With owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher watching, 2010 juvenile champion Uncle Mo blazed four furlongs in a bullet :46.57 over Belmont Park's training track for his next start in the one-mile Kelso Handicap (gr. II) Oct. 1.
Uncle Mo, whose time was the fastest of 79 workouts at the distance, and Repole's Travers Stakes (gr. I) winner Stay Thirsty , led a host of Pletcher's stars working out Sept. 25 for upcoming engagements on Belmont's "Super Saturday" program.
Uncle Mo, who returned to racing after a four-month absence to finish second by a nose in the Foxwoods King’s Bishop (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 27, zipped through a seemingly effortless half-mile under jockey John Velazquez.
“That was faster than I wanted to go; it’s not what we set out to do, but I think it’s an indication of how well he’s doing at the moment,” said Pletcher. “We were looking for a ‘final breeze before the race,’ a standard 48, 49, and I think he’s just doing so well now that he went a little quicker than that. It seems like he’s moving great and everything he’s been doing since the King’s Bishop has been exceptional, so we’re pleased with that.”
Stay Thirsty, who will take on older rivals for the first time in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational (gr. I) at 1 1/4 miles, was up next. With Javier Castellano in the irons, Stay Thirsty covered four furlongs in :47.07, third-fastest at the distance.
“Stay Thirsty is on a maintenance program,” said Pletcher of Stay Thirsty, who also counts the Jim Dandy (gr. II) and the Gotham (gr. III) among his 2011 victories. “Obviously he’s been in a lot of races that are 1 ½ miles, 1 1/8 miles, 1 ¼ miles, so we’re just trying to keep him ticking over and he seems to be maintaining his form really well.
“It seems that since the [Kentucky] Derby he’s trained like a different horse,” he added. “You see some horses, they run in the Derby, it knocks them for a loop and it takes them a long time to recover. He sort of did the opposite; he kind of thrived off it. The Belmont (when second to Ruler On Ice) was his best race to that point and he followed that with two better races (in the the Jim Dandy and Travers). It just seems like he’s getting better and better.”
"Super Saturday" offers six graded stakes, five of them grade Is, worth $2.7 million. The program will be telecast on ESPN Classic and ESPN3.com from 4:30-7:30 p.m. EDT. All six are “Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4-5.
Repole said Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty "both went probably faster than you want them to go, but Johnny is on Mo, and I don’t think Mo knows the word ‘slow,’ so 46 for him is 50 for everybody else. There are a lot of distractions (on the training track) so Thirsty wasn’t as focused to begin the work, but down the lane Javier just gave him a little tick, and all of a sudden you can just tell he looked good, and his gallop out was amazing.”
Also preparing for Super Saturday was Life At Ten, most recently third behind Blind Luck and Havre de Grace in the Delaware Handicap (gr. II) July 16. The 6-year-old mare went four furlongs in :49.61 for Sthe $350,000 Beldame Invitational (gr. I), in which Woodward Stakes (gr. I) winner Havre de Grace is expected to be the heavy favorite.
“She did not work with blinkers today; we were looking for a different kind of work,” said Pletcher. “She is training as well as ever; I’ve been saying that all year. I don’t anticipate she is going to beat Havre de Grace but I do think she will run to her capabilities.”
Super Espresso, owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, remained possible for the 1 1/8-mile Beldame, Pletcher said.
“We are weighing our options between this and the (Juddmonte) Spinster,” said Pletcher. He said he will be sending Molly Pitcher (gr. II) winner Quiet Giant (4f, :49.64) to Keeneland for the Oct. 9 Spinster. “We probably won’t decide until entry day.”
Pletcher said that Calibrachoa and Dark Thunder (4f, :49.06) might be joined by stablemate Caixa Eletronica (4f, :48.84) for the six-furlong Vosburgh (gr. I).
“Caixa Eletronica is ideally suited for a mile, but he’s not going to run against Uncle Mo,” said Pletcher. “This race looks like it could come up with a really hot pace and he’s the kind of horse who, if ridden properly, can sit back and make one run, and he’s game enough to do about anything.”
Pletcher also sent out Repole’s Stopshoppingmaria, who is being pointed to the Frizette Stakes (gr. I) Oct. 8. The filly, a nearly 10-length winner of her maiden race at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 14, went five furlongs in 1:01.26.
“It looks like she handled the time since her maiden win very well,” said the trainer. “She’s coming into the Frizette the way we hoped.”