Uncle Mo scratched from race, Kentucky Derby wide open
By Beth Harris May 6, 2011 10:10PM
Trainer Todd Pletcher (above) watches a workout Friday at Churchill Downs. | Charlie Riedel~AP
The derby field
The facts: 5:24 p.m. today, Churchill Downs, Louisville, Ky., Ch. 5.
Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1. Archarcharch Court Fires 10-1
2. Brilliant Speed Rosario Albertrani 30-1
3. Twice the Appeal Borel Bonde 20-1
4. Stay Thirsty Dominguez Pletcher 20-1
5. Decisive Moment Clark Arias 30-1
6. Comma to the Top Valenzuela Miller 30-1
7. Pants on Fire Napravnik Breen 20-1
8. Dialed In Leparoux Zito 4-1
9. Derby Kitten Castellano Maker 30-1
10. Twinspired Smith Maker 30-1
11. Master of Hounds Gomez O’Brien 30-1
12. Santiva Bridgmohan Kenneally 30-1
13. Mucho Macho Man Maragh Ritvo 12-1
14. Shackleford Castanon Romans 12-1
15. Midnight Interlude Espinoza Baffert 10-1
16. Animal Kingdom Albarado Motion 30-1
17. Soldat Garcia McLaughlin 12-1
18. Uncle Mo (scratched) Velazquez Pletcher 9-2
19. Nehro Nakatani Asmussen 6-1
20. Watch Me Go Bejarano O’Connell 50-1
Weights: 126 pounds. Distance: 11/4 miles (10 furlongs). Purse: $2,196,800.
Updated: August 20, 2011 12:31AM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The pockmarked road to the Kentucky Derby claimed another victim Friday when Uncle Mo was scratched due to a mysterious stomach ailment, further dimming a race already short on star power and speed.
Uncle Mo’s defection also threw the Derby wide open.
“You’re never safe until you put that saddle on because anything can happen,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said.
Owner Mike Repole announced the decision to scratch second favorite Uncle Mo about 40 minutes before wagering opened for the 137th Derby, set for today at 5:24 p.m. The colt has been bothered by a stomach problem, but vets couldn’t find a reason for his decreased appetite, energy and poor-looking coat.
“I’m actually relieved, and now I’m really concerned and worried about Uncle Mo,” Repole said. “My hope is Uncle Mo gets healthy. He is a superstar.”
Uncle Mo’s absence reduced the already less-than-dazzling field to 19, with Dialed In as the 4-1 favorite for two time-winning trainer Nick Zito.
Already lost in one of the flukiest Triple Crown seasons in memory were Premier Pegasus, The Factor, Jaycito, To Honor and Serve and Toby’s Corner, among others.
The speed figures used to rate a horse’s past performance indicate this year’s crop of Derby contenders is lacking in zip.
“Slow, fast or in-between, as long as he gets the distance, what do we care?” Zito said. “If he does what we ask him to do, what’s the difference, really?”
Arkansas Derby winner Archarcharch posted the highest speed figure in the major Derby preps, but will have a difficult time duplicating that coming out of the troublesome No. 1 post on the inside rail.
Without Uncle Mo, Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher still have a shot at winning with Stay Thirsty.
Comma to the Top, Shackleford and Soldat figure to be among the early pacesetters. Nehro, who’s won once in five starts, will try to end trainer Steve Asmussen’s 0-for-9 skid.
Calvin Borel, who has won the Derby three times in the last four years, will try to become the first jockey to win three in a row aboard Twice the Appeal.
Meanwhile, Baffert stepped into the winner’s circle Friday after his filly Plum Pretty, ridden by Martin Garcia, held off St. John’s River to win the $1 million Kentucky Oaks.