Off for nearly eight months without any serious running, Uncle Lino 's first work since his start in the 2016 Preakness Stakes (G1) went about as well as could be expected Jan. 18 at Santa Anita Park.
"Fast horses work fast and with all the horses out on the track today, he was a little too anxious, but we worked him as slow as we could," trainer Gary Sherlock said of Uncle Lino, who was vanned off after finishing seventh in the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course, where he set scorching fractions in the slop under pressure from Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winner Nyquist . A soft-tissue injury in his left front leg was later discovered, which led to the time off.
The fresh son of Uncle Mo ran three furlongs in :36 flat Wednesday under a tight hold from exercise rider Armando Garcia. With rain possible in Southern California from Wednesday night through Jan. 23, 198 horses recorded timed works on the Santa Anita main track, which also didn't help the competitive Uncle Lino's demeanor.
"(Garcia) was doing the best to hold him back, but with so many horses out there—they were all out in front of him and he can be aggressive," Sherlock said.
Sherlock said he has a long-term plan in mind for Uncle Lino in 2017, but declined to state the details. The immediate plan is to get him back to racing in March, hopefully in a conditional allowance race.
"There's nothing to be encouraged or not encouraged about," the veteran horseman said of Wednesday's drill. "It's like every other horse. He's got to get there and he's got to be OK, but that's the way it is with all horses. They're fine until something happens, then you've got to deal with it. I'm just hoping he makes it back, because I think he's a good horse.
"I have some long-range plans, but let's just get him back first."
Uncle Lino's 3-year-old year was highlighted by a victory in the California Chrome Stakes at Los Alamitos Race Course, which served as his springboard to the Preakness, but he also ran third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and was second in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3).
After his injury in the second stage of the Triple Crown, Uncle Lino came back to Sherlock's barn at Santa Anita, where he rested for four months, before his trainer decided to turn him out.
"He needed to be a horse for a little while, because we held him in the barn so long," Sherlock said.
Owned by Tom Mansor, Purple Shamrock Racing, and Sherlock, Uncle Lino has a 2-2-2 record from eight starts with $316,160 in earnings. He was a $52,000 purchase by Sherlock at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Also on the loaded worktab were Kentucky Derby hopefuls Mastery (four furlongs in :47 2/5) and Gormley (four furlongs in :51 1/5), along with Eclipse Award finalist Drefong (four furlongs in :47 4/5), Om (three furlongs in :37 1/5), Noted and Quoted (four furlongs in :48 2/5), Shane's Girlfriend (four furlongs in :48 2/5), and Term of Art (four furlongs in :48 2/5).