Uncle Mo Arrives At Churchill
Uncle Mo, Mucho Macho Man arrive at Churchill
UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie), the strong favorite for the Kentucky Derby (G1) prior to his surprising loss in the Wood Memorial S. (G1), and MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno), winner of the Risen Star S. (G2) at Fair Grounds, are settling in at Churchill Downs following separate arrivals on the grounds of the historic track on Monday morning.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Uncle Mo was led off a van by assistant trainer Michael McCarthy shortly before noon (EDT), returning to the scene of his victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) that capped an unbeaten season and sewed up Eclipse Award honors as champion two-year-old male. He was accompanied on the flight from New York stablemate R HEAT LIGHTNING (Trippi), the likely favorite in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) following emphatic victories in the Gulfstream Oaks (G2) and Davona Dale S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
The plane carrying the Pletcher stars arrived some two hours behind schedule because the flight was diverted shortly after takeoff to Dulles International Airport near Washington D.C. because of reported concern over a warning light that flashed on shortly after the H.E. Sutton Forwarding Company plane became airborne.
'Representatives from Tex Sutton had called and said there was a slight hiccup -- something mechanical or some sort of a warning light,' McCarthy said. 'The horses are here, everybody's bedded down and everybody's fine. We'll take it with a grain of salt.'
McCarthy said Uncle Mo would gallop over the Churchill Downs surface on Tuesday and two works are planned for the colt before the Derby. Pletcher is expected to be on hand at Churchill Downs on Tuesday.
'The horse is in good order right now,' McCarthy said. 'We'll go ahead and gallop tomorrow. We've got two and a half weeks.'
Uncle Mo joins stablemate STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini), the Gotham S. (G3) winner, among five Kentucky Derby contenders now on the grounds and those horses will bid to give Pletcher his second consecutive victory in the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher picked up his first Derby victory last year with Super Saver.
A win in the Kentucky Oaks by R Heat Lightning would be Pletcher's third, following earlier victories by champion fillies Ashado (2004) and Rags to Riches (2007).
Mucho Man Man arrived at Churchill Downs much earlier following a van ride from Gulfstream. The van carrying the imposing bay entered the stable gate around 2:30 a.m.
It is the first stop at Churchill Downs both for Mucho Macho Man and his 41-year-old trainer, Kathy Ritvo, who is bidding to become the first woman to train a Kentucky Derby winner. The mother of two is also a heart transplant recipient, and because of the latter experience is doing to her best to enjoy every second of her visit. She arrived Sunday afternoon and took a side trip to Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, then made an early morning stop at Churchill Downs to gaze upon the illuminated Twin Spires against the night sky.
'It was beautiful -- I tried to take pictures,' Ritvo said. 'It was great. For me, it's hard to believe that I'm here (at work) every day. I'm healthy and it was a long road. I think it's amazing. I'm living a dream.'
And the preparation of Mucho Macho Man comes very close to meeting that same description. He turned in a strong seven-furlong work at Gulfstream Park on Saturday morning and has trained very well since a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds after losing a shoe early in the race.
'He's doing super,' she said. 'He's very consistent. He gives it his all every day. He has a great attitude -- just great energy.'
Mucho Macho Man has a career record of 8-2-3-2 with earnings of $410,643. He has $370,000 in graded stakes earnings and is assured a spot in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field if all continues to go well.
Arkansas Derby (G1) winner ARCHARCHARCH (Arch) is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs early Tuesday morning, according to trainer Jinks Fires. The colt will travel overnight by van and Fires said he should arrive at Churchill Downs around 7 a.m.
A plane flight from Arkansas on Tuesday morning will bring Arkansas Derby runner-up NEHRO (Mineshaft) and THE FACTOR (War Front), the beaten favorite in that race, to Churchill Downs. Other Arkansas Derby runners expected on that flight are third-place finisher DANCE CITY (City Zip) and SWAY AWAY (Afleet Alex), who finished fourth.
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