The long-awaited return is finally just about here.
In what I recall to be one of the most puzzling 3 yr old seasons I’ve ever seen, the mystery surrounding Uncle Mo has only led to even more uncertainty and unresolved questions. On Saturday, however, the former 2 yr old champion is scheduled to re-emerge for what should be one of the most exciting undercards ever on Travers Stakes Day. Uncle Mo returns and the well documented story continues…………
After an unsettling spring and early summer for Team Repole, it must feel like the return is at least twice the amount of days it has been since Uncle Mo last raced. On Saturday it will actually be 140 since the Uncle Mo story of greatness began to take a turn at the Wood Memorial. Coming into that weekend at Aqueduct, Uncle Mo’s upside was larger than any other 3 yr old on the Kentucky Derby trail. Even trainer Todd Pletcher was convinced that his colt was on another level.
Before the Wood Memorial, it was a dominating 2 yr old season that created the buzz surrounding a probable Kentucky Derby win or maybe even a potential Triple Crown for Mo. The icing on the cake in 2010 was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile win, a beautiful effort that ended with him drawing away by 4 at Churchill Downs. After beginning the 2011 season with a win that took very little effort in the Timely Writer Stakes, Uncle Mo moved on to Aqueduct, undefeated and looking for his 3rd Grade 1 win. Expectations were so high that the questions being tossed around were not about if he would win but by how lengths he would win by. So when the 1-10 favorite was tracked down in the stretch and finished 3rd, the speculation began.
After the dust settled on arguments revolving around his blood lines and inability to win at any distances over 1 1/16, the news broke that something else was wrong with Mo. Diagnosis: Gastrointestinal Infection. After listening to the Vets that attended to Mo, Mike Repole made the decision to move forward and entered his colt into Kentucky Derby 137. With plenty of balls still up in the air, in the eyes of the betting public, his chances of winning began to decline rather swiftly. Also declining was Uncle Mo’s weight. After a steady diet of antibiotics discontinued, Mo’s health regressed and he was officially scratched from the Kentucky Derby.
With his health being the number 1 concern, Mo was moved back to WinStar Farm to recover. While there, the Vets were able to make a final diagnosis: Cholangiohepatitis. The rare liver disease had the champ down and out around the stables but the treatments eventually got him back on the road to recovery. Although long, the road finally brings him back and here to Saratoga for the $250,000 7 Furlong King’s Bishop Stakes.
Beginning on 7/22 Mo hit the dirt for 5 works in just over 4 week’s time. At just about Sunrise this past Sunday, Mo was out for his final work before the King’s Bishop and his 3rd 5F work since August 8th. And on Sunday it was his best breeze yet. Working in company with Curlin Stakes winner Turbo Compressor, Uncle Mo went sub 1:00 for the first time since his return — 59.95. With his regular rider, John Valezquez, aboard, the final quarter came in at 23.62, a sharp finish and overall impressive final tune up.
So the stage is set for the return. With the Travers Stakes taking on main event honors, Unlce Mo still has the opportunity to steal the show from his stablemate yet again. Headlining the feature Race is Stay Thirsty, a horse that has recently emerged from the Unlce Mo shadows at Repole Stables. It’s not just another Saturday at Saratoga this weekend so make sure you’re either there or tuned in. Welcome back MO, it’s going to be a pleasure to see you run and even more confusing if you win…………Good Luck.
Written by: Little Brink