03/13/2011 1:48PM

Uncle Mo, and Other Saturday Happenings

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Uncle Mo’s successful 3-year-old debut Saturday in Gulfstream Park’s Timely Writer Stakes was not, unlike each of his three performances last year, the sort of effort that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Uncle Mo’s four opponents Saturday were seriously overmatched – although I do think runner up Rattlesnake Bridge has a chance to be a nice horse – and the preliminary 89 Beyer Figure Uncle Mo earned was pedestrian by his lofty standards. The thing is – and this is what distinguishes him from every one of his contemporaries – Uncle Mo’s comeback did not have to be anything more than it was.

Consider, for example, Uncle Mo’s stable mate Stay Thirsty, who earned an indentical 89 Beyer when he won last week’s Gotham Stakes in his 3-year-old bow. Like Stay Thirsty, Uncle Mo was making his first start in four months, so like Stay Thirsty, Uncle Mo has every license to benefit from his return and run much faster in subsequent outings. The difference here, however, is that while Stay Thirsty has a right to show significant improvement in his upcoming starts, there is no guarantee that he will. And that is because Stay Thirsty has never run faster than the 89 Beyer he earned in the Gotham.

Uncle Mo, on the other hand, ran from five to 18 Beyer points faster in his three starts at 2 when a less mature race horse. In other words, we already know that Uncle Mo is capable of running much faster than he did in the Timely Writer. It is, indeed, his default position. So he didn’t have to show it again Saturday. In fact, that Uncle Mo was able to slow down in the Timely Writer and produce sleepy fractions of 25.53 seconds and 49.58 could be taken as more noteworthy than just another display of sheer brilliance. That ability to relax early could be a key asset when it comes to him negotiating 10 furlongs in the Kentucky Derby.

The chasm between the already proven ability to run fast and the promise of potentially being able to do so was underscored Saturday by Brethren, yet another of Uncle Mo’s barn mates. Many expected Brethren, who, like Uncle Mo, was 3 for 3 going into the Tampa Bay Derby, to make a big move forward off the 84 Beyer he earned in the Sam Davis Stakes in his 2011 bow, a figure that only equaled the two he received as a juvenile. (UPDATE, Monday, 3 pm - I just received word that the Beyer folks bumped the winning Sam Davis Beyer up to 85). That’s why he was the 1-2 favorite. It turned out that Brethren had no move forward in him, at least at this point in time. Brethren wound up being exposed by the 43-1 Watch Me Go and the 86-1 Crimson Knight, who was claimed for a princely $16,000 in his prior start. Neither Watch Me Go nor Crimson Knight are even presently nominated to the Triple Crown, but they finished more than three lengths ahead of a weary Brethren while finishing just a neck apart in a race that was awarded a winning Beyer of only 83.

Instead, the “wow” performance Saturday for 3-year-olds was fashioned by Premier Pegasus in the San Felipe Stakes. Yes, I know the insane early pace battle between Runflatout, Albergatti, and Comma to the Top set the San Felipe up to be won by a closer like Premier Pegasus, and was instrumental in the race receiving a winning Beyer as high as 96. Still, a half mile into the race, Premier Pegasus was only two lengths head of the highly regarded Jaycito, the favorite, a closer, and winner of the Grade 1 Norfolk last fall. Premier Pegasus was 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Jaycito six furlongs into the San Felipe, yet when the two were the first two under the wire, there was a near eight length gap between them. Granted, Premier Pegasus had an advantage over Jaycito of an outing this year. But it should be noted that the San Felipe was the first time Premier Pegasus had the opportunity to go the two turns he was bred for.

A couple of quick thoughts on some other stuff: I keep on expecting Tackleberry to come back to Earth, and he keeps on refusing to do so. He has had some meet at Gulfstream, winning the Sunshine Millions Classic, the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship, and now Saturday’s Gulfstream Park Handicap. Heck, that would be a good year for most horses…After the 45-1 Miss Match nailed the 4-5 Switch in Saturday’s Santa Margarita Invitational at Santa Anita, I decided that nine furlongs is just too far for Switch…Regarding the Life At Ten mess, I was always under the impression that if a horse was not right in pre-race warm ups, it was incumbent on the jockey to say something to someone in authority at the gate. When did that change?

