10/23/2015 12:16PM

Freshman sire Uncle Mo poised for big impact on Breeders' Cup

Benoit & Associates
Undefeated multiple Grade 1 winner Nyquist is from the first crop of champion Uncle Mo.

At this year’s Fasig-Tipton Florida selected sale of 2-year-olds in training, Dennis O’Neill, acting as agent, purchased a colt from the first crop of champion Uncle Mo for $400,000. The colt was sent to his brother Doug O’Neill to race for owner J. Paul Reddam. A few weeks later, at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s March sale of 2-year-olds, he went to just $75,000 for a filly by the same sire and for the same connections. 

A little more than six months later, both of those youngsters – Nyquist and Gomo – are Grade 1 winners, helping to propel Uncle Mo atop the freshman sire standings. Even Nyquist’s six-figure price tag now looks like a bargain, as he has already earned more than half a million in his unbeaten career. Their success has created a double-edged sword.

“We can’t buy enough of them,” O’Neill assistant Jack Sisterson said of Uncle Mo’s offspring. “But we’re running out of money! They’re getting expensive.”

The fact that Uncle Mo, who is based at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., has emerged as a leading freshman sire should be no surprise. The son of the late Indian Charlie won his three starts as a juvenile – including the Champagne Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – by a combined 23 1/4 lengths en route to earning the 2010 Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male.

Five years later, Uncle Mo holds a strong hand at the 2015 Breeders’ Cup, as his first crop of runners have been standouts from coast to coast. Nyquist will be favored in the Juvenile off four wins in California to start his career, including the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes, Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, and Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes. Thrilled, a daughter of Uncle Mo who finished second in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo Stakes and the P.G. Johnson Stakes in New York for owner Michael Tabor, was pre-entered in both the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Juvenile Fillies, with first preference in the former.

Those two are among five stakes horses for Uncle Mo, whose Gomo won the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland; she was among the contenders for the Juvenile Fillies before being declared out of consideration due to an ankle chip. Uncle Mo is also the sire of Uncle Vinny, who won the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes via disqualification before finishing third in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, as well as Uncle Brennie, winner of the Sunday Silence Stakes on turf at Louisiana Downs.

Thrilled and Uncle Vinny are trained by Todd Pletcher, who conditioned Uncle Mo. The trainer sees similarity between the champion and his offspring.

“We are seeing a lot of them that have similar physiques,” Pletcher said. “He seems to be putting some size to most of them. And a lot of them have that big, long stride that he had. For a horse that was as fast as he was, he had a huge leap, and we’re seeing that with some of his babies. He’s off to an impressive start, for sure.”

Uncle Mo is the sire of 14 winners from 43 starters for total earnings of $1,677,420 through Oct. 19. That bankroll is roughly twice more than his closest competitor on the freshman sire list. Perhaps equally impressively, he is also second on the overall North American juvenile sire list through Oct. 19, trailing only fellow Coolmore sire Scat Daddy.

◗ Leading Australian sire Lonhro, who shuttled to spend three Northern Hemisphere seasons at Darley’s farm in Lexington, Ky., will be represented by a Breeders’ Cup runner from his first U.S. crop in Isotherm. The colt scored a victory in the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park and is now cross-entered for the Juvenile or Juvenile Turf. The top runners for Lonhro, who was Australia’s 2004 Horse of the Year and an 11-time Group 1 winner, include Australian champion Pierro and New Zealand champion Bounding.

◗ Zoffany, who stands at Coolmore’s Irish base, holds a strong hand from his first crop, as Group 2 winner Waterloo Bridge was pre-entered for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and the Juvenile, with preference in the former. The colt earned his highlight victory at the famed Royal Ascot meeting earlier this year. Zoffany also could be represented by Juvenile Fillies Turf candidate Illuminate. During his racing career, Zoffany was a Group 1 winner in his native Ireland and was also Group 1-placed in England and France.