Another busy morning for the Todd Pletcher barn at Churchill Downs was headlined by two five-furlong workouts Sunday from Mike Repole's duo of Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty in preparation for Saturday's Grade I, $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic.
Working shortly after the renovation break, Uncle Mo breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 on a fast track and recorded fractions of :12.80, :24.80, :36.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.40 under John Velazquez, who was quite impressed with the 3-year-old son of Indian Charlie.
“The key was to get a steady work, finish well and gallop out well,” Velazquez said. “He went very good and it was exactly what we wanted and what we expected.”
Uncle Mo, who missed this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) with a liver ailment, returned to top form with a narrow defeat in the King's Bishop (GI) and a dominating performance in the Kelso Handicap (GII). Pletcher was pleased with Uncle Mo's work and believes he is coming up to another big race.
“The workout was perfect,” Pletcher said. “He went nice and steady and had an excellent gallop out. We have him coming into the race as well as he can be and there isn't a horse on the grounds that looks as good as he does.”
One major question surrounding Uncle Mo is whether he will handle the 1 ¼-mile distance of the Classic, but Pletcher sees no reason last year's 2-year-old champion would struggle going longer in Saturday's race than he has before.
“He's done nothing to indicate that he can't get the distance, but until he does it you don't know for sure,” Pletcher said. “But he's coming into the race well and he's the most talented horse in the field coming into the race.”
Working shortly after Uncle Mo was Stay Thirsty, who worked in company with Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (GI) hopeful Rule. Under Javier Castellano, Stay Thirsty breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 and recorded fractions of :24.20, :35.80 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.20.
“I thought Stay Thirsty also went very well,” Pletcher said. “He went a little bit faster than Uncle Mo, but I thought they both looked excellent.”
Castellano, who rode Stay Thirsty to victory in Jim Dandy (GII) and Travers (GI) at Saratoga this summer, was pleased with the work.
“It was a very good, consistent work,” Castellano said. “He handled the track really well and pulled me the whole way.”
Rule, who started two lengths in front of Stay Thirsty, was credited with a five-furlong time of 1:01.20.
“His (Rule) work was OK,” Pletcher said. “As some horses mature they begin to know the difference between the mornings and the afternoons and he's getting wise to it. So, the work wasn't exceptional.”
The first Breeders' Cup horse to work for Pletcher on Sunday was Dogwood Stable's Aikenite, who worked in company with Shared Heart prior to the renovation break. Aikenite and Shared Heart started even and finished even through a four-furlong breeze in :47.80 and recorded fractions of :12.20, :23.80, :35.80 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.
Aikenite is pre-entered in the Dirt Mile and the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (GI), with first preference in the Sprint.
The final Breeders' Cup hopefuls to work from the Pletcher barn Sunday were WinStar Farm and Rubio B. Stable's Sidney's Candy and Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor's Finale, who breezed four furlongs on a firm Matt Winn Turf Course.
Sidney's Candy, who will enter the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (GI), started and finished a length ahead of Finale (GII Juvenile Turf) and both were credited with a time of :49.80. The two recorded fractions of :13.60, :26.80 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.20.
“Sidney's Candy worked exceptionally well,” Pletcher said. “He handled the course well and finished well. He's coming into the race great, very settled and relaxed.
“Finale worked great and went very well for a 2-year-old working with a horse like Sidney's Candy.”
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