03/16/2011 4:01PM

Uncle Mo's Mile


A ballyhooed, undefeated 2-year-old champion makes his first start as a 3-year-old and posts the lowest speed figure of his career on the same card where Grade 2 older horses run the same distance 7 or 8 lengths faster. Cause for concern?

I vote no in the case of Uncle Mo's 3 3/4-length victory last Saturday in the Timely Writer at Gulfstream.

His performance earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 89 in his first start since an undefeated juvenile campaign where he ran figs of 102 in his debut, 94 in the Champagne and 108 in the BC Juvenile. His final time of 1:36.56 was 1.33 seconds slower than Tackleberry's in the Gulfstream Park Handicap two races later, which earned a 103 and where the first four finishers were less than a length apart. But considering the extremely slow pace of the Timely Writer, Uncle Mo's moderate final time should probably be forgiven in favor of his extremely strong finish.

Here are the fractional and final times of the three one-mile races contested at Gulfstream last Saturday:

The final times dictated that the GP Handicap got a 14-point better BSF than the Timely Writer, but the full story is in the fractions.

Forget about the opening quarters, splits that have been highly questionable in one-mile races at Gulfstream. Even just using the half-mile, six-furlong and final times, it's clear that the Timely Writer unfolded at an almost bizarrely slow pace -- nearly two full seconds slower to the half than not only the GP Handicap but also the filly-and-mare allowance race earlier on the card.  Tackleberry ran the first six furlongs in the GPH in 1:11.19 as opposed to Uncle Mo's 1:13.69 -- exactly 2.5 seconds, or 15 lengths (via 6 lengths=1 second) faster.

How much faster a final quarter than a crackling 22.87 was Uncle Mo supposed to run?

Due to his brilliance and all those 1's in his running lines, a lot of people probably think of Uncle Mo as a speed horse -- but if you transpose his Timely Writer onto the GP Handicap, he'd have been 15 lengths back with a quarter-mile to go and made up half the deficit down the stretch.

Just for fun, here's a comparison of Uncle Mo's one-mile efforts in the Champagne last fall and the Timely Writer last Saturday. The Belmont track was clearly faster by nearly two seconds at a mile, but the first-half/second-half differences are still obvious. It's rare to see a horse produce two such radically different performances in a pair of one-turn, one-mile races:

 I think it's fair to debate whether two scheduled preps, and just one at two turns, will prove to be sufficient seasoning by Derby Day, but I don't think the Timely Writer indicated any stalling or regression in Uncle Mo's ability. If anything, it broadened his dimensions as a colt who can relax early and finish strongly, never a bad thing in a classic candidate.

