Unbeaten in two starts, Uncle Mo has emerged as a leading contender for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile next month at Churchill Downs. John Velazquez was aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher as Uncle Mo led all the way. The time was 1:34.51 for the mile.
"The sky's the limit," Pletcher said. "I don't see how a horse could start a career more impressively than he has. His times have been exceptionally fast; he gets stronger as he goes along. The Breeders' Cup Juvenile would be the obvious goal."
Gio Ponti cinches BC spot
Dual Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti, trained by Christophe Clement, secured a spot in the Breeders' Cup, winning the $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, the champion gained control late under jockey Ramon Dominguez to beat Society's Chairman by a length.
One race earlier, J.B.'s Thunder led a well-matched field of 11 juveniles nearly gate to wire in the $400,000 Dixiana Breeders' Futurity, but is only "50-50" to make the Breeders' Cup despite his automatic berth, according to trainer Al Stall Jr. J.B.'s Thunder ($13.60), ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, covered 11/16 miles in 1:44.12.
Also at Keeneland, Juddmonte Farms' Proviso earned a spot in the Breeders' Cup Mile, beating C.S. Silk by a half-length in the $400,000 Abu Dhabi First Lady Stakes. Proviso ($4.60), trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Mike Smith, ran a mile in 1:34.81.
West Coast preps
Smiling Tiger ($9.20), trained by Jeff Bonde and ridden by Russell Baze, held off Supreme Summit by a half length in the $250,000 Ancient Title at Hollywood Park, a prep for the Breeders' Cup Sprint next month. Smiling Tiger covered 6 furlongs in 1:09.37. Earlier on the Oak Tree at Hollywood card, Liberian Freighter, at 22-1, nosed out Colgan's Chip in the Grade II Oak Tree Mile on turf.
Etched rules on Jersey Shore
Etched ($16.20) held off favored Musket Man by a neck in the $300,000 Monmouth Cup at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and ridden by Eddie Castro, the 5-year-old horse covered 11/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.31. Etched has seven victories in nine starts.- AP