The word was out early on Repole Stable's UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie), to whom bettors took an immediate liking when he first set foot on the racetrack on Travers Day at Saratoga. Many others have since taken a strong liking to the Todd Pletcher-trained bay, who thoroughly dominated his peers with three wins in as many starts and was named champion two-year-old male at Monday night's Eclipse Awards ceremony at the Fountainbleau Miami Beach in Miami Beach, Florida.
It was the shortest campaign by a champion in this division since Action This Day in 2003, and the shortest by an undefeated divisional champ since Seattle Slew swept three races in the fall of 1976.
A colt with a high cruising speed, Uncle Mo set out on his journey in front of a savvy Travers Day audience at Saratoga in a six-furlong maiden special weight over six furlongs. While the track might have tilted toward early speed, the 4-5 Uncle Mo left an impression he would have been hard to beat, bias or no bias, by demolishing his rivals by 14 1/4 lengths under a hand ride by full-time partner John Velazquez. Arguably the most impressive performance of the entire Spa session by a juvenile, Pletcher soon announced Uncle Mo would have just one prep before the Breeders' Cup.
That next outing came in the October 9 Champagne S. (G1) at Belmont Park, where Uncle Mo started at 1-5 against five rivals. Forced to set fractions of :22 2/5 and :45 4/5 in the one-mile contest, Uncle Mo switched to another gear in the stretch and opened up with authority to win by 4 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:34 2/5, ironically tying the winning time achieved by Seattle Slew 34 years earlier. Only Devil's Bag, who won in 1:34 1/5 in 1983, has ever run a faster raw time in a one-mile edition of the Champagne.
The best two-year-olds throughout the country converged on Churchill Downs for the November 6 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) over 1 1/16 miles, and Uncle Mo's growing reputation preceded him to Louisville. Despite having to face the likes of undefeated Hopeful S. (G1) winner Boys at Tosconova (Officer), as well as the West Coast's leading juvenile prospects, Uncle Mo went to post as a strong 7-5 choice in the field of 10.
Showing an ability to rate for the first time, Uncle Mo traveled smoothly in second as longshot Riveting Reason (Fusaichi Pegasus) drew off by as much as two lengths through the opening half-mile. Uncle Mo began to apply pressure around the far turn and swiftly moved past that rival at the top of the stretch, then braced for the bid of the oncoming Boys at Tosconova. However, that rival could only offer a middling challenge as Uncle Mo quickly extended his lead and proved much the best by 4 1/4 lengths in his two-turn debut. The victory pushed his seasonal earnings to $1,296,000.
Uncle Mo, who is wintering at Pletcher's Palm Meadows base in Florida, is expected to have two preps leading up to the May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1), with the March 12 Tampa Bay Derby (G3) and April 9 Wood Memorial S. (G1) at Aqueduct the most logical stops if all goes according to plan.
Bred in Kentucky by D. Michael Cavey, Uncle Mo passed through the sales ring twice, bringing $160,000 as a Keeneland November weanling and $220,000 when going in the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He is the third registered foal out of the multiple stakes-placed Playa Maya (Arch), whose dam is a half-sister to Grade 3 scorer Woods of Windsor (Woodman). This female family has also produced the likes of Argentinean Group 1 winner Eithan (Polish Numbers) and Group 3-placed Impetious (Inchinor [GB]).
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