The connections of Uncle Mo believe they have a reason why their horse did not run up to expectations in last weekend's $1 million Wood Memorial, and are still hoping to get last year's 2-year-old champion to the Kentucky Derby on May 7.
After undergoing a battery of tests on Monday, veterinarians concluded that Uncle Mo had a gastrointestinal tract infection, according to a press release issued Thursday morning by owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher.
"The vets also concluded that Uncle Mo is perfectly capable of returning to full training while the treatment continues," Pletcher said in the release. "He will ship to Churchill Downs on April 18th and will have two works before May 7th. If I do not feel that Uncle Mo is 100 percent for the Kentucky Derby, both Mike and I agree that he will not run. My main focus is to return Uncle Mo to optimum health in the next 23 days, and I am optimistic that we can accomplish this goal."
Said Repole: "I am relieved that the vets were able to find a reason why we got a disappointing performance from Uncle Mo in the Wood Memorial. I, like all racing fans, hope that Uncle Mo will be 100 percent on May 7th and in the starting gate at Churchill Downs. Though it has been a lifelong dream to run and win the Kentucky Derby, if Uncle Mo is not 100 percent, we will skip the Derby and go right to the Preakness. I have the utmost confidence in Todd, his staff and Mo's team of veterinarians. We all appreciate everyone's concern and care for this wonderfully gifted champion."
Uncle Mo, who won his first four career starts including the Grade 1 Champagne and Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year, suffered his first defeat when he could not accelerate in the stretch of the Wood Memorial and finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Toby's Corner. Uncle Mo stepped on himself in that race, tearing off a piece of his left front foot, but Pletcher does not believe that had any bearing on Uncle Mo's performance in the Wood.
Uncle Mo returned to the track on Wednesday for a jog and he jogged one lap around Belmont Park's training track again on Thursday, accompanied by a stable pony.