First he electrified a Travers Day crowd with a 14-1/4 length, wire-to-wire, maiden victory. Then he tied Seattle Slew’s time of 1:34.51 in winning The Champagne Stakes at one mile; only Devil’s Bag, in 1983, posted a faster time. Now Uncle Mo, the Todd Pletcher-trained wonder baby, is off to Louisville as an early favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 6th.
Uncle Mo (short for "Momentum") has raced with a maturity not seen in many two-year-olds. In his maiden trip he broke to the lead but did not run away from the field, instead he paced himself until opening up at the top of the stretch. In the Champagne, the son of Indian Charlie co-operated with jockey John Velazquez when asked to just hold off late challenger Mountain Town, then when Velazquez asked for more, Uncle Mo opened up to register a 4-3/4 length win. Velazquez remarked, "The instant I asked him he accelerated. He really did surprise me in how quickly he picked it up. He galloped out really well."
Because Uncle Mo likes the lead, he hasn’t raced with dirt being kicked in his face. To ensure that the colt’s composure endures, even if he finds himself in the back, Pletcher has been working Uncle Mo behind a small field of horses to test his reactions. So far, Uncle Mo is passing every test. Uncle Mo’s composure is not limited to the race, either; the colt has been unfazed by winner’s circle crowds, cameras, and cheering fans. He’s been calm in the paddock, patient at the gate.
Uncle Mo’s chief competition is Boys at Tosconova, ridden by Ramon Dominguez and trained by Rick Dutrow, Jr. A son of Officer, the unbeaten Boys at Tosconova cruised to victory in the Hopeful Stakes on Labor Day at Saratoga, leaving Dutrow brimming with confidence about his chances in the BC Juvenile.
One thing is for sure; both Uncle Mo and Boys at Tosconova will have the cream of the jockey crop on their backs -- Ramon Dominguez and John Velazquez are the two top-earning North American jockeys. On November 6th, will one of them add a Breeders’ Cup purse to their prize money?