Uncle Mo, Life At Ten & Keertana Work
By Dave Joseph
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Mike Repole’s undefeated 2-year-old champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Uncle Mo breezed a half-mile Sunday morning at Palm Meadows in :47.45.
One of the early favorites for the May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1), Uncle Mo galloped out five furlongs in a minute alongside stablemate and Hopeful (G1) runnerup Stay Thirsty. It was Uncle Mo’s third work of the winter, and the breeze pleased trainer Todd Pletcher.
“It was a tad quicker than we expected. We wanted him to go in :48 and change, but he did it effortlessly,” Pletcher added. “It’s amazing what a couple of works have done for his fitness level. I feel like I’m ahead of schedule. I’m particularly pleased with the way he galloped out.”
Pletcher said Uncle Mo is still on target to make his 3-year-old debut the second weekend of March.
While Uncle Mo worked Sunday morning, WinStar Farm’s undefeated Brethren, a four-length winner of Saturday’s Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa relaxed in his stall. Pletcher called the colt’s victory “excellent” but was undecided on where the 3-year-old son of Distorted Humor might run next.
“I talked to (WinStar’s racing manager) Elliott (Walden) this morning and we’re just going to let the dust settle and look at all our options,” Pletcher said.
Also working Sunday for Pletcher at Palm Meadows was the multiple Grade I-winning mare Life At Ten. The 6-year-old breezed for the first time this year with an easy three-eighths in :38.50.
When asked if the plan was to bring back the mare for her 6-year-old season after an 11th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, Pletcher replied: “I don’t know what would have happened if she won the Breeders’ Cup or ran better, but they decided to try again.”
Pletcher said he has nothing planned for Life At Ten. “I don’t know if she’d be ready for something like the (April 2) Rampart (G2) at a 1 1/8th mile,” he said. “We’ll have to play it by ear.”
Keertana Breezes over Gulfstream Course for The Very One
Barbara Hunter’s 5-year-old homebred mare Keertana ranked among the nation’s leading long-distance fillies and mares on turf last season, finishing third in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5, and got a feel for the Gulfstream Park turf course Sunday morning breezing six furlongs in 1:15 4/5 in preparation for next Sunday’s $100,000 The Very One Stakes (G3).
“She ran a huge race at Saratoga last year to win the Glens Falls going long (1 3/8 miles),” said trainer Tom Proctor later in the morning. “Then she ran the big race in the Breeders’ Cup, so she seems to like the longer races and that’s what we’ll probably be doing with her this year. I want to have a good spring with her and then maybe she gets a little break sometime in the summer and come back in the fall.”
Keertana is a daughter of 2003 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner Johar (dead-heat with High Chaparral) and was beaten only a half-length for it all by Shared Account in the 11-furlong Breeders’ Cup after winning the Glens Falls Handicap (G3) at Saratoga by 3 ¼ lengths two races before. In between she finished fourth in the 1 ¼ miles Flower Bowl Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park.
Proctor is operation three divisions this winter with strings at Santa Anita and Tampa Bay Downs in addition to Gulfstream and Keertana was recently shipped down from Tampa Bay where she made her 2011 debut finishing in a dead-heat for victory in a 1 1/16 miles turf allowance on Jan. 23 with Proctor-trained stablemate You Go West Girl, who finished fourth in Saturday’s Endeavor Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay.
Keertana will be among the favorites for the 23rd running of the 1 3/8 miles The Very One with her chief rival likely to be Swettenham Stud’s 6-year-old Irish-bred mare Changing Skies, winner of this race last year for trainer Bill Mott. The daughter of Sadler’s Wells was the wire-to-wire winner of the 12-furlong La Prevoyante Handicap (G3) last out at Calder on Jan. 2.
Also recently shipping into Gulfstream and getting ready for a stakes next weekend with a breeze over the course Sunday morning was Team Block and Thomas Fedro, Sr.’s 6-year-old gelding Free Fighter, who was timed a sharp half-mile in 47 1/5 for trainer Chris Block as he prepares to make his first start of the season in the $150,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes (G3) Saturday, the companion event to The Very One at 1 3/8 miles.
A chestnut by Out of Place, Free Fighter won the 12-furlong Louisville Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs in late May and placed in the Stars and Stripes (G3) at Arlington Park and Kentucky Cup Turf (G3) at Kentucky Downs later in the campaign. He finished second last out in the ‘off the turf’ W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2) at Calder on Dec. 18.
Free Fighter’s rivals in the Mac Diarmida are expected to include Patricia Generazio’s 8-year-old gelding Presious Passion, defending winner of the Mac Diarmida for trainer Mary Hartmann; Brous Stable and Wachtel Stable’s 5-year-old Al Khali for trainer Bill Mott; and a trio trained by Roger Attfield.
A third stakes to be run at Gulfstream next weekend will be the $100,000 Sabin Stakes (G3) for fillies and mares at one mile on the main track Saturday and a leading candidate for that race worked on the Gulfstream turf course Sunday morning with IEAH Stables and partners’ 4-year-old filly Amen Hallelujah timed a half-mile in 49 for trainer Rick Dutrow.
A daughter of Montbrook, Amen Hallelujah finished a close-up fifth in the $200,000 Sunshine Million Filly & Mare Sprint going six furlongs here on Jan. 29, beaten less than two lengths for it all in her first start since a tough loss when second by a half-length in the Acorn Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on June 5.
Amen Hallelujah won the one-mile Davona Dale Stakes (G2) here last year by 6 ¼ lengths and finished second in the Bonnie Miss Stakes (G2) behind Devil May Care before a sixth-place try behind Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Another top prospect for the Sabin worked out Sunday morning at Calder as trainer Marty Wolfson sent out Farnsworth Stable’s 5-year-old mare Toocleveforwords for an easy half-mile in 52. The daughter of Arch won her last three starts at Calder, most recently the $100,000 Stage Door Betty Handicap (G3) on Jan. 1.