08/05/2014 10:05AM

Jerardi: Uncle Todd’s connections know his sweet spot

Coady Photography
Uncle Todd's last six races have all been at 4 1/2 furlongs, clearly his most favored distance.

While everybody was waiting around to see the three Grade 1 stakes from Saratoga and the West Virginia Derby from Mountaineer, I wanted to see the amazing Uncle Todd in the $100,000 West Virginia Legislature Chairman’s Cup, the second race on last Saturday’s Mountaineer card.

There are certainly better horses in America than the 5-year-old son of Pennsylvania stallion Jump Start. I am not sure there are many faster horses.

Uncle Todd has always been fast, as he showed in the first two races of what is now a 34-race career. He was second in his debut at Pimlico and then won a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race at Parx in the spring of 2011.

The shame is that the horse then went nearly three years without running at the distance he was born to run. When he was claimed by Robert Cole and his trainer Kevin Patterson for $8,000 at Charles Town on Jan. 4, they knew just what to do.

Uncle Todd’s last six races have all been at 4 1/2 furlongs. He was second twice and then ran three straight winning races that were almost identical, two at Charles Town and one at Mountaineer. He won by six, by six, and by 10 1/4 lengths at a distance where a big margin is a length. The times? 21.84, 44.90, and 51.25 seconds (April 3), then 21.71, 44.75, 51.21 (April 19), and 21.96, 44.87, 51.22 (June 8). The Beyer Speed Figures were 90, 98, and 102. He was in front at every call of every race.

Saturday’s 4 1/2-furlong race was going to be the toughest of Uncle Todd’s career. On paper, there were other speed horses in the race. In reality, there was just one.

Uncle Todd was well clear in about 10 strides, but he was being chased by the very tough Bet Seattle, who had won three straight in Chicago and was third in the same stakes last year.

Bet Seattle wore down Uncle Todd in the stretch. I figured Uncle Todd, who eventually finished third just behind No Distinction, had run his usual race and had just been defeated by a better horse. Turned out if Uncle Todd had run his usual race, he would have won easily.

The fractions were not overwhelming and the final time was underwhelming: 21.73, 45.09, and 51.52 seconds. The winning Beyer was just 93. Uncle Todd got an 83.

Still, the connections know what they have. Uncle Todd is closing on $100,000 in earnings since the claim, proving once again a well-managed horse is the most dangerous animal on the track.

The Race for the Ribbon

On Sept. 20, for the sixth consecutive year, Charles Town will partner with the West Virginia affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation to present the Race for the Ribbon and 12 other races with $850,000 in stakes purses.

Proceeds from a breast cancer walk on the track and other events will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure to help eradicate breast cancer.

“Breast cancer is a disease that has touched so many of us, our families, our friends, and our loved ones, and teaming up with Susan G. Komen’s West Virginia affiliate to help fight it is something we’ve come to look forward to every year,” said Al Britton, Charles Town’s general manager. “The combination of such a worthy cause, exciting events on property throughout the day, and a great night of Thoroughbred racing has made it an event our employees and community have rallied around.”

The evening’s signature race will be the track’s second graded event, the Grade 3, $500,000 Charles Town Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

“We’re really looking forward to Sept. 20 when the Charles Town Oaks joins the Charles Town Classic as the only two graded stakes to ever be run here,” said Charles Town vice president of racing operations Erich Zimny. “Our entire staff has worked hard to build the race to this point, and we’re excited to put on a show for our fans that features West Virginia’s first-ever graded race for fillies and some of the top horses and jockeys in our sport.”

The Preakness logo

Did anybody notice the date for the 2015 Preakness when the race’s logo was revealed in a release last week? It is May 16, the third Saturday in May.

Not sure if that means the Maryland Jockey Club has abandoned its thought about moving the Preakness four weeks from the Kentucky Derby, but I suspect it means management there knows it is almost certainly not happening next year.