Uncle Mo , the 2010 champion 2-year-old male and the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), is expected to launch his 3-year-old season in the Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream Park March 12. From there he’s scheduled to head to Aqueduct for the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) April 9 in his final Kentucky Derby prep.
The Wood Memorial, first run in 1925, has served as a final prep for numerous Derby contenders (Triple Crown winners Secretariat and Seattle Slew immediately come to mind). The $100,000 Timely Writer, however, is new, and was instituted by Gulfstream management to entice owner Mike Repole to run Uncle Mo at Gulfstream instead of entering the colt in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) the same day.
The Timely Writer honors Peter and Francis Martin’s star colt from the early 1980s. A son of Staff Writer out of the Sette Bello mare Timely Roman, Timely Writer was co-highweighted at 126 pounds with champion Deputy Minister on the 1981 Experimental Free Handicap and was one of the winter book favorites for the 1982 Kentucky Derby.
Timely Writer began his racing career for a $30,000 claiming tag at Monmouth Park in early June 1981. Vanned from trainer Dominic Imprescia Jr.’s barn at Suffolk Downs, Timely Writer proved a hit, scoring by eight lengths. Four weeks later in his second start he won the Mayflower Stakes at Suffolk, racing in the name Nitram Stable (Martin spelled backward). The colt that Florida horseman Tony Everard had bought for the two Boston meat suppliers for $13,500 at the 1980 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale already had earned about three times his purchase price.
Timely Writer was introduced to major racing in his third start. He ran a solid third in the 1981 Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II), and then won the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga over unbeaten Sapling Stakes (gr. I) winner Out of Hock.
Timely Writer’s next three starts came at Belmont Park. After placing in the Futurity Stakes (gr. I) and the Cowdin Stakes (gr. II), Timely Writer took charge of the division with a 4 3/4-length score in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) under new jockey Jeff Fell, who would ride Timely Writer from then on. Timely Writer defeated Calumet Farm’s unbeaten filly Before Dawn, with Deputy Minister finishing fourth.
Imprescia thought about running Timely Writer in the Laurel Futurity (gr. I) in late October but decided to send the Northern Dancer grandson to Florida to be prepared for a 3-year campaign. In Timely Writer’s absence, Deputy Minister won the Laurel Futurity and then the Young America Stakes (gr. I) at Meadowlands and was voted juvenile male champion. In his native Canada, Deputy Minister was named Horse of the Year and champion 2-year-old male.
Timely Writer began his 3-year-old season with an unplaced finish in an allowance race at Hialeah in February. Less than two weeks later he contested the Flamingo Stakes (gr. I) at the South Florida track. Breaking from the outside 15th hole in the 1 1/8-mile race, he took the lead approaching the stretch and scored by 3 1/2 lengths. He then left no doubt who was boss of the division when he won the Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream in early April.
Deputy Minister also had spent the winter in Florida preparing for the classics but had not fared well. He finished unplaced in two starts and then wrenched an ankle. He was sidelined until the fall.
Bad luck also came to haunt Timely Writer. At Churchill Downs preparing for the Kentucky Derby, Timely Writer suffered from an intestinal ailment that proved so serious that he missed not only the Derby, but also the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
The Kentucky Derby also suffered another big loss. Hostage, the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) winner, fractured a sesamoid during a workout at Churchill Downs and was retired.
In the absence of those stars, Gato Del Sol won the Derby; Aloma's Ruler took the Preakness; and Conquistador Cielo captured the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Timely Writer returned to the races in August and promptly won the Yankee Handicap at Suffolk. After winning an allowance race at Saratoga later that month, he took on older runners in the Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont. Favored in the 1 1/4-mile race, he failed to fire and was beaten 25 1/4 lengths.
Timely Writer returned to his old self in a prep for the Oct. 9 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), capturing a 1 5/8-mile race by 7 1/2 lengths. The Gold Cup, which was scheduled to be Timely Writer’s final start before heading off to stud, turned into a nightmare. Favored in the 1 1/2-mile race, Timely Writer took a bad step near the far turn and broke his left front cannon bone. He fell, creating a chain reaction in which Khatango and Johnny Dance went down and Sing Sing lost his rider. Timely Writer and Johnny Dance were euthanized.
Timely Writer, who was to have been sent to Dr. William O. Reed’s Mare Haven Farm near Lexington to stand at stud, was buried in the infield at Belmont near Ruffian. The great filly had broken down during a match race with Foolish Pleasure in 1975.