07/22/2011 6:41AM

Saratoga: Uncle Mo has first work, an easy three furlongs

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Tom Keyser
Uncle Mo works under Patti Krotenko at Saratoga Friday morning.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Just after sunrise on a steamy Friday morning, Uncle Mo took another step toward his potential comeback to the races by working three furlongs in 38.22 seconds over Saratoga’s main track.

It was about 80 degrees when Uncle Mo came on the track around 6 a.m. accompanied by a stable pony. He backed up to the middle of the clubhouse turn before turning around. Uncle Mo left the pony at the 4 1/2-furlong pole and galloped smoothly before breaking off at the three-eighths pole.
With exercise rider Patti Krotenko maintaining a firm grip on the reins, Uncle Mo, last year’s 2-year-old champion, went his first eighth in 12.42 seconds and got his final quarter in 25.80, according to Daily Racing Form clocker Mike Welsch, who had Uncle Mo galloping out a half-mile in 51.10 seconds. Official track clockers caught Uncle Mo in 38.40 seconds for three furlongs.

“That was what we were looking for just to get started,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who watched the work in the grandstand along with owner Uncle Mo’s owner Mike Repole. “It looks like he’s come back well, moving well, weight looks good, blood work looks good. So far were very pleased.”

Pletcher and Repole have stated the Grade 1 King’s Bishop, a seven-furlong race here on Aug. 27, is a goal for for Uncle Mo. Uncle Mo has not run since finishing third in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9, his first career loss in five starts.

“In some ways you don’t want to rush him, but it’d be foolish just to be training him without any goal in mind,” Pletcher said. “You got to have some sort of target, but Mike and I are on the same page - if it happens great, we’re not going to mess up the horse trying to make it. We’ll see how he responds.

“We know from getting him ready at Gulfstream he’s not a horse that requires a tremendous amount of training to get ready,” Pletcher added. “He’s obviously a very gifted horse, a very talented horse, he might be able to overcome a little bit of a fitness deficit just on natural ability so we’ll see.”

Friday’s move was Uncle Mo’s first published workout since he went five furlongs in 1:01.60 at Churchill Downs on May 1, six days before he was to run in the Kentucky Derby. Uncle Mo was subsequently entered in and then scratched from the Derby the morning before the race.

Uncle Mo was later diagnosed with a rare liver disease. He spent nine weeks at WinStar Farm where he steadily put on weight and began jogging on June 24 and started galloping on July 1. He shipped to Saratoga on July 11 and has galloped each morning since July 12.

Saratoga was where Uncle Mo began his career last summer in smashing fashion, winning a maiden race by 14 1/4 lengths, running six furlongs in 1:09.21 and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 102.

“I felt like I was watching his maiden win,” Repole said after watching the work out. “It was nice to see him out there stretching his legs, so nice and easy. He’s gained weight since he’s been here, his blood work is getting better since he’s been here. This is another milestone in his return.”

Uncle Mo gained more than 100 pounds during the time he was at WinStar Farm, and has gained five more pounds since he’s been in Saratoga, according to Pletcher.