Posts Tagged ‘Uncle Mo’

Farm Hopping: Hello, Union Rags!

by Jarrod Horak

Earlier this week, I ventured to Lexington, Kentucky with Candice Curtis and Stacy Edwards to visit with some of our favorite equine stars.

First stop was Lane’s End Farm. We spent some quality time with the likes of After Market, Candy Ride, City Zip, Curlin, Discreetly Mine, English Channel, The Factor, Lemon Drop Kid, Pleasantly Perfect, Quality Road, Smart Strike, and Union Rags.

Seeing these equine legends brought back some handicapping memories. I was in the early stages of my stint with Racing On The Net when Lemon Drop Kid captured the Belmont Stakes, and he was one of my first significant online play of the day winners.

I made my first trek to Santa Anita Park for the 2003 Breeders’ Cup and Pleasantly Perfect won the Classic that year.

Jarrod and rags 2

Fast forward to 2012 and Union Rags was my Derby horse. He had a less than ideal trip that day but redeemed himself in the Belmont Stakes. He retired shortly after the Test of Champions and I relocated to Kentucky just in time to visit the regal looking son of Dixie Union. He was taking a nap when we first arrived but curiosity got the best of him and he came over to see what we were up to. I rubbed his nose a few times and the gentle giant went back to sleep in the blink of an eye.

Some delicious refreshments were offered including chili and quiche. Real men don’t eat quiche but I had some anyway before out next stop — Ashford Stud.

Coolmore America is an impressive operation with an imposing group of young stallions including Cape Blanco, Dunkirk, Hansen, Lookin At Lucky, Stay Thirsty, and Uncle Mo. It was also a pleasure to see veteran sires Fusaichi Pegasus, Giant’s Causeway, Tale of the Cat, and Thunder Gulch.

Candice got her picture taken with her early racing idol Thunder Gulch, and for Stacy it was all about Stay Thirsty.

Hansen horse

Hansen stood out with his soft, light coat. He seemed a bit edgy at first but calmed down nicely once he got outside and allowed us to get up close and personal. Our picture perfect day was not over yet, because we were only a hop, skip, and a jump from Three Chimneys.

Stacy told me to wear my Big Brown hat since she knew we would be visiting the 2008 Derby winner, but before that I had to get a glimpse of my 2001 Derby horse, Point Given.

Point Given horse

I was all over Point Given before, during, and after the 2001 Triple Crown trail, and I even traveled to Big Sandy to watch him romp in the Belmont Stakes. He seemed unaware that I was there but just as I was about to walk away he pranced over and allowed me to share a moment with him. To his right was young stallion Caleb’s Posse. Brilliant Speed was just down the road and Ice Box was in the middle of his meet and greet with the fans.

We journeyed outside and as we walked down the path, a horse handler looked at my hat and said “I know who you want to see.” Actually, Colonel John was my Derby horse that year, but I played along.

Big Brown horse

Big Brown is a magnificent looking bay son of Boundary, standing at 16.1 hands, and he seems to know that he is a Derby winner.

We proceeded to walk a bit further down the path and were greeted by Marketing and Communications Director Jen Roytz. She was very gracious and asked us if we would like to see any horses.

She showed us Exchange Rate, Red Giant, and War Chant, and walked us to the next viewing area to visit with I’ll Have Another’s proud papa Flower Alley, who seemed to set a world record for chowing down his food. Jen was very excited about showing off low profile sire Lewis Michael, and we were more than happy to the share our day with the handsome son of Rahy.

Before we left Three Chimneys, we had a lengthy conversation with a veteran bloodstock consultant and helped ourselves to some food offered during the open house. Chili was on the menu again, and although it was tasty, I have to give the cook-off award to Lane’s End.

Wise Dan

We hopped in the car and headed to our final destination, Keeneland. It was the first day of the January sale but before hitting the pavilion, we toured the grounds, snapped some more photos, and reminisced about last year’s stakes winners through the eyes of the lawn jockeys.

