09/25/2011 11:58AM

Belmont Park: Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty look sharp in final drills for stakes

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Tom Keyser
Uncle Mo worked four furlongs in 46.57 seconds on Sunday at Belmont Park as he prepares for Saturday's Kelso Handicap.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Grade 1 winning stablemates Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty completed preparations for their upcoming stakes engagements with half-mile workouts Sunday morning that were as impressive visually as they were by the stopwatch.

The two Mike Repole-owned, Todd Pletcher-trained 3-year-olds worked by themselves shortly after 9:30 a.m. on the Belmont Park training track, following the second renovation break. Uncle Mo, last year’s 2-year-old champion, went four furlongs in 46.57 seconds under jockey John Velazquez, going his opening quarter in 23.50 and his last quarter in 23.07. He galloped out five furlongs in 59.68 and six furlongs in 1:13.52.

Uncle Mo is preparing for a start in next Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Kelso Handicap at one mile.

Shortly after Uncle Mo finished, Travers winner Stay Thirsty went four furlongs in 47.07, going his first quarter in 23.67 and his second quarter in 23.40. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.01 and six furlongs in 1:13.64.

Stay Thirsty will start as the probable favorite in next Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Pletcher, who watched the work from the clocker’s stand with Repole and a posse of Repole’s friends, said he wasn’t looking for those works to be that fast, but was nonetheless pleased with how both horses breezed over a training track that yielded quick times.

Speaking specifically about Uncle Mo, Pletcher said, “That was faster than I wanted to go; wasn’t what we set out to do, but I think it’s an indication of how well he’s moving at the moment.”

Pletcher further went on to say that he believes Uncle Mo is training better than he was before the King’s Bishop, a race in which he was beaten a nose by Caleb’s Posse following a fourth-month layoff precipitated by a liver disorder.

Velazquez said Uncle Mo was aggressive galloping to the pole, but even he was caught by surprise when told of the final time.

“I thought 48 [seconds] easy,” Velazquez said. “I did not know he went that fast, I wouldn’t even think he went that fast. He’s doing really good. I let him do it, he wanted to go; go ahead. He seems like he’s progressed more than from what he was going into the King’s Bishop.”

Castellano said he was “very happy” with Stay Thirsty’s work, though he mentioned the colt may have been a little distracted being on the training track. Last week, he worked on the main track.

“I asked him a little bit more at the end because he was distracted a little bit, looking around a little bit because it was the training track, tight corner,” Castellano said. “When I asked him, he responded so well. I’m very happy; good work.”

Pletcher worked several other runners pointing to next weekend’s stakes at Belmont. Vosburgh contenders Calibrachoa and Caixa Eletronica – also owned by Repole – worked four furlongs in 48.83 and 48.84, respectively, by themselves. Pletcher also is pointing Dark Thunder to the Vosburgh.

Pletcher said Caixa Eletronica is probably better suited to the one-mile distance, but that he didn’t want to run him against Uncle Mo. Caixa Eletronica is not Breeders’ Cup nominated and will be pointed to the Cigar Mile.

Life At Ten, winless since taking last year’s Beldame, worked four furlongs in 49.61 seconds Sunday morning over the training track. Pletcher had worked Life At Ten in blinkers in her previous two drills, but took them off Sunday because he didn’t want her to do too much. She will run in the Beldame with blinkers.

In other works of note Sunday:

* Force Freeze and Jersey Town, the 1-2 finishers in the Teddy Drone Stakes at Monmouth on July 31, each worked moments apart on the main track following the 8:45 a.m. renovation break.

Force Freeze, under jockey Paco Lopez, went four furlongs in 47.00, coming home his final quarter in 22.92. He galloped out five furlongs in 59.56. He looks like a viable longshot in the Vosburgh.

Right before Force Freeze breezed, Jersey Town went six furlongs in 1:11.02. Breaking off from the five-furlong pole under Cornelio Velasquez, Jersey Town went in splits of 11.85, 23.63, 34.75, and 58.00.

Jersey Town will take on Uncle Mo and Jackson Bend in the Kelso.

* Stacelita, the Beverly D. winner who is pointing to Saturday’s Grade 1 Flower Bowl, worked five furlongs in 1:02.85 over a soft inner turf course. Three sets of traffic cones were up, forcing the work, which was done in company with Desert Sage, to be conducted close to the outside rail.

Stacelita, under Ramon Dominguez, got her final quarter in 22.98.

* Distorted Legacy, also pointing to the Flower Bowl, went a slow five furlongs in 1:07.45 in company with Bold Hawk.