Owen James More than 1 year ago
Uncle Mo is ideally bred for middle distances and I don't expect him to win the 137th Derby which will have true sprinter-milers such as The Factor worrying him for at least a mile. I was very impressed with the scintilating run by Perfect pegasus who is bred for the Derby distance. I also expect good runs from stalker-stayers such as the Victory Gallop colt Jaycito and Soldat. Perfect Pegasus' last run is reminiscent of Eskenderia's in the Wood memorial last year. Over all I don't expect an Indian Charlie colt to win the Derby and I expect Uncle Mo to show stamina limitations after nine furlongs.
Steve More than 1 year ago
Mike - Uncle Mo is a great "miler" who is out-running his pedigree, as do many precocious, very nice horses his age. His tractability is certainly an asset. But anything under 100 Beyer in the Wood will make him an underlay Derby Day. We may look back on his career and say the Champagne last year was his peak.
RiverCitySmitty More than 1 year ago
I have no problem with Uncle Mo's paid workout last week as he already has sufficient graded money for Louisville. That being said, he isn't near the top of my list for the KyD. I'm expecting another full field with fast splits @ CD. I've been keeping watch on Willcox Inn who ran a decent second in the Grindstone in his 3yo debut. Still elligible for NW2 and never on real dirt, but finished third against Soldat and Santiva (both were 2nd) and they've been highly touted. Rosie riding in the Roses would be good for the sport. Willcox needs a W or P in the BG @ Kee to ensure sufficient earnings. If that occurs he could be a big surprise in Louisville.
Tommy D. More than 1 year ago
Yes, Tackleberry is the real deal,just ask his trainer and the jockey who by the way is very refreshing to see somebody else in the saddle other then the big name jockeys...I commend the trainer for this as well as the jockey and particuarly the main man....none other then TACKLEBERRY!! Win or lose he is the man right now, I don"t care what else anybody says or thinks.....I hope that he stays sound and as you know, the horse comes first...I have been a racing fan for a long time now and I wager some money here and there but I always like to see when these fine animals run their hearts out win or lose and when I see one break down it makes me very sad and I have cried on more then one occasion....I don"t care if it is a five thousand dollar claimer or another Tackleberry, I guess it is part of the game and one that is unfortunetly happens, what can I say, I am human and I love animals so again I thank you Mr. Olivares...your horse has brought back memories and I know a good one when I see one, some that come from own observation are holy bull, mecke, little bold john and a few more that comes to mind but give Luis credit for a job well done and well deserved...that goes for the jockey too...Thanks for the enjoyment, I am just an average joe that likes to write and give credit where credit is due!!
Robert More than 1 year ago
I waited all spring to see Uncle Mo run, even considered a 4 hour drive to Tampa. I didn't make the 20 minute drive to Gulfstream for the pathetic Timely Writer. Taking Mo north looking for another very soft race makes a mockery of the sport. And the Pletchers of racing wonder what happened necessitating freakin slot machines to keep their sport relevant!
Clem Kadiddle More than 1 year ago
Uncle Mo will get whipped in his next race. A lucrative payoff awaits those who follow this advice. Let's just say that you don't run 22 and change in the last quarter and expect to repeat...
jim tully More than 1 year ago
Granted, the slow early fractions of the Timely Writer resulted in a slow time, resulting in the soft Beyer. However, 18 points off a career Beyer is quite a gap. The way I look at it, Stay Thirsty picked up where he left off and Uncle Moe did not. Considering their pedigrees. One would think Stay Thirsty has more of a right to improve and since his prep came around two turns, I give him a slight edge for the moment. Made a small bet on Inglorious for the Oaks. She ran level with Kathmanblue in the stretch at FG without the benefit of a race and in her first start on dirt. I think she has huge upside.
Nick Briglia More than 1 year ago
Babying a horse rarely pays off in the end. Uncle Mo is in serious danger of not having enough seasoning to win the rodeo that is the Derby. The Timely Writer barely even qualifies as a race. Pletcher better hope the Wood turns up a little salty so that someone will actually force Uncle Mo to dig down and fight a little. The Derby is no place for a 3 year old to be forced to become a real race horse. If anything, the Derby might end up being Uncle Mo's first real prep and he could be one of those horses, like Point Given, that misses winning the triple crown because he wasn't ready for the first big dance.
Ken More than 1 year ago
Great comments everyone......Mo is the real deal......fyi.....there's another real deal in Florida who is on most radar screens.......if you look at his pedigree and take all his grandparents and put them up against Mo's you will see a pedigree at least as capable as MO and probably better......he's being labeled as a sprinter....like so many great ones before him have.....but i believe he is not....he just has the ability to sprint.....like Secretariat.......Affirmed......Concistador Ceilo.....Big Brown.....Smarty Jones.....and i think he will aslo go long.......they will have to catch him......his name is Flashpoint.....put him on your radar if your smart...he can run forever...
ARCstats More than 1 year ago
You wrote "Regarding the Life At Ten mess, I was always under the impression that if a horse was not right in pre-race warm ups, it was incumbent on the jockey to say something to someone in authority at the gate. When did that change?" Answer - about the same time all the other logical procedures left the game. And why is it that with all the 3YO Derby preps available, a special race gets written for Uncle Mo and Pletcher. Why not let Pletcher just write the conditions book at every track he runs at? I could site numerous other illogical situations, but why bother? However there is one glaring change that shows no sign of reversing - the multitude of gamblers who continue to turn their backs and walk away from horseracing.