Heralded Uncle Mo fades in Wood Memorial upset

SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 2011

The sight of Uncle Mo being passed by not one, but two horses in the stretch of the Wood Memorial silenced the hundreds of fans gathered at the rail at Aqueduct ready to cheer him on to another victory.

Uncle Mo inexplicably failed to produce his usual race-ending burst of speed, though, and finished third Saturday behind Toby’s Corner and Arthur’s Tale in one of the biggest upsets in the 87-year history of the Grade 1 Wood at New York.

“I’m as depressed now as I am after (losing) a $25,000 claimer,” Uncle Mo’s owner Mike Repole said. “That’s why you have to run the races, whether you are 1-9 or 9-1, or whatever the winner was. … The horse didn’t fire today.”

Secretariat’s loss to stablemate Angle Light in 1973 is considered the biggest upset in Wood history, but this one is pretty close after all the prerace buildup centering on Uncle Mo.

Repole said he watched the movie “Secretariat” on Friday night.

“It was probably a stupid idea,” he said. “Maybe he has an abscess on his tooth (like Secretariat). I’m going to check it later.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won last year’s Derby with Super Saver, said he was more disappointed then shocked.

“I was a little concerned turning for home at the 3-16th pole when he didn’t really kick clear,” Pletcher said. “I thought then that we were going to be in for a fight. You could see the last 50-60 yards he was tired.”

Uncle Mo won his first four races by a combined 27 lengths, but now the Kentucky Derby in four weeks likely will have a new favorite.

Midnight Interlude won the Santa Anita Derby at Arcadia, Calif., giving Bob Baffert another Kentucky Derby contender after his other horse was scratched because of a foot injury.

Midnight Interlude rallied in the stretch under Victor Espinoza to beat Comma to the Top by a head in the $1 million race, the West’s biggest prep for the May 7 Kentucky Derby.

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