As for the sale, Trip for A. J. (hip 241) went for $310k, and we left after Big Tiz (hip 299) brought down the gavel at a cool $600k.

This was our first of many planned Kentucky farm visits. 2013 is off to a wonderful start and that spring aroma in the not too distant future can only mean one thing – live racing at Keeneland is just around the corner!

If you would like to view more of our farm adventure pictures, please visit Stacy’s Kentucky Horse Racing Photos page.

2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic Preview

Post positions were drawn for the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic on Monday and below is the advance I wrote on Horse Racing Nation.

Uncle Mo gets the 5-2 morning line nod over Havre de Grace in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

Uncle Mo

Uncle Mo is the 5-2 BC Classic favorite - photo by Eclipse Spoprtswire

Two-year-old champ Uncle Mo has overcome health problems to be the improbable favorite in the biggest race of the year. The Pletcher/Repole runner was forced to miss the Triple Crown series with an intestinal problem and has been a force since returning at Saratoga. He ran too good to lose in the G1 King’s Bishop and exits a visually impressive score in the G2 Kelso at Big Sandy. He has yet to win beyond a mile and a sixtenth so Saturday’s ten furlong trip is a question he must answer.

Havre de Grace will take on the boys but that should not pose a problem because she beat the gents in the G1 Woodward at the Spa in September. She tuned up for this with a facile triumph in the G1 Beldame and tries to become just the second female to ever win the BC Classic.

G1 Jockey Club Gold cup hero Flat Out will try to turn the tables on Havre de Grace. The fantastic filly got the jump on him in the G1 Woodward but the ten panel trip might even the odds. He is training well for this engagement but both wins this year occurred at Belmont Park.

Overseas invader So You Think gives conventional dirt a whirl for Aidan O’Brien. The classy New Zealand-bred has captured eleven graded/group events on turf in Australia, Great Britain, and Ireland from seven furlongs to a mile and five sixteenths. Saturday marks his third start in five weeks but he seems to thrive on activity and can compete here if he handles the footing.

To Honor And Serve is stuck out in unlucky post thirteen and figures to attend the pace with railsitting longshot Prayer For Relief and G1 Goodwood winner Game On Dude. The Mott trainee exits back-to-back sharp prominent throughout wins including the G2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept 24.

PA Derby runner-up Ruler On Ice deserves a look at a big price. The surprise G1 Belmont Stakes winner gave To Honor And Serve ten pounds and showed newfound rallying ability over a speed favoring surface at Parx last time. He will be finishing under Garrett Gomez.

Stay Thirsty hit his best stride at Saratoga this summer with wins in the G2 Jim Dandy and G1 Travers. He was last seen landing the show in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and must prove he can fire a big shot away from his New York home.

The remainder of the Breeders’ Cup Classic field consists of Drosselmeyer, Ice Box, Rattlesnake Bridge, and Headache.

Breeders' Cup Classic

Breeders' Cup Classic Odds

Breeders’ Cup Classic 2011 Report: Pacific Classic Preview

Older Males…and Females

Tizway is widely considered the early favorite for the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic after winning the Grade 1 Whitney on August 6th. He earned a 111 BSF for his nine furlong win at the Spa, and his G1 Met Mile triumph on May 30 netted him a 113 BSF. The back-to-back grade one winner has his sights set on the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Oct 1.

Flat Out proved his G2 Suburban (113 BSF) victory was no fluke with a solid runner-up effort behind Tizway in the Whitney. The G1 Woodward on Sept 3 could be next, followed by a rematch with Tizway in the JCGC.

Havre de Grace

Watch out gents, here comes Havre de Grace - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Havre de Grace will take on the males in the aforementioned Woodward, a race that could attract Duke of Mischief, Friend Or Foe, Mission Imapzible, and Rule.

