07/10/2011 2:22PM

Pletcher optimistic Uncle Mo can be ready to race in time for King's Bishop

Barbara D. Lvingston
Uncle Mo is scheduled to arrive in Saratoga on Monday, where he will resume serious training following his recuperation from a liver ailment.

ELMONT, N.Y. -  On the day before he was to welcome Uncle Mo back into his barn, trainer Todd Pletcher said he believes getting last year’s 2-year-old champion ready for next month’s Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga is “doable.’’

 Uncle Mo has not run since finishing third in the Wood Memorial - his first career loss - at Aqueduct on April 9. He was scratched out of the Kentucky Derby the morning before the race due to an internal issue that was subsequently diagnosed as a rare liver disease called Cholangiohepatitis.

 Uncle Mo has been at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky., since May 9, but is  scheduled to be flown from Kentucky to Albany on Monday, and then van to Saratoga, arriving there after 1 p.m., according to owner Mike Repole.

 Uncle Mo began jogging on June 24 and started galloping on July 1. Pletcher, who is scheduled to drive to Saratoga sometime Monday, said he would wait to see how Uncle Mo gallops for a few days before deciding when to breeze him.

 “We don’t need any hiccups along the way, but it’s doable if everything goes well,’’ Pletcher said Sunday morning when asked about making the seven-furlong King’s Bishop on Aug. 27. “He left Churchill a very fit horse, he just wasn’t completely healthy. He got ready very quickly when he came back after the Breeders’ Cup. He won the Timely Writer off six breezes. We’re in a position to get close to that if we want to.’’

 Though he will finally get an up close and personal view of Uncle Mo on Monday, Pletcher said that he has seen a “steady stream of videos of him’’ in which he has seen significant changes in the colt.

 “His hair coat is so much better, he’s got a bright glossy coat, it’s something we were just never able to achieve before,’’ Pletcher said. “He’s put on weight, his bloodwork’s normal; those were some of the things that were frustrating us this spring and I’m sure were as a result of the liver issue.’’

 Given the chaos that has prevailed in the 3-year-old division this year, Pletcher said he believes there is still time for Uncle Mo to make a case for championship honors.

 “It’s obviously a very wide-open division right now, if somebody could take charge of it and finish strongly they could make a strong case,’’ Pletcher said. “I’ve always felt that Uncle Mo was the best horse of his generation now we just got to come back and see if that’s true or not.’’

 On Sunday, Pletcher’s Belmont Stakes runner-up Stay Thirsty, worked five furlongs in 1:00.66 in company with the mare Life At Ten. Pletcher said Stay Thirsty remains on schedule for a start in the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on July 30.

“He’s trained well since the Belmont, hasn’t missed a beat, everything seems to be right on schedule,’’ Pletcher said.

 Pletcher also said that Sidney’s Candy is on schedule for the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap on Aug. 6 after he breezed five furlongs in 1:01.79 Sunday morning over Belmont’s main track. Sidney’s Candy worked in company with Aikenite, who is being pointed to the James Marvin Stakes at Saratoga on July 22. The two completed their last quarter of Sunday’s move in 25.03 seconds.