10/10/2010 11:32PM

Uncle Mo, gentleman juvenile


The sweet-faced boy is, after two starts, a runaway Grade I winner and probable Breeders’ Cup favorite. He also has a Grade I personality.

On his way back to the barn, after his speedy Champagne, Uncle Mo traipsed along with his human cohorts, sometimes bouncing in youthful exuberance, and occasionally letting go with a robust whinny as if to announce his triumphant return to the Pletcher barn.

He seemed happy to get some loving from caregiver Joel Estrada while his legs were hosed off, and he didn’t flinch when a friend of the barn wrapped his arms around the colt’s neck. Uncle Mo was so kind that it was difficult to believe he was the same horse who, less than an hour before, was so competitive.


The people with him sang his praises, boasting about his youthful good nature. He received a kiss on the nose, another pat or two, and then it was time for grass.                 

He seemed unsure what to do, and it took him a minute to drop his head to graze. He clearly enjoyed this quiet time and soon settled in. Joel followed Uncle Mo as the colt's whims carried him around the yard. Yet every so often, Uncle Mo raised his head to intently stare off into the distance. I’ve always found it fascinating: What are horses looking at, when the viewscape seems to hold nothing unusual? 

When gloaming settled in, it was time for Uncle Mo to go in. Of course, by then he did not want to. It was a lovely evening. The grass was good. 

Joel took a few steps toward the barn. Uncle Mo followed, but then stopped. A few more steps. Stop. A tricky angled step or two forward. Stop. 

Joel pointed to the camera and, smiling, said, “One more” - more to the horse than to me. Uncle Mo knew that was his cue. He calmly followed the gentleman back into the barn.


To view more photographs of Uncle Mo after the Champagne, please visit: barbaradlivingston.photoshelter.com/gallery/Uncle-Mo-after-his-Champagne-victory-at-Belmont-Park-10-9-10/G0000_JkwHICfUaA/


Jeff Scott More than 1 year ago
Terrific stuff, Barbara. Thanks very much -- both for this and the earlier photo essay on Rachel Alexandra's last days at Saratoga. This is the kind of thing people are really hungry for -- intimate looks at what goes on behind the scenes with their favorite horses. Here's hoping DRF is going to make this a regular feature. Jeff Scott
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Ms Livingston Great pictures and story...Keep them comming!
WWSTP More than 1 year ago
Barbara...thanks again for injecting the personality and heart of the horse into the story. Don't you wonder what it is they see, or are looking for, when they stare off into those spaces? I heard once that the horse is the only animal, once domesticated, that can make a smooth transition back into their natural and wild environment. They never forget how to live free. I often wonder during those moments of staring into space, if they are remembering who they really are. Then, with a tug of the halter, they return to their benevolent acceptance of where they are.
StormyPeak More than 1 year ago
I read somewhere that the more intelligent the horse, the more they tend to want to look around and stop and study things, and interact with their caregivers more than other horses and it also seems it's those kinds of horses that 'get' what they are out there on the track to do...and that is finish ahead of the other horses. Uncle Mo, as described, and based on his races...seems to confirm all that. Thanks for the wonderful article and sharing the photos. Stormy
Emily Shields More than 1 year ago
I love the second photo, of him actually traipsing with his humans, he looks so happy like "I did it!"
Alysse Jacobs More than 1 year ago
I love how well the photos complement this story, especially the last one. And it's stories like these that make the horses more than just racehorses or machines - it's what racing needs to remind people why we love them.
Anne More than 1 year ago
Romo, I couldn't say it better myself. This is truly what we want to hear. The story of the horse and the people closest to him/her. I noticed myself Uncle Mo's keen interest in the things around him before the champagne. Horses seem to see more than we do at times, since we, humans that is, take everything for granted. Being out of the stall, gives them a chance to see the whole picture of life around them. It is fun to watch, as I too, have wondered what they are thinking as they gaze out into the world. Mr. Repole is so into his horses. When do you see an owner walking along side the trainer and the jockey discussing the strategy of the race? Repole brings his whole family, never sounds bold or arrogant in interviews and truly loves this game, which he has loved since a kid. How refreshing! Let's hope this young "gentleman with the sweet face" will stay healthy and continue his bright future. This truly is another Barbara Livingston moment that we all have grown to love. Thanks Barbara and also thanks to DRF. Smart move!
gwennie More than 1 year ago
Great blog, Barbara. It took your words and your photos to make me a fan of Uncle Mo. Your blogs have made DRF a much more interesting place for a fan like myself, and I will be coming here on a regular basis from now on. Wonderful stuff!!
Dani More than 1 year ago
Barbara - you are a poet in addition to being a tremendous photographer. Thank you for sharing Uncle Mo with us. I'm a real Pletcher fan and it was great to see this rising star from his barn as he goes about his day. This is the kind of thing I love to hear about. The horse's personalities. It brings you so much closer to them, especially when you don't get the chance to see them in person.
Donna-Gayle More than 1 year ago
Barbara, what is equally as joyful as the bounce in Uncle Mo's step, his whinny of juvenile delight--are the smiles and the pride you've captured, seen here, in his handlers. He's a handsome fella surrounded by ones who, obviously, enjoy watching over him.