Champion and early Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie), an easy and impressive winner of his 2011 debut in Saturday's Timely Writer S. at Gulfstream Park, will most likely prepare for the 137th Run for the Roses in the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct on April 9, trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday morning.
Owned by Mike Repole, the three-year-old colt scored his fourth win in as many starts when posting a 3 3/4-length victory in the Timely Writer, covering the mile in 1:36 2/5 in his first race since taking the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) by 4 3/4 lengths on November 6.
"He came out of the race yesterday very well," Pletcher said from his barn at Palm Meadows Training Center. "The plan all along has been to go to the Wood; I don't think anything has changed out of that."
Purchased for $220,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Uncle Mo made a sensational debut at Saratoga on August 28, breaking his maiden by 14 1/4 lengths, then won the Champagne S. (G1) at Belmont Park on October 9 en route to his Breeders' Cup victory and the Eclipse Award as the nation's top two-year-old colt.
"One thing I will say, I'm not going to micromanage a five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer," said Repole, who also owns Gotham S. (G3) winner Stay Thirsty (Bernardini). "If Todd tells me we're going to the Wood, Florida Derby (G1), Louisiana Derby (G2) or Arkansas Derby (G1), that's where we'll go. Right now he's saying Uncle Mo is going to the Wood, and Stay Thirsty is going to the Florida Derby, and that's the way things are working out. If they stay healthy, 99.99 percent that's the plan." (Photo Courtesy of Adam Coglianese Photography)
The 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial is New York's final major prep for the May 7 Derby and has long been a springboard to success at Churchill Downs. Beginning with Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox in 1930, 11 Wood winners have gone on to take the Run for the Roses, among them Triple Crown heroes Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946) and Seattle Slew (1977).