Mo-mentum grinds to a halt
NEW YORK -- A nice Aqueduct crowd of 12,144 went home disappointed when local hero Uncle Mo finished third behind Toby's Corner and Arthur's Tale in the $1 million Wood Memorial this evening. Named after a sports euphemism for "momentum" by owner Michael Repole, the Vitamin Water and Pirate's Booty gaziollionaire from Queens, Uncle Mo suddenly has none. He led a mediocre field until the top of the stretch, then failed to show his trademark explosive stride-lengthening move.
It was an interesting tableau at Aqueduct. From the paddock, you could see Repole's group of 120 friends and family, many of them in suits and blue-and-orange ties, a la the New York Mets, having commanded an entire section for themselves. To the right, the grandstand has been utterly denuded of seating, as Aqueduct is in the process of building its slot machine emporium that is supposed to pour untold millions into the coffers of NYRA.
The place just dripped of promise. Uncle Mo did not deliver on it, though.
Now, there's a level of uncertainty in the Uncle Mo camp as they contemplate his Kentucky Derby prospects.
"I think it goes without saying that if he wins by 10 today, he's going to go in there with quite a different morning line than he is now," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "That doesn't mean we aren't going to go, it doesn't mean that we are going to go. We're going to see how he comes out of it and make sure that he's physically OK. That's priority one, and then see if he trains accordingly."
"Michael Jordan used to score 50 a game, and once in awhile he'd score 15 and go 3-for-15. It's just a bad day," Repole said. "I want him to run there [Derby]. He ran a 108 Beyer and ran his best race there, he likes the track. He never ran on Aqueduct, never trained on Aqueduct, maybe he didn't like the surface. Todd Pletcher is the greatest trainer on earth, Johnny's [Velazquez] a great rider. Uncle Mo will tell us. Todd's smart enough to get the most out of Uncle Mo. We'll give him a week or 10 days, and we'll make a decision. This looks like a really bad NCAA Tournament, where the favorites seem to be getting knocked out. The good thing is the final is on May 7, not today."
"He was a little anxious more than anything else," Velazquez said. "He was in the lead, but he never really got ... he was completely under hard times, instead of being relaxed. Hopefully, he'll come back OK and we'll get him up to the Derby."