Owner Mike Repole and his two colts made sporting efforts—strike that—efforts. Certainly the most disappointing effort was Stay Thirsty’s over Uncle Mo’s. My goodness, who is the Champion Three-Year-Old? Seems like Royal Delta should be cross-entered.
As I’ve been reading the comments from folks about the retirement of Uncle Mo, it strikes me as a bit sad. He was a wildly talented two-year-old and three-year-old (one turn) and electrified racetracks. Can’t say that about Union Rags. But at three, he got sick. We see this time and time again in athletics. So much hope becomes bottled up in the potential of one special athlete, but through the rigors of sport and the indomitable force of bad luck, potential is rarely realized.
The Washington Nationals drafted Stephen Strasburg only to see his arm burn out faster than Cheech and Chong. The list of quarterback busts taken on the promise they showed as “juveniles” could fill Gatorade cooler with shame. JaMarcus Russell, Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf and Tim Couch.
Sometimes athletes performed terribly, other times they just flat out got sick.
“The decision to retire Uncle Mo was made Sunday after blood tests showed that one of his enzymes, gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), was elevated,”Repole told Daily Racing Form. “This is the same enzyme that was elevated in the spring – knocking Uncle Mo out of the Triple Crown series – and led to the diagnosis of the liver disease, cholangiohepatitis. Uncle Mo does not have a recurrence of that disease, but the GGT level was the highest it’s been since the colt returned to trainer Todd Pletcher’s care in July A normal GGT level is under 35, Uncle Mo’s was “significantly higher” following the Classic.
“We don’t want to continue down this road where he’s going to get ill again,” Repole said Monday morning. “The vets did say that the stress and rigors of training could always bring about this elevated GGT.”
Uncle Mo was a bad bet and guaranteed off-the-board in the Classic, but his presence in the race felt right. Uncle Mo in the Dirt Mile would be like Dustin Hoffman taking a gig in a horse racing mini-series. Mo’s luck ran out, and now we wait to see what kind of milers and sprinters he’ll sire out of the decreasing foal populations of tomorrow.
Mo spilled his guts and came home looking like a three-legged giraffe juggling on a stalled motorcycle. He looked almost as bad as Churchill Downs stewards.
It’s time to Occupy Churchill Downs. Next thing you know they’ll be able to fill the gate with botched calls. They’ve already got Life At Ten, now add Goldikova to the list.
Her jockey Olivier Peslier nearly decapitated Courageous Cat and jockey Patrick Valenzuela with a move down the homestretch in the Mile. Less people were monetarily harmed by keeping Goldikova in third instead of last since it would’ve been foolish (betting-wise), on paper, to have her off the board. But there are those who may have thought, well, what if she doesn’t get the running room she needs off the fence? Could mean a big pay out. And that’s what should have happened. The stewards looked like the minions in “Despicable Me” plugging away in their crow’s nest.
Life At Ten? Goldikova? Time to go prospecting for a life in California.
Brendan O'Meara is the author of "Six Weeks in Saratoga." Follow him on Twitter.