Catherine Beebe More than 1 year ago
Dear DFR, 4/10/11 Uncle Mo has an over reach problem? Try adding a 1/4 OZ to each shoe. Sincerely a horse nut, Catherine
woodridgephil More than 1 year ago
Steve, At what point will u be jumping in to the gulfstream 10 cent pic six. If not i think your insight on how to attack it would make a great column or blog entry. I know the down sides of the lone winner rule but 900gs is getting tough to pass. Thanks
jason More than 1 year ago
About the show betting column.i agree with you, but the only thing is the issue more about the rebates and / or some kinda" points" or benefits ? i read twinspires and they specify in club rules about that ....... so thus a person cant become a VIP memberfrom a few show bets [Every ADW whose rules I've read specifies that you don't get points or rewards for bets that pay $2.10. -SC]
Henry B More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve: Nice article about the show betting. We need more articles on the inequities of betting horses. I saw a pie chart on the takeout of California racing. It said they gave the horse player 80% of the bet. Originally 100% belonged to the horseplayer. Is it like a VLT? they are selling you hope for your money.
marc munyan More than 1 year ago
Hello everyone well derby is coming closer and all i have seen so far are speed horses being picked to win this years ky derby.Everyone has their own opinion on this years races leading up to this years derby.So here goes is the factor the real deal has uncle moe faced weak competition leading toward the derby.Since graded stake money earners list been changing for the second group of three year olds.How do you feel about pace vs front runners in this years derby preps.Its been a wide open affair this year preps.I am going to look else where. Bellow are my top 5 picks 1.Animal Kingdom was a fright train closing won Spiral 2.Premier Pegasus san felipe winner with a commanding win seven lenght winner 3.Brethren Tough loss never fired in tampa bay derby but i just think he need a race 4.Silver Medallion Tough race horse showed his toughness in El Camino Real Derby he is the real deal if russel baze gets the mount on him tough contender for the derby remember west coast fan russel baze hasnt been on the derby trail for a while so this may be his year 5.Archarcharch well Rebel was the factor coming out party pass 1 mile tough to say but Archarcharch did very well stuck around for a while got collard by calebs posse but the key reason i think Archarcharch loss the race is because of his lack of eperiance but in dew time he will run a race of his life time.
somber horse player More than 1 year ago
Steve, Unrelated question. It's about taxes. Let's say I make $100,000 a year in wages (and applicable taxes are withheld). I have $230,000 in w-2 G's for a calendar year. I actually lost the $230,000 and then some. I claimed the $230,000 in gambling winnings. Itemized it as a loss on my federal tax return. I had $20,000 in federal witholding due to a few big hits. I complete my taxes and am happy to see a $20,000 fed return (of withheld $). Then when I do my state and city taxes, I am shocked to see a $40,000 tax bill because I can not itemize the losses....I am forced to pay tax on $230,000 that I never earned. Is this accurate? Is this what every horse player goes through (who makes many frequent hits on 300-1 scores or hits a couple of nice pick sixes in a year). Any advice? Please help. Somber horse player [You should talk to an accountant experienced in this stuff. You get some of the deduction per your Fed itemizations, but the quick answer is yes, you get hosed on state taxes because of the idiotic requirement to report gross winnings as income and then deduct losses, instead of netting out a true profit. -SC]
Off Track More than 1 year ago
Steve, You gonna play Dubai Saturday? [One-dollar boxes if I get bored. -SC]
JK More than 1 year ago
Steve, With the Gulfstream Pick 6 up to almost a half a million, when do you think you'll jump in? I know it's probably not your favorite bet, but the daily consolation pools are getting bigger and payouts for 6 of 6 have been pretty good. JK
luresdouble More than 1 year ago
There is nothinng wrong with the way this horse is being prepped for the Derby given the modern day game. This horse will have a flat mile and a 1 q/8th mile race under his bely by Derby time. That is essentially the same way Big Brown was prepped for it, virtually the same way Afleet Alex prepped for it save an additional sprint prep, etc. The modern game is different. This horse had a nice 2 year oild campaign and he doesn't need loads of prep races as a lightly or unraced 2 year old would. He has already show he can handle 1 1/6th with ZERO issues, and the Timely Writer was a paid workout. Pletcher knows that when you have the Porsche the most important thing is getting the Porsche to the race, not how many times you open it up. This horse continues to work steadily and he'll get a nice 1 1/8th prep in the Wood and be ready to roll Derby day barring injury or illness. Would I like to have seen him have perhaps one more route prep? Sure, but he just finished his 2 year old campaign strong in november and I see no issue with his connections in planning a massive 3 YO campaign given him a nice break off after his BC Juvenile win.
John More than 1 year ago
Let me see if I got this one right. The Factor runs a 1:20.34 seven furlong in the San Vincente beating Sway Away by 2 and a half lengths and Premier Pegasus by six lengths all under a hand ride. Premier Pegasus comes back and wins the San Felipe by 7 and a half lengths. Uncle Mo runs a 1:24.94 seven furlong split on way to a four and a half hand ride over Rattlesnake Bridge. Now the math part. The Factor, at the seven furlong marker, is leading Uncle Mo by 23 lengths. Are you trying to tell me that Uncle Mo can make up 23 lengths in three furlongs on a horse that just beat the landslide winner of the San Felipe? [The primary purpose of speed figures is to quantify the inherently different quickness of different racetracks on different days. I don't think anyone believes that the Gulfstream track last Saturday was anywhere near as fast as the one at Santa Anita the day of the San Vicente, or that The Factor would be 23 lengths in front of Uncle Mo after seven furlongs of any kind of race. -SC]