The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Champion, the first one to win on fast dirt since Street Sense (whatever happened to Midshipman and Vale of York? Oh, that’s right. They stink.).
I follow Uncle Mo because I get to read what he types on his Twitter page (@UncleMohorse). Here’s what he said:
“Uncle Mike and Uncle Todd snt me 2 FL 2 rest. Id much rather b racing but they told me this wud b bst 4 me. Happy Thanksgiving 2 all!”
It’s an uncle threesome! Happy Thanksgiving to you, Uncle Mo!
Well, I follow Uncle Mo because, well, there ain’t nothin’ left to follow.
The older horse division this year was mighty, mighty good. The Breeders’ Cup Classic had all a fan and horse player could ask for. It had Zenyatta. She’s retired (or is she?). There’s Blame. Retired. Quality Road. Retired. Lookin’ At Lucky. Retired. And let’s not forget that Rachel Alexandra, while not in the BC Classic or in the BC altogether is, you guessed it, retired.
Remember that time Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra raced against each other? That was awesome.
I know Gio Ponti is back and, to the best of my knowledge, so too is Paddy O’Prado. But this is America, and, to paraphrase something Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito once said, “Grass is a dirty word to me.” And so too it is for racing fans.
So all we have is a couple turf horses. Doesn’t exactly inspire.
Is it 2007 all over again? That year Street Sense, Curlin, Hard Spun, and Any Given Saturday rose to the top. It turned out to be as exciting a year as any and it was because of the emergence of the three year olds. That’s where the sparks will have to come from.
Sure, in 2007 Lawyer Ron was the top of the handicap division and Zenyatta was still training for a debut race that was a long ways off.
In 2011, Boys of Tosconova will be worth keeping an eye on. He and Uncle Mo are the head of the class as of now. What that means seven months from now is a different story altogether. But at least Uncle Mo’s owner, Mike Repole, who stands to be the next darling of horse racing, is fresh and interesting.
When was the last time you saw trainer Todd Pletcher smile? It was when Repole kissed him on the cheek? When was the second to last time you saw Pletcher smile? When Repole said he was going to get “so drunk tonight” after accepting the trophy in front of the wet blanket that is Jeremy Schaap. Oh, Jeremy, please, lighten up.
Repole, for now, is worth rooting for. He’s an owner you can talk to without feeling like you need a shower afterwards. And in horse racing, that’s saying something. He’s even calling out other owners to be responsible for the life of their horses, not just their racing lives.
In a Q&A with Ray Paulick of The Paulick Report, he openly opined about the assurance that when racehorses no longer race that they are well taken care of. If Willie Mays can avoid a kill pen, so too should Kid Ziggy.
“I claimed him for $40,000 in 2005,” Repole told The Paulick Report, “and the horse was vanned off. I put him in rehab for 15 months and when he came back he won for fun. Next time out the injury reoccurred and I had to get him a home. I gave a good donation to a horse charity and found out he’s now a riding horse with some 13-year-old girl and I’m ecstatic. I’m thrilled. All of a sudden last year I get a call from someone telling me Kid Ziggy is in a kill pen. I didn’t even know what a kill pen was. I said I gave a donation to find him a good home and this person explained to me that some charities don’t have contract for life to take care of the horses. I might have donated to the wrong charity. I then had to pay $800 to get him out of the kill pen and another $5,000 to a charity to save him again.”
So I follow Uncle Mo.
Brendan O'Meara is the author of the forthcoming "Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year." It will be published by SUNY Press. You can read more about it at The Blog Itself. His web site is http://www.brendanomeara.com.