03/07/2011 1:43PM

Uncle Mo won't face crowd at Gulfstream in 2011 debut

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Tom Keyser
Uncle Mo, John Velazquez up, wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole’s first choice for Uncle Mo’s 3-year-old debut is Saturday’s $100,000 Timely Writer at Gulfstream Park. The question is can the track’s racing secretary, Dan Bork, find enough 3-year-olds willing to take on the champ to make the race go.

Uncle Mo completed the last of his six workouts in preparation for his 3-year-old debut Sunday at Palm Meadows, breezing an easy half-mile in 48.87 seconds under jockey John Velazquez.

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“Having the Eclipse Award winner and Kentucky Derby favorite run here is a bonus for our fans, so we’re willing to let this race go with a very short field if we have to,” said Gulfstream Park's vice president of racing, Tim Ritvo.

Among those who said they were considering entering the one-mile Timely Writer are trainers Chad Brown with Free Entry, Anthony Pecoraro with I’m Steppin’ It Up, and Carlos Martin with Schoolyard Cat. Pletcher said he would also consider entering another horse from his stable in the Timely Writer to help make the race fill if necessary. Pletcher nominated 13 3-year-olds, including Uncle Mo, to the race.

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Free Entry has already won twice at the meet, and Brown said he will likely cross-enter him Wednesday in both the Timely Writer and Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, which will also be run on Saturday.

“I’ll enter in both and give the owners the option, although right now I’m leaning towards going to Tampa because of the graded money,” said Brown.

I’m Steppin It Up has not started since finishing a distant third behind Uncle Mo in the Grade 1 Champagne.

“He’s ready to run and there’s a possibility we could be in the Timely Writer,” said Pecoraro. “I know Uncle Mo is going in there but we’ve run against him before and we have to get this horse started somewhere.”