01/16/2016 6:06PM

Leading Kentucky sires: Uncle Mo

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◗ Leading Kentucky freshman sire by earnings, average earnings, winners, stakes winners, and stakes wins
◗ Leading Kentucky juvenile sire by earnings

Uncle Mo’s position atop the 2015 North American freshman sire ranks was no surprise, as the stallion was himself an unbeaten 2-year-old with every right to produce similar runners. Still, his dominance of the category, as well as the way he held his own among established stallions, was spectacular in fashion.

Uncle Mo, who stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., led not only the freshman list but also the overall juvenile sire list, as his 28 winners on the season contributed to his progeny earnings of $3,632,314. The earnings are a freshman-season record, shattering the $2,811,337 amassed in 2008 by Tapit, now the reigning leading general sire. Uncle Mo’s bankroll outpaced runner-up freshman Twirling Candy ($1,167,144 and 25 winners), who stands at Lane’s End in Versailles, Ky., by nearly $2.5 million.

Uncle Mo, by the late Indian Charlie, won his three starts as a juvenile by a combined 23 1/4 lengths, earning a divisional Eclipse Award by a near-unanimous vote. Trained by Todd Pletcher for owner Mike Repole, the colt burst onto the national scene with a runaway 14 1/4-length victory in his Saratoga debut. He added open-lengths scores in both the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. Although illness caused him to miss the Triple Crown series, Uncle Mo continued on at 3 to win the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap over older horses and was multiple Grade 1 placed. He won 5 of 8 career starts and missed the board only once, earning $1,606,000.

The star of Uncle Mo’s first crop was a colt who, like his sire, wrapped up an unbeaten 2-year-old campaign with a Breeders’ Cup score and was considered the overwhelming favorite for an Eclipse Award. Nyquist, racing for J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill, won the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes, Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, and Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes on the West Coast. He wrapped up a 5-for-5 campaign by shipping to Keeneland to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, outgaming rival Swipe for a fourth straight time.

The Uncle Mo filly Gomo, racing for Nyquist’s connections, was stakes-placed twice in California before also making a successful raid on Keeneland to win the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes. Gomo, who was forced to miss the Breeders’ Cup due to injury, has been on the board in all five career starts.

Uncle Vinny won the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes via disqualification, while Thrilled was multiple graded stakes-placed in New York in the summer and fall. Both are trained by Pletcher, who sees similarities between his young charges and their sire.

“We are seeing a lot of them that have similar physiques,” Pletcher said Breeders’ Cup week. “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 also represented by stakes winners Forevamo, Lost Raven, Mo Tom, and Uncle Brennie; graded stakes-placed Mokat; and stakes-placed winners Mo for the Money and Conquest Babayaga. Laoban recently finished third in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes as a maiden. 

Following Uncle Mo and Twirling Candy on the North American freshman sire list was Girolamo, who stands at Darley in Lexington, Ky. Next came First Dude, Archarcharch, Giant Surprise, Big Drama, Paddy O’Prado, Gone Astray, and Court Vision. Archarcharch, Paddy O’Prado, and Court Vision all stand at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington.

Notably, five of the top 10 North American freshman sires stand or stood outside of Kentucky. First Dude, champion Big Drama, and Gone Astray stand in Florida. Girolamo and Court Vision stood in New York and Ontario, respectively, when their first crops were conceived.