05/02/2016 3:45PM

Sires of the 2016 Kentucky Derby: Uncle Mo

Barbara D. Livingston
Uncle Mo

It was no surprise to see Uncle Mo atop the freshman sire list in 2015. After all, he was an unbeaten juvenile champion himself, with every right to start his stud career off fast.

No one could have predicted this level of dominance, though.

Uncle Mo, who stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., led not only the freshman list but also the overall juvenile sire list in 2015, with a bankroll of $3,632,314, powered by champion Nyquist and Grade 1 winner Gomo. The earnings were a freshman-season record, shattering the $2,811,337 amassed in 2008 by future supersire Tapit. Uncle Mo’s bankroll outpaced runner-up freshman Twirling Candy by nearly $2.5 million.

:: Sires of the 2016 Kentucky Derby | Download the Derby Sire Guide

He hasn’t slowed down, either. Uncle Mo ranks third on North America’s general sire list, behind only Lucky Pulpit, whose son California Chrome just won the world’s richest race, and two-time reigning leading general sire Tapit. He has three horses pointing to the Kentucky Derby, including favored Nyquist, who rolled in the Florida Derby to remain unbeaten; Wood Memorial winner Outwork; and hard-luck Grade 3 winner Mo Tom.

It’s a strong Kentucky Derby debut. The last stallion to have as many as three starters in the race – a feat both Uncle Mo and Tapit will probably achieve this year – was Cox’s Ridge in 1984. The gate could be even more crowded if his trio moves on to Baltimore; stakes winner Abiding Star and multiple-graded-placed Laoban and Uncle Lino may lie in wait for the Preakness. Meanwhile, Uncle Mo also has two potential Kentucky Oaks starters in Mo d’Amour, who won the Grade 2 Gazelle, and Mokat, second to champion Songbird in the Santa Anita Oaks.

Outwork and Mo d’Amour are both trained by Todd Pletcher, who conditioned Uncle Mo.

“We are seeing a lot of them that have similar physiques,” Pletcher said. “He seems to be putting some size to most of them. And a lot of them have that big, long stride that he had. For a horse that was as fast as he was, he had a huge leap, and we’re seeing that with some of his babies. He’s off to an impressive start, for sure.”

Uncle Mo, by the late Indian Charlie, won his three starts as a juvenile by a combined 23 1/4 lengths, earning a divisional Eclipse Award by a near-unanimous vote. Owned by Mike Repole, the colt burst onto the national scene with a 14 1/4-length victory in his Saratoga debut. He added open-lengths scores in both the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. Although illness caused him to miss the Triple Crown series, Uncle Mo continued on at 3 to win the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap over older horses and was multiple Grade 1 placed. He won 5 of 8 career starts and missed the board only once, earning $1,606,000.

The star of Uncle Mo’s first crop is a colt who, like his sire, wrapped up an unbeaten 2-year-old campaign with a Breeders’ Cup score and was an overwhelming Eclipse Award winner. Nyquist, racing for J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill, won the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes, Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, and Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes on the West Coast. He wrapped up a 5-for-5 campaign by shipping to Keeneland to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Nyquist returned this spring to win the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes and then the Florida Derby to secure Kentucky Derby favoritism.

Reddam and O’Neill also campaign Gomo, who won the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland last fall before injury curtailed her campaign. Both horses were selected by Doug O’Neill’s brother Dennis, who purchased Nyquist for $400,000 out of the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-olds in training sale, and Gomo for just $75,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s March sale of 2-year-olds. Since then, their stock has risen considerably. An Uncle Mo colt sold for $1 million at this year’s Fasig-Tipton Florida sale, followed by a $1.3 million colt at OBS March.

“We can’t buy enough of them,” O’Neill assistant Jack Sisterson said of Uncle Mo’s offspring. “But we’re running out of money! They’re getting expensive.”

In addition to his classics contenders, Uncle Mo is the sire of Grade 3 winner and Grade 1-placed Uncle Vinny; Grade 2-placed stakes winners Thrilled and Forevamo; stakes winners Lost Raven, Clipthecouponannie, and Uncle Brennie; graded-stakes-placed Uncle Walter and Shaken; and stakes-placed Mo for the Money, Conquest Babayaga, Little Mo, and Moqueen.