01/30/2011 3:44PM

Uncle Mo takes it slow and easy in first breeze at Palm Meadows

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Tom Keyser
Uncle Mo, winning last fall's Champagne, began preparing for his 3-year-old debut in the Tampa Bay Derby with an easy three-furlong breeze in 39.80 seconds Sunday at Palm Meadows.

Eclipse Award winner Uncle Mo took his first baby step on the road to the Kentucky Derby when he breezed an easy three furlongs in 39.80 seconds at Palm Meadows on Sunday.

“I think people are making a bigger deal out of the time than they need to,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who had Uncle Mo galloping out a half in 53 and change. “It’s his first work back. I wasn’t looking for any speed. The only thing I didn’t want him to do was go too fast. I already know he’s fast. All I wanted was an easy three-eighths. We’ll pick it up as we go along.  He’ll probably go a half-mile next week.”

Pletcher is targeting a mid-March return for Uncle Mo with the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 12 currently penciled in for his 3-year-old debut.

Pletcher also sent out two of his other top 3-year-olds to work Sunday at Palm Meadows. Brethren went five furlongs in 1:02.20 and Stay Thirsty posted a bullet work at three furlongs after covering the distance in 36.95.

“We worked Brethren at 6:30 and I thought the track was slower at that time than later in the day when we breezed some of our other horses who posted faster times,” said Pletcher. “I thought he worked well. We’ll see how he goes next week but right now we’re on schedule for the Sam Davis.”

Pletcher was referring to the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 12 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Like Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty was working for the first time since Breeders’ Cup Day. Stay Thirsty finished a tiring fifth behind Uncle Mo in the BC Juvenile following a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Hopeful.

Pletcher said if all goes according to plan, Stay Thirsty will launch his 2011 season in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 5.

Pletcher also worked his older handicap star Rule five furlongs in 1:00.30 on Sunday. It was the best of 23 works at the distance. Rule will be among the favorites in Saturday’s Grade 1 Donn Handicap.