Uncle Mo May Debut At Gulfstream
UNCLE MO MAY DEBUT AT GULFSTREAM
Gulfstream Park racing secretary Dan Bork has written a one-mile overnight handicap for 3-year-olds to be run here March 12. The race, called the Timely Writer, will offer a $100,000 purse and will carry no conditions, which makes it open to all 3-year-olds, including reigning division leader and Eclipse Award champion Uncle Mo.
March 12 also is the date of the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs. Uncle Mo's connections have been pointing the horse to an early or mid-March return.
'We were looking to put up a prep race for 3-year-olds who have already earned enough graded points to get into the Kentucky Derby but might not have wanted a race as tough as the Fountain of Youth at this point of the winter,' said Tim Ritvo, vice president of racing at Gulfstream Park. 'We are also looking at this race as a possible alternative for 3-year-olds not quite ready for the Fountain of Youth who needed a little later prep to make the Florida Derby.'
The Grade 2 Fountain of Youth will be run Feb. 26, with the Grade 1 Florida Derby on April 3, 22 days after the Timely Writer.
'It's an interesting race, and one we'll certainly take a look at,' said Todd Pletcher, who trains Uncle Mo for owner Mike Repole. 'The fact that it's on the same day as the Tampa Derby obviously works into our timing, and at the moment, I'd say he'll run in one of the two races on the twelfth. I'll talk to Mike over the next couple of days and discuss our options. All that matters to me at the moment is that Uncle Mo is doing good, and right now, he's doing great.'
Trainer Nick Zito said he might have considered the Timely Writer for Holy Bull winner Dialed In, had the distance been different.
'Both the timing and the distance of the race really don't fit my schedule for Dialed In, although it's the distance more than the date that's the big issue,' Zito said. 'I'd like to find another alternative for my horse rather than the Fountain of Youth, and had the handicap been written at a mile and one-eighth rather than one mile I'd probably think about running him in there.'
Zito said Dialed In, who picked up $240,000 in graded stakes earnings for his impressive victory in the one-mile Holy Bull, would likely return either in the Fountain of Youth or train up to the Florida Derby.
by Mike Welsch
WEST COULD BE LACKING IN DERBY CONTENDERS THIS YEAR
There are 83 days until the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and the West Coast could be lacking a strong contender for the Run for the Roses after its two top candidates -- Tapizar and Comma to the Top -- both got knocked off Saturday in California.
But it's not just that they both lost, it's how they lost. Neither colt finished in the top three in their respective Derby prep. Right now, a little less than three months from the Derby, there are no Lookin At Luckys, Pioneerof the Niles or Brother Dereks out west.
Tapizar, the 1-5 favorite, was rank the whole way in the $250,000 Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita and faded to fifth after looking so impressive in a 4 1/4-length victory in the Grade III Sham Stakes on Jan. 15.
Comma to the Top, gate-to-wire winner of the Grade I CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 17, rated off the lead in the $200,000 Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields and never seriously threatened, finishing fourth in the 1 1/8-mile race.
The two winners, Anthony's Cross in the Lewis and Silver Medallion in the El Camino Real, might be nice colts, but they're unlikely to attract much Future Book action until they follow up Saturday's victories with more of the same.
The big winner nationally Saturday was Brethren, a half-brother to 2010 Derby winner Super Saver who toyed with the field in the $225,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs en route to a four-length victory. He might not have beaten much, but it was the way he defeated his nine rivals that made the victory so impressive.
But all is not lost out west just yet.
The talented Jaycito, winner of the Norfolk Stakes in October before a much-troubled seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile a month later, is scheduled to make his sophomore debut Feb. 20 at Santa Anita in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes. If he comes back as good as he was at 2 and shows any improvement, he's the real deal.
And there are other talented 3-year-olds on the West Coast, including Astrology, Runflatout, The Factor, Clubhouse Ride and Indian Winter, to name a few. There is still enough time for one or more of them to step forward, but it's getting to the point now where it's time for the true contenders to separate themselves from the pretenders.
Two of those colts might be Anthony's Cross and Silver Medallion, but color me skeptical until I see more. Also, don't totally write off Tapizar and Comma to the Top off one poor start, especially with how unpredictable these 3-year-olds can be early in the year.
by Art Wilson
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