October 10, 2010

Uncle Mo and Gio

What would Uncle Mo do for an encore after his swiftly run 14 ¼ length runaway victory when breaking his maiden in his debut at Saratoga? Winning one of the most prestigious juvenile stakes in the world with disdainful ease would do nicely. Yesterday at Belmont Park, Uncle Mo did just that, as he announced himself as the favorite for next month’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with an impressive romp in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. With rider Johnny Velazquez acting as pilot, Uncle Mo cruised to the finish line in 1:34.51 on a fast Belmont strip. It was one of the fastest final times in the rich history of the Champagne. In fact it was the third fastest ever, behind only champions Devil’s Bag and Seattle Slew. Trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Repole Stable, the bay son of Indian Charlie strode clear from his opposition after setting fast early fractions in tandem with longshot I’m Steppin’ It Up to waltz home 4 ¾ lengths the best. Third choice Mountain Town ran a huge race to finish second, and was nearly ten lengths clear of the rest of the field.

What has impressed me so much about Uncle Mo so far is the way he has finished off these races. Not looking like a one-turn specialist in any way, he strides out to the wire as if added distance will matter little to this talent. To run a final quarter yesterday in 24 seconds after being involved in a speed dual was simply special. After the race, Pletcher said the sky’s the limit for his charge, and I wholeheartedly agree. I’m not one for juvenile hyperbole, but Uncle Mo’s first two races are as impressive as anything I’ve seen in a long time. I remember when Seattle Slew began his career 34 years ago, and this is similar. Of course, he has 15 more great performances and a Triple Crown to go to approach the rarified air of Slew, but at the very least, I can report that Uncle Mo is the real deal.

If Uncle Mo defines equine potential, than we need only to look to another of yesterday’s top performers to understand the meaning of equine class. Gio Ponti, coming back after a tough luck loss in Arlington’s Million and dropping down to the one mile distance for the first time this year, exuded class in winning Keeneland’s $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile. Rider Ramon Dominguez knew what he had yesterday, and he was able to sit chilly-willy on the five-year-old champion, as Gio Ponti smoothly split horses on his way to an effortless one length tally. The victory marked the sixth grade I victory for the dual Eclipse Award winner, and pushed his lifetime earnings over $4.6 million. In his four-season career to date, Gio Ponti has yet to run a bad race. The victory was his 11th in 22 starts, and should set him up perfectly for an attempt in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Last year he ran second to the great Zenyatta in the BC Classic, but with the Classic being run on a traditional dirt surface this year, it would seem that the decision to run in the Mile instead of the Classic would be the prudent one. In the Mile, things will not get any easier though, as waiting in the wings is another great mare, two-time defending champion Goldikova. After yesterday’s sublime performance, you would have to give America’s best hope, Gio Ponti, a real chance against the great French mare.


Tiznow said...

Uncle Mo just gets the mind clicking with possibilities...every race he stretches out a little more will be anticipated with much excitement on my end. I've already m...ade a deal with the racing devil to please let this one stay healthy after we were already robbed of Kantharos this year and will never know what he could have done.
Gio...Easy decision in my mind after yesterday. He beat a decent field and proved he can still quicken in just a couple strides. If somehow he were able to conquor the queen Goldikova,which I don't think he will, and Z or Blame lost the classic I think he has a resume this year that is HOY worthy. (him or Blind Luck in that scenario if she wins Distaff)

Brian Zipse said...

I never was on the Kantaharos bandwagon, but Mo, well he is a horse of a different color.

Gio for Hall of Fame?

NetworkEmpowerment said...

I would've loved to see a Kantharos vs Boys vs Mo match up. They could've been the Curlin, SS, and Hard Spun of 2011, lol. Though I do think Jaycito and Stay Thirst could really turn into monsters with more distance and age.

Brian I am curious to what you think of Mo's 94 BSF. I thought it was kind of low considering he ran virtually the same fractions as were run in the Frizette and came home a full second quicker. Also, he ran .1 seconds slower than Tizway in the Kelso, which was only run six days earlier.

Gio looked really good. I think America has some good milers this year that will at least present a good stiff challenge to the Euros.

Celeste said...

Yes, yes, and yes. Loved Uncle Mo's moves and Gio Ponti - wow. Hopeful that Uncle Mo really is the real deal, but Goldikova really worries me for GP in the mile.

Brian Zipse said...

I agree, 94 seems a bit low for Mo. Maybe Andy Beyer has been adversely effected by his trip to Hollywood.

markinsac said...

Awful Andy Beyer should have never ventured to the left coast. I was there and i was one of the zen zealots booing and pointing out how he "threw her out" of last years Classic. He want's attention and is part of the "East Coast bias conspiricy."

As far as "MO" is concerned, so far so good. He may be "single" material in the BC pick 3's etc. Along with Zenyatta,

william said...

lucky enough to be at mos race...looked just as good in the paddock, mike repole was thrilled lol.....also watched gio on tv, brian when you say effortlessly your right on point, ramon had them measured the whole trip it was wonderful to watch him split horses