Friday, December 17, 2010
Uncle Mo stated his case as the top two-year-old male in the country with an emphatic 4¼-length win in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on November 6 at Churchill Downs, but another colt from Todd Pletcher’s barn showed a glimpse of tremendous potential three weeks later at the historic Louisville track.
Brethren closed from off the pace with a sweeping five-wide bid entering the stretch at Churchill on November 27. He opened a commanding two-length lead near the eighth pole and coasted to an easy score under Garrett Gomez as the 6-to-5 favorite.
He covered one mile on a track rated as fast in 1:36.78 to win by 1 3/4 lengths despite breaking from the outside post in a nine-horse field. The Churchill allowance win was his second from as many starts.
“He came out of it in excellent shape. I thought that was a big effort from him from an outside post,” Pletcher said. “He veered out a little bit at the start but was able to put himself in a good position and kicked on turning for home. All in all, I though it was a pretty impressive race.”
Brethren began his career on October 16 at Belmont Park with the high expectations that always follow a younger sibling of a classic winner. The bay colt by Distorted Humor is a half brother to 2010 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winner Super Saver, and he came through in his debut to win the six-furlong race in serious racehorse time of 1:08.88.
Pletcher said he sees some of Super Saver in Brethren. The former won the 2009 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) and the latter notched the second of his two wins on this year’s Kentucky Jockey Club undercard.
“They’re both real precocious two-year-olds that seemed to figure the game out early,” Pletcher said. “Both are intelligent colts that are very straight-forward and easy to train—a very professional kind of horses.
“Obviously, any time you have a horse come out and win his first two starts and go six furlongs at Belmont and then a mile at Churchill, it shows you that they can adapt to a lot.”
Pletcher outlined a plan for Uncle Mo after the Breeders’ Cup that would give him two prep races before the 2011 Kentucky Derby, probably tuning up for the first classic in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) in owner Mike Repole’s native New York.
He envisions a similar two-prep plan for WinStar Farm’s homebred Brethren, who is out of the winning A.P. Indy mare Supercharger, a full sister to three graded stakes winners.
“We’d like to get two preps into him, but since he’s a little more lightly raced, one less race than Uncle Mo, we might have room for a third if we felt like it was necessary,” Pletcher said. “A race like the Sam F. Davis [Stakes (G3) on February 12 at Tampa Bay Downs] might be a good starting point for him, according to how his training goes. We’ll talk to Elliott [Walden of owner WinStar Farm] and we’ll come up with a plan.”
Of course, Brethren has only taken the first steps toward showing his true potential. He has a long way to go to catch up to Super Saver and stablemate Uncle Mo, whose three wins by a combined margin of 23 1/4 lengths and powerful speed figures have led to lofty expectations.
“There have been horses who have run faster in one race than Uncle Mo.” Len Friedman, a partner with Ragozin Thoroughbred Data, said in a column Bob Ehalt wrote for THOROUGHBRED TIMES TODAY. “But in terms of all of his races at two, I’ve never seen a two-year-old with a line of [speed] figures as fast as his. It’s unheard of.”
Pletcher said it was apparent early that Uncle Mo was brimming with talent. He knew he would be in business if the Indian Charlie colt carried what he had been showing in his workouts into his debut, and Uncle Mo blistered nine challengers in a 14 1/4-length romp on August 28 at Saratoga Race Course. The scintillating score gave Pletcher the confidence to enter him in the Champagne Stakes (G1) for his second start, and he led every step of the way again en route to another dominant win.
“After his maiden race and leading into the Champagne, it’s pretty rare that you run a maiden and run them back in a Grade 1 and you’re hoping they run as well as they did in their maiden race,” Pletcher said. “His maiden race was obviously as impressive a debut as a horse can have, to run as fast as he did and the numbers that he ran.
“You know, you’re just hoping it’s not too much too soon and have any sort of physical setbacks, because he’s already proven he’s fast enough to win a Grade 1. Now, you just have to hope to keep him in condition to get it done in the afternoon again.”
Uncle Mo all but sewed up the Eclipse Award in the two-year-old male division by putting away nine top-class challengers in the Breeders’ Cup, drawing away with an explosive burst of speed under John Velazquez.
Pletcher said after the Breeders’ Cup that Uncle Mo’s performance gave him goose bumps.
“The way he puts away fields is really just jaw-dropping, it’s impressive to see a horse cruising along against a Breeders’ Cup field and then at the top of the stretch, when cued, just drop down another level and extend his stride and pull away from those horses,” Pletcher said. “It’s not something you see very often.
“What’s so great about him is that he has all this tremendous talent but yet he has intelligence to go along with it. He doesn’t need to display [his talent] every day in his gallops or display it every time you breeze him. He’s very manageable, he’s very ratable, and he’s a pretty intelligent colt that nothing seems to upset.”