Updated on 05/03/2011 2:27PM

Kentucky Derby workouts: Uncle Mo works despite sloppy Churchill track


Raining   Temperature 61   Track Sloppy

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -   The brief respite from all the rain that has plagued the Louisville area over the past couple of weeks ended early Sunday morning with heavy rains throwing a bit of a curveball at trainers trying to put the all important final touches on their Kentucky Derby prospects.

 KENTUCKY DERBY WORKOUTS: Watch Mike Welsch's previous clocker report videos

Kentucky Derby workouts

Despite the inclement weather and extremely sloppy racetrack, three of the four scheduled Derby workouts did take place, including the eagerly anticipated five-furlong drill by the Todd Pletcher trained pair of Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty. Pants On Fire also got in an easy half-mile breeze while trainer Kathleen O’Connell opted to postpone Watch Me Go’s final Derby work until Monday.

Sunday morning also marked the first local appearance by possible Derby favorite Dialed In, who arrived from south Florida early Saturday afternoon.

The racetrack was floated after the renovation break for the Derby/Oaks training session. 

Uncle Mo (five furlongs in 1:01.28) Stay Thirsty, (five furlongs in 1:01.48): For the second time in five days, the reigning 2-year-old champion Uncle Mo was forced to work over a wet racetrack, which certainly isn’t the optimum scenario for trainer Todd Pletcher leading up to the Derby. Unfortunately, with more rain in the forecast overnight and the prospect of the track being any better on Monday looking bleak, Pletcher had little recourse but to play the cards dealt him and proceed as scheduled following the renovation break.

Uncle Mo, with jockey John Velazquez up, worked in company with stablemate and fellow Derby hopeful Stay Thirsty. The pair had been work partners on several occasions this past winter at Palm Meadows.

Uncle Mo broke off at the five-furlong pole about a length behind Stay Thirsty, finally easing alongside his mate midway around the bend after completing an opening quarter in a leisurely 25.18 seconds. Stay Thirsty was definitely the more aggressive of the pair at that point and had to be throttled down by his rider, Fernando Espinoza, around the turn. The duo turned into the stretch virtually on even terms with Uncle Mo getting his opening three-eighths in 37.19 and Stay Thirsty the same distance in 37.39. The pair continued in a similar fashion to the wire completing their final quarter in a respectable 24.09 with neither under any perceptible urging and Stay Thirsty having little problem keeping pace with his more heralded mate while arguably under just a touch more of a hold coming to the wire.                                                        

The gallop out was probably the strongest part of the work. Uncle Mo completed six furlongs in 1:14.28 (Stay Thirsty just a tick slower in 1:14.48) before pulling up seven-eighths in a solid 1:28.01 with Stay Thirsty again staying virtually even around the clubhouse turn and before easing up completely another furlong down the backstretch. 

Nothing flashy here from either horse as might be expected six days out from the main event over a sloppy racetrack. The fact Stay Thirsty was able to keep up as readily as he did with Uncle Mo was noteworthy considering that in a couple of previous works I had witnessed between the pair in Florida, Stay Thirsty had to be put to some pressure by his rider to keep within contact at the wire, after which Uncle Mo would ultimately pull clear during the gallop outs.

That being said, Uncle Mo has had a very, very good week and nothing from what I saw this morning would temper the impression that he’s doing well and back on top of his game with six crucial days still left before the Derby. Stay Thirsty, on the other hand, looked better today and left a far more favorable impression than I have gotten from him all week.

Pants On Fire (four furlongs in 47.96): With jockey Rosie Napravnik aboard, the Louisiana Derby winner appeared to be out for little more than a maintenance half mile as he cruised around virtually under his own courage throughout, getting his opening quarter in just a tick more than 24 and finishing in similar fashion with Napravnik doing little more than shaking the left rein at him briefly at the head of the stretch. He did not gallop out quite as strong as Uncle Mo or Stay Thirsty, pulling up five eighths in 1:01.86, but did continue on eagerly enough around to the backstretch while obviously handling the off track well.

Whether it was the off track or just the fact Napravnik was able to partner up with Pants on Fire again, I much preferred today’s move to Pants On Fire’s final south Florida prep last weekend at Palm Meadows.                                                                                                     

Only two prospective Oaks starters worked this morning, the best of whom was Joyful Victory, who was really on her toes, zipping five furlongs in 58.90 for trainer Larry Jones after posting sensational early splits of 10.78, 21.96, and :33.90 for his opening three furlongs. She looked much sharper and much more into her work than her previous, somewhat disappointing trial early last week.

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Pletcher’s latest acquisition, Her Smile, was the last horse to breeze during the Derby-Oaks break, going a half in 50.44 while under slightly more encouragement to finish than her older, male mate Ibboyee , who looked strong and was clearly going the stronger of the pair coming to the wire.

Dialed In went to the track shortly after 7:00 a.m., similar to his winter routine at Palm Meadows, and was very eager and on his toes while jogging alongside the stable pony with regular exercise rider Carlos Correa aboard.

In addition, at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, Wood Memorial winner Toby’s Corner worked six furlongs in 1:15 over the Tapeta surface for trainer Graham Motion.

Kentucky Derby Activity Report

Sunday, May 1

Animal Kingdom – walked after breezing 6 furlongs Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Archarcharch – galloped during 8:30 break at CD.

Brilliant Speed – galloped during 8:30 break at CD.

Comma to the Top – worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.40 Sunday at Hollywood Park; ships Tuesday.

Decisive Moment – galloped during 8:30 break at CD.

Dialed In – jogged about a mile early in first day back at CD.

Master of Hounds – arrives Tuesday from Ireland.

Midnight Interlude – galloped during 8:30 break at CD; works Monday.

Mucho Macho Man – walked after breezing 5 furlongs Saturday at CD.

Nehro – galloped 1 1/2 miles early at CD; works Monday

Pants On Fire – worked 4 furlongs in 47.96 Sunday under Rosie Napravnik.

Santiva – galloped during 8:30 break at CD; works Monday or Tuesday

Shackleford – walked after breezing 5 furlongs Saturday at CD.

Soldat – walked in first day at CD after shipping in Saturday.

Stay Thirsty – worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.48 Sunday under Fernando Espinoza.

Toby’s Corner – worked 6 furlongs in 1:15 Sunday at Fair Hill; ships Tuesday.

Twice the Appeal – walked after breezing 6 furlongs Saturday at CD.

Twinspired – walked after breezing 5 furlongs Saturday at Trackside; to CD on Tuesday.

Uncle Mo – worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.28 Sunday under John Velazquez.

Watch Me Go – galloped during 8:30 break at CD; works Monday.