I Told You So: Uncle ‘No’ Mo
January 29th: “My two cents: a 50% chance that Uncle Mo will get injured during his prep for the Derby. He’ll only breeze 4F a few times, he’ll only race twice – and I think he comes up lame in the process. I hope not, but that is what I forsee.”
Now it’s Saturday at 6:08pm, just after the Wood Memorial debacle, and it hasn’t been announced yet that Mo is hurt, but after that performance it’s obvious the threadbare conditioning regimen failed this wonderful colt greatly, just as the same concepts did in Eskendereya roughly 365 days ago to the hour.
I was eviscerated in message boards for suggesting that Uncle Mo was anything less than our next Triple Crown champion. Noted ‘experts’ in the industry fell over themselves, acting like 12 year old schoolgirls in proclaiming Mo the next greatest thing.
Pletcher and the other supertrainers condition these horses like wild animals: soft 4F rolling breezes once a week, 2 weeks off fast works post race, 2 mile gallops 3-4x weekly, and close them up in the stall for 23+ hours a day – in the hopes they will run their eyeballs out every 5-6 weeks. This gets you your black type with one great performance, but it also gets you an injured horse quite often in the long run.
Stronger gallops at 2 minute lick pace, speedwork 2x a week, etc. – sounds funny – but more work creates stronger athletes who are less likely to get hurt. They still get hurt, but not as often. Instead Uncle Mo is treated like a weekend warrior: sits in a cubicle/stall all week, and is asked to compete on the weekends. It doesn’t work for humans and it will not work for horses.
It is our duty to protect these wonderful equine athletes from themselves, making sure their insides (bones, ligaments, lungs, muscles, etc.) are sufficiently developed to match up with their outsides (fight or flight adrenaline fueled nature). Not so for Mo, but perhaps down the line a big name trainer will make the necessary adjustments.