04/26/2011 4:43PM

Kentucky Derby workouts: Uncle Mo gets his work done early


Tuesday, April 26
Churchill Downs

Cloudy, track sloppy/good
Temp. 62°

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - All eyes were going to be on Uncle Mo here Tuesday morning when he came out for his all-important five-furlong work scheduled for 8:30 a.m. following the renovation break. As things turned out, most of those eyes were still shut and fast asleep when Uncle Mo actually did get in that work shortly before 6 a.m., once his trainer, Todd Pletcher, decided to call a weather-related audible.

Kentucky Derby workouts

A heavy band of showers that appeared to be bearing down on the Louisville area led Pletcher to make the decision to go early, although the expected rain didn't materialize until the end of training hours shortly before 10 a.m. But the sloppy footing when the track opened for business at 5:45 a.m. was safe and much more to Pletcher's liking than the floated and harrowed strip that awaited Tuesday morning's two other Kentucky Derby workers, Midnight Interlude and Santiva, immediately after the break.

MONDAY: Nehro splashes an easy five furlongs

The morning also saw the breakdown and euthanization of a filly workmate among Kentucky Oaks candidates.

Uncle Mo (five furlongs in 1:01.69) - Working in company with stablemate Calibrachoa, a Grade 3 stakes winner in his previous start, and with his regular jockey John Velazquez aboard, Uncle Mo broke off at the five-furlong pole, and less than a furlong into the work both riders had to call an audible themselves, with a trio of horses directly in their paths near the rail at the half-mile pole. Fortunately, Uncle Mo and Calibrachoa were able to slip around the traffic without missing a stride, completing their opening quarter and three furlongs in 25.41 and 37.21 seconds. Turning for home into a moderate headwind, the pair continued on even terms almost to the wire, with Velazquez barely moving a muscle aboard Uncle Mo and Calibrachoa under moderate urging to finish a long neck behind. Uncle Mo quickly separated himself from his company once past the finish line, galloping out the stronger of the pair to complete six furlongs nearly three lengths in front in 1:15.56 before pulling up seven-eighths in 1:32.30.

From a visual standpoint, the work couldn't have been more impressive and gave every indication Uncle Mo has completely recovered from whatever problem led to his disappointing performance in the Wood. And while it doesn't answer the question of whether he will be able to stay 1 1/4 miles on Derby day, the work should renew whatever level of confidence his legions of supporters might have lost following his previous start.

Midnight Interlude (six furlongs in 1:13.51) - The Santa Anita Derby winner was the first Derby or Kentucky Oaks horse to work after the renovation break over a track upgraded to "good." Midnight Interlude broke off at the five-furlong pole a length behind his multiple Grade 3-winning stablemate Mythical Power. The duo were on even terms entering the stretch, but Midnight Interlude could not stay with his partner despite being put to urging coming to the wire and around the turn, finishing about 1 1/2 lengths behind Mythical Power at the seven-furlong pole after completing his final quarter-mile in 25.32 into the strong headwind. Midnight Interlude galloped out seven-eighths in 1:27.72.

From a visual standpoint, Midnight Interlude was a little disappointing, as he clearly proved no match for his workmate, who was under no visible pressure yet was still able to edge well clear through the final eighth of a mile. The fact that Midnight Interlude's partner was an older, stakes-proven, and far more experienced horse does mitigate those circumstances to a degree.

Santiva (four furlongs in 49.22 seconds) - He broke off and remained in company while breezing outside stablemate Shotgun Shine through fractions of 12.76, 24.50, and 36.29 seconds before galloping out five-eighths in 1:03.22 while under slightly more urging than his partner coming to the wire. This appeared to be little more than a maintenance work just 10 days removed from his previous start in the Blue Grass. I would expect to see something sharper in his final Derby prep next week.

Daisy Devine was clearly the most impressive of the Oaks horses to work on Tuesday. Breezing about a half-hour after Uncle Mo and in company with Skylord, Daisy Devine sizzled five furlongs in the slop in 59.59 seconds, completing her final quarter-mile in 24 seconds, albeit under pressure, before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.76 and pulling up seven-eighths in 1:29.46.

The Derby-Oaks training session was marred when Oaks contender Plum Pretty's workmate Gilded Gem broke down just past the finish line. Plum Pretty had already begun pulling away from her older mate en route to going seven furlongs in 1:28.86. Like Midnight Interlude, both Plum Pretty and Gilded Gem are trained by Bob Baffert.

"What happened today was just unfortunate. It scares you. I'm still in shock," Baffert  said about 90 minutes after the incident. "She was already done working, the rider was shutting her down when it happened. That's when she did it, while pulling up."

Gilded Gem was euthanized on the track.

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