What we are fairly sure of is that Uncle Mo will run on Saturday, although still not positive where - in the Tampa Bay Derby or Timely Writer at Gulfstream Park, an "overnight" stakes (assuming enough horses enter) created to fit the specs of Pletcher. When the race was originally scheduled to be run at 8.5 furlongs, there was a chance that Dialed In and Uncle Mo would have gone head to head in this ungraded race at Gulfstream. But after owner Mike Repole made the case to Gulfstream's racing secretary to shorten the race to a one-turn mile for Uncle Mo, Nick Zito looked elsewhere to get valuable two-turn experience for his son of Mineshaft, even though that meant in a small field against older horses. So even though Dialed In ran a fast closing second after spotting a dawdling pace, perhaps this could be more meaningful than anything Mo may do this weekend.
I, for one, hope Mo is on or pressing the pace and wins in a blistering time in the Timely Writer. Based on this year's early favorites running poorly (Comma to the Top, To Honor and Serve, Tapizar), not running at all (Jaycito, Astrology) or off the trail (Boys at Tosconova), a strong showing by Mo on Saturday will create a virtual walkover in the Wood Memorial and essentially put his odds at even money come the first Saturday in May. And to beat him on that day with more battle tested horses means a five figure trifecta payout!
I'm not going to release my third Top 10 list under after Mo's first appearance on the trail, but elsewhere this weekend on the left coast, Jaycito and Comma to the Top look to stay in The Derby fray in The San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the new, lightning-fast Santa Anita dirt track.
Also, next weekend's Rebel Stakes at my beloved home track of Oaklawn Park is setting up to be a doozy. The Factor, Astrology and Sway Away from California are likely to join the top five finishers from the Southwest Mile (won by ArchArchArch) and multiple Oaklawn allowance winner Alternation, the son of Distorted Humor who won on the undercard to the Southwest in a faster time. With this many horses still fighting for precious graded stakes money, an off-the-board finish in the Rebel may mean goodbye to The Derby trail (and hello to the lower rungs, like the Lone Star or West Virginia Derby).
Good luck at the betting windows this weekend! I'll publish my report from the Tampa Bay Derby next week.