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Mar 11, 2011

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            As we draw ever closer to the Kentucky Derby on May 7th the three year old debut of last year’s two year old champion will come on Saturday March 12th at Gulfstream Park. The Timely Writer Stakes which was written after the meeting started will be where UNCLE MO will return to the races. The race is not a graded stakes and will be run over one mile and will carry a purse of $100,000. There are six horses in the race including UNCLE MO and he is 3-5 on the morning line. He drew the rail in a six horse field with a couple of interesting runners but none that should threaten UNCLE MO for the top honors.

            Pletcher has mapped out a schedule for UNCLE MO that calls for two prep races before the Kentucky Derby; the second prep is the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 9. Uncle Mo has had six works in preparation for his return, several in company with recent Gotham winner Stay Thirsty, culminating with an easy half-mile in 48.87 seconds last Sunday morning at Palm Meadows. Originally the plan was to go in the Tampa Bay Derby also to be run on March 12th. Instead Pletcher will be represented in that race by the undefeated BRETHREN who broke his maiden back in October at Belmont, followed that with an allowance win at Churchill Downs and his most recent effort came over the Tampa Bay Downs racetrack when he scored a very easy win in the Sam F Davis Stakes. That race usually serves as a prep for the Tampa Bay Derby and he will be very tough to beat as the quality of the field is not much. BRETHREN is a half brother to last year’s Kentucky Derby winner SUPER SAVER who was also trained by Todd Pletcher. The Timely Writer Stakes will be going off at about 4:25 at Gulfstream and the Tampa Bay Derby will be going off about an hour later at 5:20. These are two races that you should put on your schedule as must watch TV if you are a racing fan.

            Santa Anita also has a prep race on March 12th in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes, run over 1 and 1/16th miles and will carry a purse of $250,000. There will be a large field of 10 that will go postward with some very talented lightly raced three year olds and some that have already established themselves in COMMA TO THE TOP and JAYCITO. After March 12th the Derby picture will not be totally clear but will be on the way to giving us a glimpse of what is to come.

            Last week on March 5th, Aqueduct hosted the Gotham Stakes, a prep race for the April 9th Wood Memorial, the highlight of the Aqueduct meeting. For many years the Gotham was run over the main track at a one turn mile, however, the last six runnings have come at the 1 and 1/16th miles distance and it was run over the inner track. The Gotham had a field of seven horses that went postward after two early scratches and featured the return of STAY THIRSTY, UNCLE MO’s stablemate and work partner over the winter at Palm Meadows. STAY THIRSTY had four races in his two year old year, a second in his debut run at Belmont, a big win at Saratoga, a good second in the Hopeful behind BOYS AT TOSCONOVA and then a well beaten fifth to the aforementioned UNCLE MO in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite STAY THIRSTY got away at the back of the pack after hitting the starting gate, quickly recovered and moved up to gain a solid early position racing in fourth about three lengths off the early leader, THE FED EASED. As they moved into the turn STAY THIRSTY began to move up three wide alongside the two leaders and when he was asked to run by Ramon Dominguez he did so, rolling by the leaders and scoring by more than three lengths with longshot NORMAN ASBJORNSON finishing second and 8-5 second choice TOBY’S CORNER getting up for third. The time of the race wasn’t flashy in 1:44:3 but the early fractions were slow but the time was relative to the early splits. STAY THIRSTY is an improving colt who should be better at three and certainly has the breeding to go on to the longer distances being by BERNARDINI out of a STORM BIRD mare.

            We will be back here next week reviewing the three Derby preps that will be run on March 12th.


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