all those years- would agree with me. While we're on this tangent, I'd like to point out something else. A while back I offered the opinion that Secretariat on whole was damaging to the breed. I came by this because I felt that Secretariat (at stud) "wasted" many years of the highest quality broodmares. I mention this again now, because I feel that similar, albeit to a lesser extent, can be said for Devil's Bag. This all said because some reading this blog may come away (through inference) with the notion that Devil's Bag is an influence to "cherish"-this, to me, would add insult to injury, given that I believe he had already "wasted" years of breeding quality of many of our better/best mares. You see, this blog causes one to focus on a Devil's Bag-to marvel at his exemplary pedigree, his overall race record (lost but once), his championship year, etc. There has also been reference to his sire's accomplishments at stud and, perhaps, some overenthusiasm about Halo's racing abilities. A bit more on Halo-He was certainly royally bred, in particular his dam was among the greats of her era (and considered as such well before her "nephew" Northern Dancer made his impact at stud). But Halo was one of Cosmah's lesser lights as a performer-despite what some stats might tell you. Tosmah was her true masterpiece-up til that time the most talented filly I'd ever witnessed-, and Father's Image was also more talented than Halo. Maribeau's career was abbreviated, but I considered him also superior to Halo. Tosmah, with her talent and pedigree (Tim Tam was a wonderful broodmare sire and royally bred) might well have become a cherished name in pedigrees today-a source of superb quality, perhaps not unlike a Mumtaz Mahal, but her broodmare career was essentially wasted due to misinformed (and or egotistic) owners. I respond to some of these blogs mostly in an attempt to prevent mistakes such as what befell Tosmah. It is directed not so much at the fans of this sport (and bloodlines), but to those who may be in a position to shape the breed's future-people like Ian who have the obvious talent, and because of this the later connections and audience to make a difference.      

sceptre 11 Feb 2011 5:23 PM

Jason...Not over analyzing anything.  I always watch a horse's stride on the track, and his attitude when he's eye to eye with a competitor.  Uncle Mo is undoubtedly fast...no arguments.  But for how long can he maintain his speed pounding the dirt as hard as he does. Will he stay sound?  Machen was held back, and had to check several times, almost running over the horses in front of him.  Only when he broke through did he take off quickly.  Uncle Mo has never been in that position...behind horses.  What if he is?  Sorry...you are under-analyzing.  20 horses...anything can happen in the bumper car Derby.  Wasn't your pick last year Odysseus?

Slew 11 Feb 2011 7:14 PM

Uncle Mo has too many middle distance influences to be taken seriously at 10 furlongs.  Indian Charlie, Dixieland Band, Althea and Danzig. A sloppy track might help.

zrtyk 12 Feb 2011 1:00 AM

go ahead, laugh at me now, but my derby horse is Sequoia Warrior.

Mike from Ossineke Michigan 12 Feb 2011 2:20 AM

Finally we have a race horse that can win the Triple Crown '

'UNCLE MO" Get readt and go for the GUSTO!!!!

JCranston 19 Feb 2011 11:21 PM

Seattle Slew is the King of race horses. He may rate second to Secretariat, but Slew was the King. He is said to be the most complete race horse ever. And if you look at what he did and how many great horses he sired, Seattle Slew is the King who has created his own royalty. A fairy tale like history, doubted by the snobs, but unconquerable as a race horse and proven as a Champion Stallion. Died 25 years to the day he won the Kentucky Derby, on May 7th! He is the King when you look at his history and great feats, his linage stands as the greatest sire of racehorses. Seattle Slew the King, was also called, The Dark Knight of racehorses.

Don 07 May 2011 3:46 PM

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