Uncle Mo Will Not Run in Derby

Churchill Downs officials said May 6 that Uncle Mo has been scratched out of the 2011 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, taking place May 7 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

The status of the 2010 champion 2-year-old colt has been in question due to ongoing internal health issues. Mike Repole, who owns Uncle Mo and Derby entrant Stay Thirsty (both trained by Todd Pletcher), said the horse has been bothered by a gastrointestinal tract infection diagnosed after the son of Indian Charlie finished third in the April 9 Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial Stakes, his first career loss.

Repole said May 5 that veterinary tests taken on Uncle Mo earlier in the day would be analyzed by three veterinarians, and a decision on his Derby status would be determined after consultation with the owner and Pletcher.

Repole explained the three veterinarians who had been treating Uncle Mo (the team headed by Doug Byars, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, director of the medicine clinic at Hagyard-Davidson-McGee equine practice in Lexington, Ky.) hadn't said the horse could not run, but that Pletcher made the final recommendation not to put the horse in the 1 1/4 mile Derby considering the questions about his health.

Pletcher and Repole said the horse is physically sound but that his internal problems have not been definitively diagnosed. Pletcher said the colt's health improved when he was on medications, but he regressed when vets began to withdraw medications.

"One enzyme that is elevated has everyone baffled," said Pletcher, noting that the elevated enzyme level usually leads veterinarians to look at other aspects of the blood tests to determine what might be wrong.

"It is very, very disappointing," Pletcher said.

Pletcher said the signs indicating Uncle Mo has an internal problem include depressed appetite, weight loss, and that his coat did not appear as usual.

The defection of Uncle Mo means that three years in a row one of the Derby favorites has been withdrawn prior to the race. Two years ago morning-line favorite I Want Revenge was scratched on race day after a filling was discovered in his right front fetlock. Further tests revealed ligament damage in the area.

Last year, early Derby favorite Eskendereya was withdrawn from the Kentucky Derby six days before the race after a filling was discovered in his left front leg, spanning from his fetlock to his knee. The injury proved career-ending for Eskendereya.

About the Author

Ron Mitchell/The Horse

Ron Mitchell is Online Managing Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine. A Lexington native, Mitchell joined The Blood-Horse after serving in editorial capacities with The Thoroughbred Record and Thoroughbred Times, specializing in business and auction aspects of the industry, and was editor-in-chief of the award-winning Horsemen’s Journal. As online managing editor, Mitchell works closely with The Blood-Horse news editor and other departments to make sure the website content is the most thorough and accurate source for all Thoroughbred news, results, videos, and data.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More