08/21/2011 8:45AM

Saratoga: Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty look sharp in final works before major races

Barbara D. Livingston
Uncle Mo, tuning up for his comeback in the King's Bishop, breezes five furlongs in 59.90 seconds Sunday.

 SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Shortly after sunrise Sunday morning, Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty completed preparations for their Grade 1 assignments next weekend by turning in their final workouts over Saratoga’s main track.

 The two Todd Pletcher-trained 3-year-olds worked minutes apart in company with other horses.

 Uncle Mo, working in company with Curlin Stakes winner Turbo Compressor, went five furlongs in 59.90 seconds, getting his final quarter in 23.62 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.47. Uncle Mo, last year’s 2-year-old champion who has not raced since finishing third in the Wood Memorial on April 9, is pointing to Saturday’s Grade 1 King’s Bishop.

 Stay Thirsty, the Jim Dandy winner and Belmont Stakes runner-up, went five furlongs in 1:01.62 in company with the graded stakes-winning filly Super Espresso. Stay Thirsty will vie for favoritism with Shackleford in Saturday’s $1 million Travers Stakes.

 Both 3-year-olds hit the main track shortly after 6 a.m. with a platoon of other Pletcher horses.

 Under John Velazquez, Uncle Mo started about 1 1/2 lengths Turbo Compressor and went an eighth in 12.52 seconds, a quarter in 24.64, and three furlongs in 36.28 as he moved alongside his partner approaching the quarter pole. With Velazquez basically sitting still, Uncle Mo finished his move very well and galloped out an additional eighth impressively. He basically shut it down after that, pulling up seven furlongs in 1:28.77.

“`I felt like we had a fit horse going into today’s work, we didn’t want to under-do it at the same time we didn’t want to leave our race on the racetrack this morning so I think we accomplished what we set out to do,’’ Pletcher said.

 It was the sixth breeze for Uncle Mo since he returned to Pletcher’s Saratoga barn on July 11. Uncle Mo was scratched from the Kentucky Derby the day before the race and was subsequently diagnosed with a rare liver disease. He spent about two months at WinStar Farm in Kentucky.

 “He hasn’t run since April, he was sick and all of that, but when we came here on July 11 I don’t see how anything could have went any better than it’s gone,’’ Pletcher said. “With the exception of moving up a work one day to beat some rain everything has gone exactly according to the schedule we laid out. I couldn’t be [happier] with the way he’s come up to it. We know it’s going to be a demanding race, it’s a tough race, but based on the horses he’s been working with that have been running well it gives you confidence that he’s fit.’’

 The field for the King’s Bishop is expected to include Caleb’s Posse, Cool Blue Red Hot, Flashpoint, Justin Phillip, Poseidon’s Warrior, Runflatout, and possibly The Factor. Bob Baffert worked The Factor six furlongs in 1:10 at Del Mar on Saturday and has a plane scheduled for that colt to come here on Monday.

 Shortly after Uncle Mo breezed, Stay Thirsty went five furlongs in company with Super Espresso. The work appeared to begin off-kilter as Stay Thirsty, under jockey Javier Castellano, was three lengths in front of Super Espresso, under Patty Krotenko, leaving the five-furlong pole.

 Krotenko hustled Super Espresso to get on even terms inside of Stay Thirsty shortly after the work began. Stay Thirsty went in splits of 12.57 seconds, 24.60, 36.61, and pulled away from Super Espresso late in the work. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.36 and continued on through seven furlongs in 1:28.79.

 Pletcher said the way the work started “didn’t matter’’ and called the work “perfect.’’ Stay Thirsty is coming off a four-length win in the Jim Dandy on July 30.

 “It was perfect; for a horse that ran a mile-and-a-half and a mile-and-an-eighth he went 1:01-and-change, he galloped out great, spot on.’’ Pletcher said.

 Stay Thirsty is 2 for 3 at Saratoga, including a maiden win and a second-place finish in the Hopeful as a 2-year-old. None of the other Travers horses has won at Saratoga.

 “I think with the way he ran over this track the way he’s doing we’re happy to be in the position we’re in,’’ Pletcher said.

 Other Pletcher horses to work early Sunday morning were Mission Impazible, who went four furlongs in 48.58 seconds in preparation for the Woodward here on Sept. 3; and Georgie’s Angel, who went five furlongs in 1:01.72 for a start in the Grade 1 Spinaway here on Sept. 4.

MORE: Full Coverage of the 2011 Travers Stakes »