Uncle Mo … Uncle Mo … Uncle Mo. Where have we heard that name before? Oh, that’s right. We heard it at Saratoga last summer when he blitzed a field of maiden special weights by 14 1/4 lengths. We heard it during the lead up to the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont where he ended up winning by 4 3/4 lengths, we heard it heading into the Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile where he defeated a few other Derby hopefuls by 4 1/4 lengths. That was only 2010!
In January, he was rewarded for his outstanding two year-old campaign with an eclipse award for being the Top Two Year-Old Male Horse.
Uncle Mo, the Kentucky bred colt trained by Todd Pletcher hasn’t raced for four months. There has been much hype about this colt. Yes, there is always a horse or two every year leading up to the Derby that gets more attention than others, but this horse seems to have something special. He deserves every ounce of praise with his performances thus far. His explosive runs at the top of the lane and ability to draw away from top competitors is what makes him the odds on favorite.
This weekend, he will most likely face five other horses in the $100,000 Timely Writer at Gulfstream Park. He has also been entered in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs. I don’t see him running in that race as Pletcher does not want to have his stable mate, undefeated Brethren in the same race, yet.
Look for the consensus #1 Derby contender to run away with the Timely Writer stakes. I just don’t see any of the other five horses giving Uncle Mo too much trouble. The race is only a mile, but Pletcher and company simply want their colt to get a race in and come out strong. It’s the perfect tune-up for either the Florida Derby or Wood Memorial next month.
On the West coast at Santa Anita Park, 10 three year-old colts and geldings get set to make their mark on the racing World and take one step closer to getting their shot at the Kentucky Derby on May 7.
San Felipe Stakes (Grade 2) – 1 1/16 miles – $250,000
Making his way back from a trip to Northern California last month, is Comma to the Top. After winning three consecutive stakes in six weeks at Hollywood Park, this Florida bred colt trained by Peter Miller made a trip up North to Golden Gate Fields for the Grade 3 El Camino Derby on February 12. It was supposed to be a two horse race between Positive Response and himself. It didn’t turn out that way. In a six horse field, he sat second to Jakesam the entire race and had every opportunity to make his run. It didn’t happen. Instead, he failed to mount any type of run and fell back to finish fourth beaten 4 1/4 lengths. Even for a three time stakes winner including a Grade 1 and 3, he definitely needs to prove himself on Saturday.
Jaycito hasn’t been seen since his disappointing seventh place finish in the BC Juvenile. This Kentucky bred colt trained by Mike Mitchell will be tough to beat if the race sets up for him on the front end. On paper, there seems to be enough speed to garner fast fractions to allow Jaycito to make his move from well off. He is already a Grade 1 winner (Norfolk Stakes) and runner-up (Del Mar Futurity). Look for him to rebound from his effort in November.
The Jerry Hollendorfer trained colt Jakesam is one horse that will get this race going from the start. This front running Kentucky bred loves to be on the front end. He was there last time out in the Grade 3 El Camino at Golden Gate. He led the entire way but was passed and defeated by Silver Medallion. However, he did stay in front of both Positive Response and Comma to the Top. Prior to the El Camino, he ran second to Positive Response in the California Derby. He briefly led at the far turn, but on that day, Positive Response was firing on all cylinders and drew away to win by almost 3 lengths. If he can get out on the front end with no major challenge, he could be tough. If he is challenged, I can’t see him hanging on late with Comma to the Top and Jaycito chasing him down.
We are less than two month away until the run for the roses. Each race that goes by gives a better picture of what to expect and which horses will mostly likely make the trip to Louisville. These are exciting times!