04/03/2011 12:16PM

Pletcher describes Uncle Mo's last workout before Wood as 'perfect'

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Barbara D. Livingtson
There's expected to be no shortage of challengers willing to face Uncle Mo in Saturday's Wood Memorial.

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Early Kentucky Derby favorite Uncle Mo completed his major preparation for Saturday’s $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct by working four furlongs in 48.20 seconds Sunday morning at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida. The time was the second fastest of 36 at the distance.

With regular rider John Velazquez aboard, Uncle Mo worked in company with recent 3-year-old maiden winner Praetereo. A tad eager going to the pole, Uncle Mo actually broke a neck in front of Praetereo and worked an eighth of a mile in 12.19 seconds and a quarter in 23.61 before edging away on his own power late to finish a length or two in front at the wire. He lengthened his stride during his five-furlong gallop-out in 1:01.04 and pulled up six furlongs in 1:15.79.

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

 The drill was the second since Uncle Mo, last year’s Eclipse Award winning 2-year-old colt, won the Timely Writer Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream on March 12.

Watching the work alongside trainer Todd Pletcher was owner Mike Repole, who said that Pletcher told him the work was “perfect.’’

 “He doesn’t use the word perfect too much, but he said perfect,’’ said Repole, who later Sunday was to team with Pletcher to run Gotham Stakes winner Stay Thirsty in the $1 million Florida Derby.

 Said Pletcher: “Last week, we put him behind horses, let him take a little dirt. Today I was looking for between 48 and 49 with a good gallop out and we got that. He probably could have went on his own today, but I wanted to make sure he got enough out of it. I can’t say that he’s necessarily training any differently out of the race than before; he’s always been such an exceptional horse and today was more of the same. He puts enough into his gallops that I don’t think we need a demanding work schedule.’’

 Uncle Mo is scheduled to ship to New York by plane on Tuesday. Entries for the Wood Memorial will be taken on Wednesday. As of Sunday, the field was expected to include Gotham second- and third-place finishers Norman Asbjornson and Toby’s Corner, restricted stakes winner Preachintothedevil, Duca, Isn’t He Perfect, Starship Caesar, and possibly Full of Scoundrels and Son of Posse.

 Also on Sunday, Pletcher worked beaten Tampa Bay Derby favorite Brethren, who went five furlongs in 59.90 seconds. Brethren, pointing to the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 16 at Oaklawn, worked in company with fellow WinStar Farm-owned Rule.

 It was Brethren’s second work since the Tampa Bay Derby - where he finished third - and both drills have been with blinkers, equipment he has yet to wear in a race. Pletcher said he felt Brethren was a bit aggressive in his Sunday work and may adjust the blinkers for the colt’s next work.

 “Might try him next week with a little cut-back set of blinkers, maybe had a little too much on him today and see if there’s a happy medium,’’ Pletcher said. “Just looking for an improved performance. He seems like he’s a tad too lackadaisical without them and a tad too physical with them.’’

Queen’splatekitten, who finished second in the Palm Beach Stakes on turf on March 12, is being pointed to the Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 16, Pletcher said. On Sunday, he worked four furlongs in 49.30 seconds on the dirt at Palm Meadows.

 Pletcher, who won five races at Gulfstream on Saturday, said Awesome Maria and R Heat Lightning appeared to come out of their graded stakes victories in good order. Pletcher said Awesome Maria, who won the Grade 3 Rampart by eight lengths, will be pointed to the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park on June 18 with a possible start in the Shuvee on May 21. Awesome Maria ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.09 and earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for the Rampart.

 R Heat Lightning, who won the Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks by 8 1/4 lengths and earned a 100 Beyer, will be aimed at the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 6.