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Apr 08, 2011

Uncle Mo towers over Wood Memorial field



Ozone Park, NY (Sports Network) - Leading three-year-old Uncle Mo is the runaway favorite for Saturday's $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. The 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby prep has a large field of 10.

Owned by Mike Repole, Uncle Mo is the overwhelming choice for not only the Wood, but also next month's Run for the Roses. The colt, trained by Todd Pletcher, won last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile and was voted 2010 champion two-year-old male.

"It's not like I have 700 horses and I've been in this game since I was 18 and I'm 85 years old," said Repole about owning a champion. "I'm not stupid enough or naive enough not to know how lucky I am."

Uncle Mo, undefeated in four career starts, will again be ridden by John Velazquez from post five.

As a two-year-old, Uncle Mo won all three starts, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Champagne Stakes. He was honored with the Eclipse Award as 2010 champion two-year-old colt.

The champion's lone 2011 start was an easy victory last month in the Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream Park. His career earnings now stand at just over $1.3 million.

The top challenger will most likely be Gotham Stakes runner-up Norman Asbjornson. The colt, trained by Chris Grove, will start from post eight with Julian Pimentel riding.

Owned by Thomas McClay, Norman Asbjornson was a 47-1 longshot when he finished 3 1/4-lengths behind Stay Thirsty in the Gotham last month. Last Sunday Stay Thirsty, a stablemate of Uncle Mo, was seventh in the Florida Derby.

"It was a bigger effort than I expected coming off the 60-day layoff," said Grove after the Gotham. "I was happy with him."

Norman Asbjornson has two wins in six career starts for $117,200, $50,000 of which is graded stakes money.

Gotham third-place finisher Toby's Corner has drawn post two for the Wood and will have Eddie Castro in the saddle. The chestnut colt is owned by Dianne Cotter and trained by Graham Motion.

In February Toby's Corner won the Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct for his third win. In five lifetime starts he has earned $122,240.

Here is the complete field for the Wood Memorial in post position order: Starship Caesar, Cornelio Velasquez; Toby's Corner, Eddie Castro; Full of Scoundrels, C.C. Lopez; Arthur's Tale, Ramon Dominguez; Uncle Mo, John Velazquez; Preachintothedevil, Junior Alvarado; Duca, Jon Court; Norman Asbjornson, Julian Pimentel; Isn't He Perfect, Channing Hill and Son of Posse, Francisco Maysonett.

Post-time for the 87th Wood Memorial is scheduled for 5:50 p.m. (et).

Beginning with Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox in 1930, 11 Wood winners have also captured the Run for the Roses, including Triple Crown champs Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946) and Seattle Slew (1977). Other three-year-olds who turned the double play were Twenty Grand (1931), Johnstown (1939), Hoop Jr. (1945), Foolish Pleasure (1975), Bold Forbes (1976), Pleasant Colony (1981) and mostly recently Fusaichi Pegasus (2000).

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