05/05/2011 11:39AM

Kentucky Derby: Uncle Mo's status still up in the air

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Tom Keyser
A decision on whether Uncle Mo will run in the Kentucky Derby is expected by Friday morning.

LOUISVILLE, KY. – Though he had a spirited 1 1/2-mile gallop over a tight and fast Churchill Downs main track on Thursday morning, Uncle Mo’s status for Saturday’s 137th Kentucky Derby remained in limbo and a decision on whether or not he runs could be made by Thursday night or Friday morning, according to his owner, Mike Repole.

Uncle Mo was to undergo another battery of tests on Thursday as three veterinarians – Dr. Doug Byars, Dr. Ken Reed, and Dr. Steve Allday – were to examine the colt. Repole said those vets in concert with trainer Todd Pletcher will ultimately make the final decision on whether Uncle Mo starts in the race. Uncle Mo drew post 18 on Wednesday.

KENTUCKY DERBY: Past performances, contender profiles, and video

The connections of Uncle Mo have been fighting the calendar trying to get Uncle Mo ready for the Derby four weeks after he suffered his first career defeat in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9 and was subsequently diagnosed with a gastrointestinal infection. The infection needed to be treated with antibiotics and did impact the colt’s appetite for a little while. Though he has shown gradual improvement since shipping to Kentucky from New York on April 18, his connections are grappling with whether it’s enough to be ready to run 1 1/4 miles against 19 other 3-year-olds in the Derby.

“He’s gotten so much better since the Wood,” Repole said late Thursday morning. “Whether it’s enough, Todd Pletcher and the vets will make a decision and Mike Repole will live with that decision.”

Repole said that he wouldn’t wait until Saturday to make the final decision on Mo’s status.

“This isn’t going to be a Saturday decision,” he said. “We owe it to the racing fans, we owe it to the public; it’s not our intention to drag this out.”
Repole appeared somewhat despondent in talking about Uncle Mo, giving the impression that he is attempting to come to grips with not being able to run his 2-year-old champion in the world’s most famous horse race. If they opt to scratch Uncle Mo, Repole and Pletcher will still have Stay Thirsty, the Gotham winner, to run.

Uncle Mo has breezed twice since arriving in Louisville, the last time being a five-furlong move in company with Stay Thirsty on Sunday morning. Since then, Uncle Mo walked the shed row one day and jogged twice before galloping 1 1/2 miles Thursday morning.

During that training session, Uncle Mo left his pony just inside the sixteenth pole and jumped right into his gallop. According to Daily Racing Form clocker Mike Welsch, Uncle Mo displayed at times uncharacteristically high action as if he were climbing, but that may have been more a function of his eagerness to do more than his exercise rider would allow.