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Uncle Mo – A Champion Horse Or Was He Another Over-hyped Wanna-be Superstar Thoroughbred?

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By Author: Lee Lane-Edgar
Total Articles: 365
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Although Uncle Mo was forced to miss the 2011 Triple Crown series due to what was believed to be a gastrointestinal problem ,which has now been discovered as an inflamed liver, he still has the potential for greatness.
As a two year old, he was nothing short of brilliant, winning his maiden by over 14 lengths, the Grade 1 Champagne by almost 5 lengths and the Breeders Cup Juvenile by an easy 4 ¼ lengths. The sky seemed to be the limit for this talented colt, and was certainly the most talented two year old to come along in at least a decade. Other talented superstars such as Big Brown, Barbaro, and Smarty Jones made their mark more in their three year old season, but even they were not as impressive as two year olds as was Uncle Mo.
His three year old season got off to a solid start, winning the Grade 3 Timely Writer stakes at Gulfstream at 1 mile, a race which he won very easily, and though the time was rather slow, he finished very strongly and he seemed to be primed for a big effort.
However, in his next race, the Wood Memorial, race caller Tom Durkin exclaimed as Uncle Mo faded to third that this was ...
... the biggest upset in the Wood since Secretariat. I would venture to say that it was even more shocking given that his competition was one of the weakest Wood fields I have ever seen. Even if he was at 70 percent, he should have been able to dispatch that field with ease, but apparently he had problems that were not easily detectable by his trainer.
Whenever a horse misses the Triple Crown series, he never goes on to the same level of fame as if he had participated in the most publicized races of the year. Even if he goes on to win back to back Breeders’ Cup Classics, he will not likely be widely known outside the racing world. Ghostzapper was one of the most freakishly gifted runners of the past 20 years, but he was forced to sit out his three year old season and thus avoided much of the hype surrounding those that participate in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont. If he had run like he did in his four year old year as a three year old, he would’ve won the Triple Crown easily and gone down as one of the top 20 horses of all time, and yet more people know who Funny Cide is than Ghostzapper, which is a real shame.
Tiznow also blossomed as a three year old but after the Triple Crown series ended and so didn’t become a household name such as Smarty Jones, but certainly was one of the best of the last 10 years.
Uncle Mo at least had a little bit of reputation built up before the Triple Crown and so some outside the racing world may know him a little better. I think he can regain his form and improve on it during the summer and establish himself as a dominant force in the handicapping division, but he will have to do something spectacular such as win many consecutive races like Cigar, or begin breaking track records like Dr. Fager, or win back to back Breeders’ Cup Classics like Tiznow, in order to stamp himself as one of the greats. Publicity isn’t important at all in determining how fast a horse really was, but unfortunately, even the seasoned horse racing pundits tend to give extra points to horses that competed in the Triple Crown, which really makes no sense, because the Triple Crown is simply another set of races no more a measure of ability than a lesser known race.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has said that there is no specific timetable for Uncle Mo’s return, but that if all goes well, he may return to the trainer’s barn in about a month. Let’s hope that he returns healthy and gives us a real show for the next couple years. If anyone has the innate talent to add that spark which racing so badly needs, it is Uncle Mo.

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