05/04/2016 2:06PM

This time, Repole able to savor Derby experience

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Owner Mike Repole has a solid Kentucky Derby contender in Outwork, the winner of the Wood Memorial.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Mike Repole had a big smile on his face as he greeted well-wishers and talked with reporters Wednesday morning on the Churchill Downs backstretch. It was a far cry from five years ago, when Repole was avoiding media on the backstretch before a formal press conference was held the day before the 2011 Kentucky Derby to announce the scratch of Uncle Mo, the Repole-owned morning-line favorite.

Repole has spent the better part of the last month talking about Uncle Mo, who in his first crop has sired three Kentucky Derby starters, including Repole’s own Outwork.

Though Outwork won the Wood Memorial, which Uncle Mo couldn’t win in 2011, the race was criticized by many observers because of the slow time and the fact that Outwork defeated an 81-1 maiden by a nose.

But through his training at Churchill Downs over the last 10 days, Outwork has critics reevaluating his chances in Saturday’s 142 Kentucky Derby.

“He seems to be the buzz horse right now. People are talking about him,” said Repole, who added that his trainer, Todd Pletcher, “doesn’t say much. And when Todd doesn’t say much, I know it’s a good thing.”

Remembering what a difficult four weeks he had five years ago between the Wood Memorial and the Kentucky Derby when Uncle Mo was diagnosed with a liver disorder, Repole said he wanted to make sure he would enjoy his experience this time around.

“After we won the Wood Memorial, I said, ‘I am going to enjoy the next four weeks,’ ” Repole said. “I don’t know what’s tougher as a horse owner than scratching your Derby favorite the day before the race. So, if you’ve been through that, and I’ve been very blessed to have some incredible moments in this game that I’ll never forget – family moments – I came in here, and I want to enjoy myself, and I’ve been enjoying every single moment.”

After watching Outwork train Wednesday morning, Repole was planning to go to Ashford Stud to visit Uncle Mo and then to WinStar Farm to visit Nonna Mia, the dam of Outwork.

“For me to spend the morning with Outwork and the afternoon with Uncle Mo and Nonna Mia, it’s a very special day, man,” Repole said.

:: Kentucky Derby Day 2016 previews, analysis, and plays