11/28/2016 12:56PM

'Mo'-mentum stalled, temporarily

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mo Town, a second-crop son of Uncle Mo, wins the Grade 2 Remsen Saturday at Aqueduct.

At this time last year, Uncle Mo was well on his way to a record-shattering freshman season. The resident of Coolmore’s Ashford Stud was represented by 28 individual winners, including seven stakes winners, in 2015 en route to earnings of $3,632,314, a record for a North American freshman. He was, of course, led by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Nyquist, who emulated his young sire with an unbeaten championship campaign.

Uncle Mo appears to have a solid juvenile this season in Mo Town, winner of the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes last Saturday at Aqueduct. However, the colt is the first stakes winner from the young sire’s less-flashy second crop as he experiences a not-uncommon sophomore slump.

Uncle Mo’s overall results in 2016 are by no means paltry. He ranks third on the North American general sires list behind Tapit and Curlin – trailing the latter by less than $600,000 for the second spot – and leads the second-crop sires list by more than $8 million. Those results are based largely on the strength of his first crop, which continues to take down major events, led by Nyquist’s Kentucky Derby victory. However, Uncle Mo ranks just 21st on this year’s juvenile sires list, with 13 winners from 38 second-crop starters for earnings of $994,857. In addition to Mo Town, he is represented by Grade 2-placed Auntjenn and stakes-placed Aqua Frio from his foals of 2014. 

Results such as these are not an uncommon phenomenon for young stallions. New stallions often attract outstanding books of mares in their first season at stud, as farms and owners work to establish them with a strong foothold, but may experience a dip in quality in their second or third seasons, until their runners hit the track and the longer-term course of their careers is established.

One prime example of such fluctuations in fortunes is North America’s reigning leading sire, Tapit. After leading the freshman list in 2008 – with a then-record bankroll of $2,811,337, surpassed only by Uncle Mo – the stallion finished 11th on the juvenile sire list and 28th on the general sire list in 2009. He later began an ascent, and has led the latter list since 2014.

All signs point to breeders having faith that Uncle Mo will continue to produce high-quality runners. Off his record season, the son of Indian Charlie covered 253 mares in 2016 according to The Jockey Club’s Report of Mares Bred, making him the most active stallion in North America. His fee has doubled to $150,000 for 2017, and his book for that season already includes one of the best racemares of the modern era in Beholder, favored to be honored with a fourth divisional Eclipse Award in January.