Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

The Very Best Leftovers: Gio Ponti, Informed Decision, Sidney’s Candy and Uncle Mo

Posted by Brian Appleton on October 9, 2010

Last weekend included one of the most incredible line-ups of grade 1 races for the entire year, all chock full of the nation’s most talented and able equine athletes. This weekend the leftovers are running, those gifted runners that, due to time schedules or some other reason, were withheld from last weekend’s extravaganza.

Of all the classy athletes taking to the track this Saturday I think one of the most exciting prospects is the much talked

about two-year-old colt Uncle Mo. Uncle has raced only one time in his entire career, a maiden race at Saratoga on August 28th that has become the most impressive maiden win of the entire year, as the colt rolled through the stretch with ease to win by 14 ¼ lengths. If he wins the Champagne Stakes (gr.1) Saturday at Belmont Park he will immediately become a favorite for the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr.1) at Churchill Downs in November. Though the 1 mile distance of the Champagne is two furlongs longer than Uncle Mo ran in his maiden debut the colt will be heavily favored to win.

Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by jockey John Valazquez, Uncle Mo will be facing 6 other competitors in the Champagne. Included in the line-up is Hopeful Stakes runner-up Stay Thirsty and Hopeful 4th place finisher Settle for Medal. Of the two only Settle for Medal is likely to run as Stay Thirsty has the same connections as Uncle Mo and is likely to be trained up to the Breeders’ Cup.

Sidney’s Candy returns for his second race on the grass in Hollywood Park’s Oak Tree Mile (gr.2) this time with a resounding turf win under his belt. It will be the 3-year-old colt’s first try against older horses but the talented sophomore is more than capable of the task. In his last start Sidney’s Candy ran his foes into the ground when setting a course record in the La Jolla Handicap (gr.2). He enters the Oak Tree Mile off a 7 week gap since his La Jolla win.

Facing Sidney’s Candy is Grade 1 winner Victors Cry who runs as the high-weight and appears to have the best chance at upsetting Sidney’s Candy. This looks like the perfect prep for Sidney’s Candy’s Breeders’ Cup Mile attempt and if all goes as expected the star 3-year-old colt will emerge from the Oak Tree Mile even better and stronger than when he entered.

Has Gio Ponti lost anything this season that he had last year? In 5 starts this year the tough-luck colt has finished second three times and has managed to win only once when taking the Man ‘O’ War Stakes (gr.1) at Belmont. For the first time in 11 of his last starts Gio Ponti will cut back in distance this Saturday to contest the $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (gr.1) at Keeneland to try and reignite his flame. There is no doubt he is still a top runner and a hugely talented colt, he just seems to be having trouble finding his best stride this year and the cut back in distance could be just what the doctor ordered for Gio Ponti.

Facing a solid field that includes Courageous Cat, Acting Zippy, Get Stormy and Enriched the 5-year-old colt will once again be favored.

Get Stormy is the obvious second choice and maybe even slight favorite as the 4-year-old runner sports an impressive record of 7 wins in his last 8 starts. He is potentially the biggest threat here and enters off consecutive victories in the Fourstardave Handicap (gr.2) and Bernard Beruch Handicap (gr.2) both at Saratoga.

Courageous Cat is the wild card in the Shadwell Turf Mile as the Canadian Turf winner enters his first race fresh, having last raced in late March.

Informed Decision attempts to become the first repeat winner of the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr.2) in 27 years and second overall this Saturday as she continues her march towards the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (gr.1) as the defending champ.

In six starts this year Informed Decision has won exactly half and enters the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes off a win in the Presque Isle Downs Master Stakes (gr.3) and it appears after a relatively rough season that the speedy gray mare is ready to come back to the fantastic form that saw her trample her Breeders’ Cup foes last year.

Grade 1 winners Dr. Zic and Hooh Why are also entered in the TCA but a more intriguing entry is the 3-year-old filly and Grade 1 Acorn Stakes winner Champagne d’Oro. She enters off a bullet five furlong work and looks ready to present a tough challenge to the older fillies and mares.

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