02/16/2011 3:33PM

Pletcher considering new Gulfstream race for Uncle Mo debut

Barbara D. Livingston
Uncle Mo closed at 7-2 in Pool 1, the lowest odds among 23 individual horses offered in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Gulfstream Park racing secretary Dan Bork has written a one-mile overnight handicap for 3-year-olds to be run here March 12. The race, called the Timely Writer, will offer a $100,000 purse and will carry no conditions, which makes it open to all 3-year-olds, including reigning division leader and Eclipse Award champion Uncle Mo.

March 12 also is the date of the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs. Uncle Mo’s connections have been pointing the horse to an early or mid-March return.

“We were looking to put up a prep race for 3-year-olds who have already earned enough graded points to get into the Kentucky Derby but might not have wanted a race as tough as the Fountain of Youth at this point of the winter,” said Tim Ritvo, vice president of racing at Gulfstream Park. “We are also looking at this race as a possible alternative for 3-year-olds not quite ready for the Fountain of Youth who needed a little later prep to make the Florida Derby.”

KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Track all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail

The Grade 2 Fountain of Youth will be run Feb. 26, with the Grade 1 Florida Derby on April 3, 22 days after the Timely Writer.

“It’s an interesting race, and one we’ll certainly take a look at,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains Uncle Mo for owner Mike Repole. “The fact that it’s on the same day as the Tampa Derby obviously works into our timing, and at the moment, I’d say he’ll run in one of the two races on the twelfth. I’ll talk to Mike over the next couple of days and discuss our options. All that matters to me at the moment is that Uncle Mo is doing good, and right now, he’s doing great.”

Trainer Nick Zito said he might have considered the Timely Writer for Holy Bull winner Dialed In, had the distance been different.

“Both the timing and the distance of the race really don’t fit my schedule for Dialed In, although it’s the distance more than the date that’s the big issue,” Zito said. “I’d like to find another alternative for my horse rather than the Fountain of Youth, and had the handicap been written at a mile and one-eighth rather than one mile I’d probably think about running him in there.”

Zito said Dialed In, who picked up $240,000 in graded stakes earnings for his impressive victory in the one-mile Holy Bull, would likely return either in the Fountain of Youth or train up to the Florida Derby.