Here's an artist's rendition I just happen to have of Uncle Mo's gastrointestinal tract when it was pink and perfect, just before he won the Juvenile last year.
Now, with the news that the juvenile champ is (was? is and was?) suffering from a gastrointestinal infection, I imagine it must be a miserable twisted mess. Kinda like this.
This reader is absolutely right. I think I'm pretty agile with the Racing Form; but I don't know sh-- (oh, my mom's reading)...the first thing about equine gastrointestinal tract infections, how they might affect a horse's performance, whether they can be treated with a little Tums or require powerful antibiotics that can sap a horse's energy and spirit, or how long it would take to recover. And, in any event, we don't really know if he had one, or has one, or at what stage it is, or was, whether it's just a little tummy ache or a full-blown case of colic, whatever exactly that is, I really don't know. I mean, I just bet on these animals, and I assume that they're in a reasonable state of good health when I do so, otherwise they wouldn't be running. Right?
So, when Mike Repole, a respected businessman turned horseman, tells us quite definitively that this indeed explains why the horse ran like crap (no pun intended) in the Wood; and a five-time Eclipse Award winning trainer says that "The vets also concluded that Uncle Mo is perfectly capable of returning to full training while the treatment continues," who am I to question it, even if that sounds like it was written by Uncle Mo's publicist.
Of course and unfortunately, Pletcher has a bit of a credibility problem these days after expressing no qualms to Jay Privman about Life At Ten's readiness for the Breeders Cup with around ten minutes to post, until the reporter later hunted him down after his jockey told a national TV audience otherwise. I like the Toddster, but it only takes one such incident to forever tarnish a reputation, whether it's Colin Powell's photos of mobile chemical weapon labs in Iraq, Mark McGwire taking the Fifth (a more applicable example in this case than Barry Bonds, who has been living a lie for the better part of a decade), or
Bill Clinton not having sexual relations with that woman (well, I guess some people can recover).
So I did a little research on the internet about the equine gastrointestinal tract, but didn't really find much written that was understandable to the layman, or that I had the patience to digest (sorry). But I did find this, which made me think about renouncing the game altogether and joining PETA.
In the wild, horses have little to do but eat, stay out of the way of predators, and procreate. This means they range across the countryside, selecting immature forages that are easy to digest. They graze as they roam, consuming small amounts of food throughout the day and even at night. Under this scenario, there are few digestive problems.No wonder his stomach is all f--- (damn!)...messed up.
However, man has altered Nature's scheme. First, he often adds workloads that require more than just grass to provide the necessary nutrition. Second, in many cases, all choices have been taken from the horse. He no longer roams at will, picking out choice spots for grazing. Instead, he is confined to pastures or paddocks where there might be little to choose from in the way of food. He eats what is there or is provided by his caretakers.
Because his owners or caretakers often have busy schedules, the horse no longer is able to eat small amounts frequently. Instead, he usually is fed a large quantity of food, and that sometimes occurs only once each day.
What all this adds up to is an assault on the horse's digestive system that it typically can't handle, and problems such as colic and founder can be the result. [Riverside Recreational Trails (which I hope doesn't depend on financing from the state of California)]
While the headline in the original story in the Form that was posted here earlier said that Uncle Mo was still headed to Kentucky Derby, later reports frame the matter in a far more questionable light.
Personally, I have a little mixed feelings here. On one hand, man, I'm still dying to bet against this horse in the Derby, especially if the public is going to buy this story, whether it has any real validity or not. However, I think that Mike Repole would be doing the sport, and probably the horse (as little as I might know about exactly what's ailing him), a big favor by putting his understandable Derby aspirations aside and putting an end to this fiasco right now. Tell us that the horse is being pointed for the Preakness, please. We don't need to spend the next three weeks having this kind of uncertainty dominating the Derby news. Heaven forbid anything would happen to him in the course of training for, or running in the race, the industry, still not quite recovered from Eight Belles, would be sent reeling.
And of course, it's just not fair to the betting public. We're not going to be privy to the details of the vet reports (not that many of us would understand it anyway), we won't see pictures of his colonoscopy; we'll only be told "the horse is doing fine" by the trainer with the credibility problem, and we'll be left merely guessing about the biggest race of the year. And, if we are told he's OK and he runs poorly for whatever reason, we, and the many thousands of people who make this race their once-a-year racing and betting event, will think that this sport and everyone in it is just plain full of shit. (Sorry mom.)