Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty , Mike Repole’s pair of sophomores pointed toward the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), took to Churchill Downs main track Oct. 30, both notching well-watched five-furlong works.
Trainer Todd Pletcher was on hand to watch both colts prep for the World Championships and saw Uncle Mo, last year’s 2-year-old champion go in 1:01 2/5, recording splits of :12 2/5, :24 4/5, :36 3/5, galloping out six furlongs in 1:14 2/5.
Stay Thirsty, by Bernardini , worked in company with Dirt Mile (gr. I) hopeful Rule and went in 1:00 3/5. Breaking off two lengths behind his workmate, he recorded splits of :24 1/5, and :35 4/5 and galloped out in 1:14 4/5.
Stay Thirsty’s move was the fifth best of 33 at the distance. Jockey Javier Castellano was up. Uncle Mo’s drill was the 10th fastest at the trip under regular rider John Velazquez. Both riders were able to get in from a snowed-in New York metro area.
Pletcher noted Uncle Mo’s effort was: “Perfect for what we were looking for; very nice and steady. I was very pleased.”
As for Stay Thirsty, “He was a little bit quicker on the five-eighths time. His gallop out was slightly slower than Uncle Mo’s but both were excellent works.”
Both colts have had an interesting journey since they were here this spring for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Stay Thirsty, out of the Storm Bird mare Marozia, was 12th in the Run for the Roses and rebounded to run second in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and then won the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) and Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga to move to the top of the 3-year-old division. In his first start against older horses he ran third behind Flat Out and Drosselmeyer in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I).
Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie, out of the Arch mare Playa Maya) was scratched before the Derby and it was later determined he was suffering from a rare liver ailment. Sent to Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky., for treatment and rehab, he returned to training in July and responded with a runner-up effort (by a nose) in the seven-furlong King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I), then was a three-length winner of the one-mile Kelso Handicap (gr. II).
“In the spring, the horse wasn’t himself; he wasn’t eating right, he didn’t look right, his hair coat was off,” Pletcher said. “The horse has thrived and put on weight since he’s come back. I don’t think there is a horse on the grounds that looks better than he does. He’s training with enthusiasm. We’ve come a long way since May.
“We’ve got him into a really good state of mind coming into it,” Pletcher continued. “This work, and the work before we left Belmont were very similar works where he just got into a good, steady rhythm and just kind of kept clicking off those :12 and change fractions. In a mile and a quarter race, that’s what we’re going to be looking for and he's coming up to it as well as he can be.”
Before shipping to Churchill, Uncle Mo went six furlongs in 1:13 over Belmont’s training track.
Pletcher feels he has an edge with both colts in that they've run over the Churchill surface. Last year Uncle Mo won the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) by 4 1/4 lengths.
"It's a big edge to know you’ve handled the racetrack here in the afternoon," he said. "We’re talking about a track that changes by the hour. There were two different tracks here this morning. There was the one before the break and the one after the break. It was much tighter before the break earlier in the morning. After the break it was more like you will get race day."
Pletcher’s other works from the morning:
WinStar Farm’s Rule, pre-entered in the $1 million Dirt Mile, worked five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 (eighth best of 33 at the distance) while working inside of Stay Thirsty. The 4-year-old son of Roman Ruler has a 1-1-3 slate from eight starts this season with a third-place effort in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) as his best effort.
“Rule’s work was OK,” Pletcher said. “I think you’ll see some horses as they get a little older and little more mature that they know the difference between the morning and the afternoon and I think he’s wise to that a little bit. It wasn’t exceptional, it was satisfactory. He knows when game time is.”
Prior to the renovation break, Dogwood Stable's Aikenite went four furlongs in :47 4/5, the fifth best of 58 going a half-mile. The 4-year-old son of Yes It's True has been pre-entered with a first preference in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) and a second preference in the Dirt Mile. Earlier this year Aikenite won the seven-furlong Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II).
On the turf course, TVG Mile (gr. IT) candidate Sidney's Candy worked with 2-year-old Finale (Juvenile Turf) to his outside, starting a length back. Both hit a half-mile in :49 1/5, galloping out five furlongs in 1:03.
“Both his work this morning and the one on Tuesday (four furlongs in :50) were exceptional,” Pletcher said of Sidney’s Candy. “He finished up really, really well. He handled the course great. Physically, he looks well. I love the way he finishes up his works.”
Sidney’s Candy, a 4-year-old son of Candy Ride —Fair Exchange, by Storm Cat, came to Pletcher’s barn during the summer. Racing for WinStar Farm and Rubio B. Stable, he won the Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga July 31 and was third behind Gio Ponti and Get Stormy in the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland.
“He came to us in excellent condition and he’s been a straight-forward horse to train. He’s very professional in the mornings,” Pletcher said.
Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier, and Derrick Smith’s Finale, a son of leading first-crop sire Scat Daddy —Twinkle, by Lively One, broke his maiden in the turf at Belmont in mid-July, then added the Continental Mile Stakes on the grass at Monmouth in late August and took Woodbine’s Summer Stakes (Can-IIIT) in September in three efforts on turf.
“Finale worked great to break a few lengths off Sidney’s Candy and finish up the way he did,” Pletcher said. “It was an exceptional work for a 2-year-old.”