So you hear the one about the Kentucky Derby favorite who lost the Wood Memorial? I’m starting to think that the Wood might be the frogurt in a Simpsons Tree House of Horror episode: cursed.

Bellamy Road? Eskendereya? Tale of Ekati? Nobiz Like Shobiz?

Uncle Mo’s irritable bowel syndrome may have gotten the best of him. The spit box may want to test him for Taco Bell— a legal performance de-hancing drug. Trust me, nothing about a Grilled Stuft Burrito will get you ready for anything short of a marathon session on the porcelain. This guy knows what I’m talking about.
Should we be surprised that Uncle Mo was flatter than the earth circa 1400? And we need to stop thinking that just because Secretariat had an abscess in his mouth in 1973 that Uncle Mo 38 years later with little to no racing experience in his three-year-old year will have a legitimate shot at winning the roses.

Maybe his GI tract infection is the equivalent of running a marathon with Montezuma’s Revenge. But then again given all of trainer Todd Pletcher’s Hall of Fame accolades, could it be that this is one of his worst training jobs? THE worst? That he got the yips?

Uncle Mo has only two races as a three-year-old, one if you discredit that Timely Writer thing. Say what you will, these horses need experience. The trend of late is to race them less and less. Part of that is freshness, part of that is care, part of that is caution, and much of that is the Kid Glove Trend.

Uncle Mo’s two-year-old season was smashing, everything from his maiden victory to the Breeders’ Cup. All he had to do was stay sound since his spot for May 7 was already reserved. But what good is that? Eventually you have to take the Porche out of the garage. When they finally did they realized that the spark plugs were shot with only three weeks to go.

Alas, here is the publicity engine choo-chooing like Jess Jackson. At least we know that Mo won’t run unless he’s 100 percent.

“I am relieved that the vets were able to find a reason why we got a disappointing performance from Uncle Mo in the Wood Memorial,” said owner Mike Repole in a statement. “I, like all racing fans hope that Uncle Mo will be 100% on May 7th and in the starting gate at Churchill Downs. Though it has been a lifelong dream to run and win the Kentucky Derby, if Uncle Mo is not 100%, we will skip the Derby and go right to the Preakness. I have the utmost confidence in Todd, his staff and Mo’s team of veterinarians. We all appreciate everyone’s concern and care for this wonderfully gifted champion.”

Sounds like Jackson set a good precedent.

Even Pletcher has been dragged into the press release gamut ala Steve Asmussen, something Pletcher’s never done. Could’ve used something like this during the Life At Ten fiasco.

“Although it is not my standard practice to share a horse’s examination results with anyone other than the owner,” said Pletcher in a statement, “I feel that Uncle Mo’s disappointing performance in the Wood Memorial warrants an explanation. After his three extremely impressive starts as a two-year-old and his dominant performance in the Timely Writer S. in March, the Wood Memorial was an uncharacteristically poor effort. On Tuesday, we did a number of tests and pulled some blood work ... He will ship to Churchill Downs on April 18th and will have two works before May 7th. If I do not feel that Uncle Mo is 100% for the Kentucky Derby, both Mike and I agree that he will not run. My main focus is to return Uncle Mo to optimum health in the next 23 days, and I am optimistic that we can accomplish this goal.”

What are we to make of all this? It’s horse racing. How about that late Pick 4 at Keeneland today?

Brendan O’Meara is the author of the forthcoming book Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year to be published by SUNY Press. You can read more at The Blog Itself and follow Brendan’s Twitter feed. He is also the "Bourbon Underground" writer for Kentucky Confidential for this year's Kentucky Derby. His web site is