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Kentucky Derby: Uncle Mo in focus
by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie) / T Pletcher / Globeform 125p


Champion juvenile last year, the Todd Pletcher trained Uncle Mo goes into the 137th Kentucky Derby (G1) with something to prove. He won for fun on his seasonal debut, beating Rattlesnake Bridge by 3 lengths in the one-mile Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream Park in March. After such a smooth come-back all was fine and 'the uncle' still a solid favorite for the big race at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. After his second run, however, things were anything but fine. Even his status as a contender, never mind favorite, was on shaky ground. What a difference a race makes.

Faultless up to the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct, where he suffered a shock defeat, not just beaten by one rival but by two, Uncle Mo was subsequently found to suffer from a gastrointestinal tract inflammation. He had every chance in the Wood, where he led into the straight, but found absolutely nothing under pressure. It was quite obvious that something was wrong. He has responded well to treatment since, treatment that has not hindered his training, and it would be rather foolish to write him off. His Breeders' Cup success, achieved here at Churchill Downs, represents form better than any of his rivals have produced. He is classy, that's for sure. Now, whether Uncle Mo will appreciate a gruelling test of stamina, that is an entirtely different matter. His connections were probably pleased to see speed horses like The Factor and J P's Gusto drop out.

Uncle Mo could well end up as the raceday favorite after all, and one thing's for sure: Toby's Corner, who won the Wood Memorial by a neck and a length from Arthur's Tale and Uncle Mo, will not be anywhere near as popular as Pletcher's top colt in the Derby betting. Uncle Mo must bounce back from a dull run though, and the mental effects of that defeat in New York may be hard to gauge something that makes it a worry. The one positive to take out of the Wood is that at least it gave him the experience of having been in a fight. Up to that race, Uncle Mo had just strolled from one win to another. Now he knows better. He does have a lot going for him, and has a realistic shot at emulating Street Sense, the only horse to have completed the BC Juvenile / Kentucky Derby double. Like Uncle Mo, Street Sense also won the BC Juvenile at Churchill Downs.

Uncle Mo was awesome in last year's Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park (beat Mountain Town by 4 lengths) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), when he slammed Boys at Tosconova by 4 lengths with the third placed Rogue Romance another 6 blengths behind. These runaway wins made Uncle Mo the undisputed champion juvenile and, in producing Globeform 125p, he was also as good as the the best three-year-olds and older horses. The son of Indian Charlie looked a bit of a freak in his first season. He cruised home in his debut race at Saratoga last August, and he has since gained the experience of racing at another four tracks.

Indian Charlie, sire of Uncle Mo, was a very speedy runner but he did beat Real Quiet to win the Santa Anita Derby (G1) over 9 furlongs and also managed third behind Real Quiet and Victory Gallop in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He has been best known for siring three high class fillies, all Grade One winners; Indian Blessing, Fleet Indian and Pampered Princess. Uncle Mo's dam Playa Maya, who raced only at three and four, won three of her six races. She was third in the 8.5-furlong Dade Turf Classic (LR) on turf at Ellis Park. She has also produced the four-time winner Forest Voices (Forest Wildcat), who stayed 1 1/16 miles.

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Last update: 2011-04-29 03:48:41 (First published: 2011-04-29 03:13:19 )

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