The next big test for older males is the G1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug 28. At this stage, the field is expected to include Blind Luck, Game On Dude, Setsuko, Stately Victor, Tres Borrachos, and Twirling Candy.

A Blind Luck victory in the Pacific Classic would give her a leg up on Horse of the Year honors, but her task will not be easy with enigmatic Twirling Candy, consistent Game On Dude, and a resurgent Tres Borrachos signed on.

Twirling Candy is suspect at ten furlongs but might be sitting on a big race after working a strong mile in 1:37.80 at Del Mar on Aug 21.

Three-Year-Olds

I have been covering the 3-year-old-crop of 2011 on Pick 6 Blog since last September and posted my latest Top 10 list on Aug 19.

My top ranked sophomore Coil is officially going in the G1 Travers following a 4f bullet in :46.12 at Saratoga on Aug 23.

Preakness hero and Haskell runner-up Shackleford heads the Travers probable list, along with Jim Dandy winner Stay Thirsty and Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice.

Stay Thirsty is probably the one to beat. His 106 BSF in the Jim Dandy is the top dirt route number for 3yo’s this year and he looms large with a similar effort.

Uncle Mo makes his much anticipated return in the G1 King’s Bishop on the Travers undercard. The Factor, originally slated to face Uncle Mo at the Spa, will stay in SoCal and tackle older sprinters in Del Mar’s Pat O’Brien on Aug 28.

Breeders’ Cup Classic 2011 Report – He can Flat Out run

Older Males

The handicap division is a total crap shoot this year and the road to the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic yielded another surprise when Flat Out (113 BSF) dusted his rivals in Belmont’s G2 Suburban on July 2.

Awesome Gem beat him in the Lone Star ‘Cap and Pool Play bested him in the Stephen Foster but the Suburban belonged to Flat Out. He sat a wide stalking trip and loved the sweeping turns at Big Sandy, leaving quality rivals Rodman and Hymn Book in his wake.

Flat Out

Is Flat Out the real deal? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Was the Suburban for real or was it more of a case of Flat Out taking advantage of an oval that typically flatters his wide rallying style? We will find out more about his true talents at Saratoga this summer.

The G1 Hollywood Gold Cup will be run on July 9 and Twirling Candy is the marquee name. He meets the likes of Big Cap 1-2 finishers Game On Dude and Setsuko, along with defending champ Awesome Gem.

Impressive G1 Met Mile hero Tizway will try to stretch his speed nine furlongs in the G1 Whitney at Saratoga on Aug 6, and he may meet Pool Play and recent WinStar/Pletcher purchase Sidney’s Candy.

Overseas runner Await The Dawn reportedly has his sights set on the BC Classic for Aidan O’Brien, and he has dirt influences in his pedigree with Giant’s Causeway on top and Dixieland Band on the dam side.

Three-Year-Olds

The sophomores are much like their older counterparts as the keep taking turns beating each other. I have been covering the 3-year-old-crop of 2011 on Pick 6 Blog since last September and posted my latest Top 10 list on June 29th.

The 3-year-old division could get a much needed shot in the arm if Uncle Mo makes it all the way back from illness. He will head to Saratoga next week for Todd Pletcher and if everything goes perfect he could show up in the Aug 27 King’s Bishop.

Some late blooming 3yo’s to watch include Bold Warrior, Raison d’Etat, and Bob Baffert’s Smash, who goes in Saturday’s G2 Carry Back at Calder.

 

Belmont Stakes 2011 Profile: Stay Thirsty

One of the most intriguing 2011 Belmont Stakes contenders is Uncle Mo’s stablemate Stay Thirsty.

Trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Mike Repole, Stay Thirsty began his career with a runner-up sprint effort at Belmont Park last summer. He easily earned his diploma at Saratoga second time out subsequently placed in the Grade 1 Hopeful at seven furlongs.

