04/10/2011 4:00PM

Uncle Mo to have blood tests, remains on Kentucky Derby trail

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Todd Pletcher said the portion of the left front foot that Uncle Mo took off leaving the starting gate was “very minor and insignificant.”

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Beaten but not broken, 2010 juvenile champion Uncle Mo remains a candidate for the May 7 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, but the connections of the Wood Memorial third-place finisher will take some blood work on the colt Tuesday to see if there were any issues with him going into or coming out of the race.

Uncle Mo, who had won his first four starts, suffered his first loss in Saturday’s $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, finishing 1 1/4 lengths behind Toby’s Corner and a length behind Arthur’s Tale.

In a press release issued Sunday afternoon, trainer Todd Pletcher said Uncle Mo was sound Sunday morning and added that the portion of the left front foot that Uncle Mo took off leaving the starting gate was “very minor and insignificant.”

“We plan on pulling blood work on Tuesday after giving him a couple of days after the race, which is our standard when we have a horse that doesn’t perform to our expectations,” Pletcher added. “We are shipping Uncle Mo to Churchill Downs on April 18 to continue his preparations for the Kentucky Derby.”


KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Track all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail

Last year, Uncle Mo won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs.

Reached by phone Sunday afternoon, owner Mike Repole said he has full confidence that Pletcher can figure out what went amiss and get things corrected by Derby Day.

“If anyone can figure this out, it’s going to be Todd,” Repole said. “Michael Jordan had a bad shooting night, Muhammad Ali lost a fight or two in his life. I think we’ll know more after the blood work. At least now I’ll get a better price on him in the Derby.”

Meanwhile, the connections of Toby’s Corner are still coming to grips with the fact they have a Derby contender in their midst. Trainer Graham Motion said Sunday he was still “shell-shocked” over Toby’s Corner’s neck victory over Arthur’s Tale in the Wood.

“That would be a good word to describe it,” said Motion, who trains Toby’s Corner for owner/breeder Dianne Cotter.

Motion said that Toby’s Corner came out of the Wood a bit tired – “he’s been laying down all morning” – but otherwise none the worse for wear. Toby’s Corner earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure for the Wood, which was his third win from four starts this year and fourth from six overall. Toby’s Corner is a son of Bellamy Road who won the Wood by 17 1/2 lengths in 2005 but who finished seventh as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby.

Motion said that Toby’s Corner would likely have one work between now and the Derby, that coming one week out from the Derby at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. Motion said Toby’s Corner has done well in races all winter training off the Tapeta surface at Fair Hill.

“I don’t know why I’d change anything now,” Motion said.

The connections of Arthur’s Tale went into the Wood thinking it would be a good way to get to the Peter Pan at Belmont on May 14 and then the Belmont Stakes on June 11. But now the Derby is under consideration, if the colt could get into the field. His second-place finish in the Wood gives him $200,000 in graded stakes earnings, a figure that may not be enough to get in.

“I think we are talking about going in that direction,” trainer Tom Albertrani said about trying to get to the Derby. “If we do get excluded, then I think we’ll stick to the original plan, which would have been Peter Pan/Belmont. Everything could change. The Preakness may be in the picture as well, but I guess everything will be decided after next weekend.”

There are several more Derby preps to be run, including the $1 million Arkansas Derby and the $1 million Blue Grass, both on Saturday. Albertrani plans to start both King Congie and Brilliant Speed in the Blue Grass.