With Uncle Mo installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, there is a lot of pressure on this horse to run the race of his life. Never mind that as a 3-year-old he’ll be running against older and more experienced horses – Uncle Mo has also had to overcome a series of hardships this year. After a disastrous run in the Wood Memorial, Uncle Mo never made it to any of the Triple Crown races after being diagnosed with a mysterious liver ailment that had his veterinarians and connections baffled for weeks. Then in storybook style he came back to have a strong showing at Saratoga and Belmont winning the Kelso and running second place in the Kings Bishop.
Adding to the confusion surrounding Uncle Mo’s readiness for the big day on Saturday was his lackluster workout on October 30th over the main track at Churchill Downs. Uncle Mo covered five furlongs in 1:01 2/5, hardly a time that transmits confidence in the minds of horseplayers. After running the first quarter in 24.48 and three-eights in 36.58 he didn’t gain much speed and needed slight urging from regular jockey John Velazquez to finish his final quarter in 24.60.
According to trainer Todd Pletchter the work went just the way he wanted. Of course trainers always say that as long as their horse doesn’t collapse during a work. Yesterday on November 2nd, Uncle Mo was back on the track for an early morning gallop. According to spectators and clockers who were there to watch his form and presence looked to be much improved from his un-spectacular workout a few days earlier.
Whatever you’re thoughts on Uncle Mo’s chances in the Classic; you’ve got to hand it to his connections for not backing away from a challenge. As a young horse who has never won beyond 1 1/16 miles and who’s optimal distance is much shorter than the classic distance, if he pulls off a victory here he will definitely be a serious contender for Horse of the Year.