02/22/2011 11:50AM

Uncle Mo to make season debut in Timely Writer at Gulfstream Park

Tom Keyser
Uncle Mo is being pointed to the Timely Writer, with the Tampa Bay Derby as a fallback.

The connections of unbeaten Uncle Mo, last year’s champion 2-year-old male, announced on Tuesday that their first choice for Uncle Mo’s 2011 debut is the Timely Writer Stakes, scheduled for March 12 at Gulfstream Park.

The other option for Uncle Mo is the Grade 2, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby the same day, which had been the first choice for Uncle Mo until Gulfstream Park created the Timely Writer.

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Assuming the Timely Writer gets enough entries to make the race go, that would make the Tampa Bay Derby a clear-cut choice for Brethren, who, like Uncle Mo, is trained by Todd Pletcher. Brethren earlier this month won the Sam Davis Stakes, Tampa’s major prep for the Tampa Bay Derby. If the Timely Writer fails to fill, Uncle Mo would go to Tampa, Pletcher has said.

The Timely Writer is a one-turn mile. The Tampa Bay Derby is at 1 1/16 miles.

“The Gulfstream Park surface is very similar to the surface that Mo’s training on every day at Palm Meadows,” Pletcher said, who said cited the shorter commute to Gulfstream, as opposed to Tampa, as another benefit of running at Gulfstream.

Uncle Mo won all three of his starts last year, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, to nail down the Eclipse Award for his division. He also won the Champagne Stakes. He has been off since the Breeders’ Cup, with Pletcher and owner Mike Repole desirous of two preps prior to the Kentucky Derby. The Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct has been cited by Pletcher and Repole as the preferred final prep for the Derby.

“Mo has more than enough graded earnings to qualify for the Derby and we both feel that the Timely Writer will set him up perfectly for the April 9 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct en route to a start in the Kentucky Derby on May 7,” Repole said in a press release.