11/07/2011 4:33PM

Aqueduct: Stay Thirsty out of shadow

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Barbara D. Livingston
Stay Thirsty has a backstretch moment with owner Mike Repole.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Stay Thirsty won’t have to live in Uncle Mo’s shadow next year.

With the announcement Monday that Uncle Mo has been retired, Stay Thirsty, winner of the Jim Dandy and Travers this summer, will carry the banner for owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher in the handicap division in 2012.

Stay Thirsty ended his 3-year-old campaign on a disappointing note by finishing 11th – a nose behind Uncle Mo – in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs

While Uncle Mo was vanned to Ashford Stud in Lexington, Ky., on Monday, Stay Thirsty was scheduled to ship to New Castle Farm in Ocala, Fla., on Tuesday for a lengthy vacation, Pletcher said. Stay Thirsty’s 2012 campaign will focus on major handicap races run in New York, with the goal being another attempt at the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita next November.

“If we give him a meaningful break, we’ll probably run short on time for a start at Gulfstream,” Pletcher said Monday from Kentucky. “Based on how much he likes Saratoga and Belmont we would like to focus on the major races at Saratoga and Belmont and hopefully try the Breeders’ Cup Classic as well.”

Pletcher felt that Stay Thirsty was compromised by being stuck down on the inside and that “he was never able to move out in a comfortable position.”

Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo were two of nine horses Pletcher started in the Breeders’ Cup. One year after winning three Breeders’ Cup races at Churchill, the best finish for Pletcher this year was Stopshoppingmaria’s runner-up finish in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Sweet Cat finished third in that race as well.

“She ran very well, for a second I thought we might get lucky,” Pletcher said of Stopshoppingmaria, who was making her turf debut. “She put in a very good run - came out of it well.”

Pletcher said that jockey Garrett Gomez told him Sweet Cat struggled with the soft turf. “In spite of that, she dug in and tried hard,” Pletcher said.

Both of those horses, along with Finale, who finished seventh in the Juvenile Turf, were scheduled to go to Palm Meadows in Florida to begin training for their 3-year-old season.

Her Smile, a 28-1 longshot, finished third in the Filly and Mare Sprint. Her Smile was purchased for $1 million by Frank Stronach on Sunday at the Fasig-Tipton Horses of All Ages sale.

Aikenite, fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, will likely go to Aiken, S.C., for a break before being brought back for a 5-year-old campaign.

Super Espresso finished seventh in the Ladies Classic. Pletcher said that Super Espresso could run back in the Falls City at Churchill.

The weekend wasn’t a total loss for Pletcher and Repole. Calibrachoa won Sunday’s Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap here and will now be pointed to the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 26 along with Caixa Eletronica, who finished third in the Bold Ruler.