Stay Thirsty

Stay Thirsty is the forgotten Belmont horse - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Stay Thirsty returned from two-month break to finish a well-beaten 5th behind Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He went to Florida to prepare for his three-year-old campaign, which started off with a bang in Aqueduct’s Gotham Stakes.

After the Gotham he returned to South Florida but wilted in the Florida Derby heat. He was hardly on top of his game for the Kentucky Derby and he barely made a whimper back in 12th.

Stay Thirsty has yet to live up to his potential but the son of Bernardini (A.P. Indy), out of Storm Bird mare Marozia, is bred to handle the Belmont Stakes trip and looms a pace player at the very least under Javier Castellano. He has experience racing and training over the Belmont Park surface and could help his connections heal from the sting of Uncle Mo’s adventurous spring with a win in the Test of Champions.

Uncle Mo Returns in Timely Writer

Kentucky Derby hopeful Uncle Mo makes his much anticipated 3-year-old bow in the Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 12.

The undefeated son of Indian Charlie, out of Arch mare Playa Maya, began his career with a romping sprint score at Saratoga last summer. He followed that up with easy wins in the Champagne and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He was named 2-year-old champion and is the early favorite for the 2011 Kentucky Derby.

Todd Pletcher trains Uncle Mo for Repole Stables. His rivals on Saturday include Gallant Dreams, Madman Diaries, Rocking Out, Schoolyard Dreams, and Rattlesnake Bridge.

Uncle Mo is probably not 100% cranked up for his return but should be fit enough to run a flat mile around one turn. His training partner and stablemate Stay Thirsty came off the bench and easily captured last Saturday’s Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.

 

Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty Work Five Furlongs

Todd Pletcher’s 2011 Kentucky Derby hopefuls Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty, both owned by Repole Stable, worked five furlongs at Palm Meadows Training Center on Feb 20.

Uncle Mo, the 2010 undefeated 2-year-old champion, covered the distance in 1:01.40 (breezing). He is scheduled to make his 3-year-old bow in either the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) or the recently written Timely Writer at Gulfstream Park on March 12. His final Derby prep is expected to come in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in April.

Stay Thirsty, expected to make his first start of the year in the March 5 Gotham Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, covered his five furlong journey in 1:00.65.

Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty have been working every Sunday since Jan 30. They previously went four furlongs together in :47.45 on Feb 13.

Uncle Mo Works Four Furlongs

Uncle Mo had his second work of the year on Super Bowl Sunday. His four furlong drill in :49.60 ranked 18th out of 41 at Palm Meadows Training Center on Feb 6th.

Uncle Mo photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

His previous move was an easy three furlong breeze in :39.95 on Jan 30th. If everything goes according to plan, Todd Pletcher’s 2011 Kentucky Derby hopeful will run in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 12th, followed by the April 9 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Race Course.

Also working for Pletcher on Sunday was Uncle Mo’s stablemate Stay Thirsty, who posted a :49.60 four furlong breeze as well.

Travelin Man, a sharp maiden winner at Gulfstream Park on Jan 6th, breezed four furlongs in :49 flat, and the fleet Pletcher trainee might go next in the Hutcheson Stakes on Feb 26th.

Brethren went five furlongs in 1:01 and is expected to make his next start in the Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb 12th. His half-brother Super Saver won the 2010 Kentucky Derby.

 

 

Uncle Mo Begins Kentucky Derby Preparations

Recently named two-year-old champion Uncle Mo is back to work. The Todd Pletcher trainee, owned by Repole Stables, breezed an easy three furlongs in :39.95 at Palm Meadows Training Center on Jan 30th.

The undefeated colt was last seen winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs in November. He is expected to make his first 2011 start in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby (March 12th), followed by the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9th. His ultimate goal is the 2011 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

Uncle Mo’s stablemate Stay Thirsty, 5th in the BC Juvenile, also returned to the worktab on Sunday. He covered his three furlong journey in a much quicker :36.95, which was best of five moves at the distance.

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