Owner Mike Repole said a decision on whether Uncle Mo will run in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) will be made late Thursday, May 5, or early the next day.
After the one-time Derby favorite exercised over the Churchill Downs track early May 5, Repole said it was obvious that the son of Indian Charlie looks good physically but is still bothered by internal problems that are being reviewed by a team of veterinarians.
“His energy is up, his appetite is up, and his attitude is up,” Repole said. “You can see how he’s doing physically. But when it’s an internal problem...these horses can't talk.”
The 2-year-old champion male and winner of the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) has been treated for a gastro-intestinal tract infection since sustaining his first career loss when third in the April 9 Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I).
Noting that the decision on whether Uncle Mo runs will be made by a “committee” consisting of three veterinarians and trainer Todd Pletcher, Repole said his “worst nightmare” is that those four come to a 2-2 tie on whether Uncle Mo runs. He then clarified that statement to say that the final decision would be up to Pletcher, even if the veterinarians agreed the colt was OK to run but Pletcher did not want to go.
Repole had earlier said a decision might not be made until Derby Day, but on May 5 said the connections had an obligation to race fans to let them know earlier. “If he is not 100% tomorrow (Friday), he will not be 100% Saturday,” said the owner, who will also be represented in the Derby by Pletcher-trained Stay Thirsty.
The veterinarians, headed by Dr. Doug Byars, who has been treating Uncle Mo for the infection, will meet later May 5 to review tests they conducted earlier in the day, Repole said, with a decision to follow.
“It may not be the decision I want (if he does not run) but that would be the decision,” said Repole.
If Uncle Mo misses the Derby, he would not contest either the Preakness (gr. I) or Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Repole said, adding he would be pointed toward a series of races to include the Jim Dandy (gr. II), Travers Stakes (gr. I), and Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I).
Jockey John Velazquez, who was aboard Uncle Mo when he went to the track, said he is not part of the decision on whether the colt runs in the Derby.
“I know what you know,” Velazquez repeated several times when asked about the nature of Uncle Mo's internal health. “He looks good to me...but it’s up to them.”
With question marks surrounding whether his Derby mount will even run in the race, Velazquez said he would continue to show up at the Pletcher barn and be ready to ride. “I am just going to show up and do my work,” he said.