‘Mo’ and the Pegasus
Posted by Brian Appleton on March 14, 2011
With only two starts on the schedule before a planned start in the Kentucky Derby Uncle Mo has little room for error. On Saturday March 12th Uncle Mo completed the first of two imperative moves in his Kentucky Derby prep schedule when he romped home in the Timely Writer Stakes.
In his most effortless performance to date, the Eclipse Award winning champion began his 2011 debut by making a mockery of the seriously outclassed field. Breaking from post number one Uncle Mo stumbled slightly after bumping with Gallant Dreams but settled into an easily stride within a matter of seconds, moving up to take the lead while under a firm hold. Down the backstretch Uncle Mo posted soft fractions of :25.53 and :49.58, his ears flicking forward and back as he waited patiently for jockey John Velazquez to make a move. Rounding the far turn second choice Rattlesnake Bridge moved up to race just off Uncle Mo’s flank as both colts began to edge away from the rest of the field, Uncle Mo still under a tight hold. Into the stretch Rattlesnake Bridge reached Uncle Mo’s throatlatch, the crowd going wild. For a second it appeared as though Rattlesnake Bridge would make a race of it but Uncle Mo was simply cantering, moving effortlessly under Velazquez. At the top of the stretch Velazquez finally let out a notch and freed from his strangle hold Uncle Mo exploded to a one length lead. Relishing his newfound liberty Uncle Mo continued to pull away from Rattlesnake Bridge who continued to pull away from the rest of the field. As he hit the wire 3 ¾ lengths the best, still under a tight hold, John Velazquez let out a little bit more letting the champion run out around the turn.
He didn’t beat much in the Timely Writer Stakes but he beat them in exactly the way a champion of his caliber should. He proved extremely ratable on the lead and came home his final quarter mile in a wonderful time of :22 4/5. It was one of the most adept wins I have ever witnessed but it was the way Uncle Mo ran out after the race that really impressed me. He willingly extended his stride with disdainful ease past the wire and galloped out powerfully around the turn for another 1/8 of a mile. He should have no problem with the 1 1/8 mile distance in the Wood Memorial the way he looked after the Timely Writer Stakes. One thing is for sure, he is at least as good if not better than he was in 2010. If he’s better then you can bet he’ll have his competition crying “Uncle” in no time.
Uncle Mo stole the show on the East Coast and Premier Pegasus stole the show on the West Coast when he romped to victory in the San Felipe Stakes (gr.2) by more than 7 lengths over a strong cast of 3-year-old colts.
After finishing third in his 3-year-old debut to The Factor and Sway Away in the San Vincente Stakes (gr.2) Premier Pegasus redeemed himself with the most impressive Kentucky Derby prep win of the season. Racing with blinkers off for the first time Premier Pegasus settled in 6th down the backstretch behind a suicidal pace set by Runflatout and Albergatti, with Comma to the Top a very close third. The first quarter mile went in :21.75 and the half flew by in :44.58 as the strung out field began to bunch closer together entering the turn. From last Jaycito began to make his move and undefeated Bench Points began to move from far back. Midway around the turn Comma to the Top came forward to take the lead as both Albergatti and Runflatout began to fade, quickly falling back to the rest of the field. At the same time Premier Pegasus exploded from mid-pack, blowing by horses with an eye-catching move as the field approached the top of the stretch. Coming off the turn Premier Pegasus loomed up behind Comma to the Top and swept by with ease to lead the field into the stretch. At the rail Bench Points was steadily gaining ground and Jaycito was just getting into high-gear farther back but it was all Premier Pegasus up front pouring it on as the field thundered towards the wire. He flashed under the wire 7 ¾ lengths in front of Jaycito who got up for second by 1 ½ lengths over Bench Points.
Uncle Mo was impressive, but I think it’s only fair to say that Premier Pegasus was even more impressive. With Santa Anita now back to racing on dirt after years or racing with synthetic surfaces the 3-year-old classic prep races have taken on a much more pivotal role in this year’s run for the roses. With his spectacular San Felipe win Premier Pegasus more than redeemed himself from the only loss of his career and now finds himself the leader of the West Coast sophomore division.