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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Horse Works, Owner Rambles

Uncle Mo had his workout, and Mike Welsch, the Form's crack clocker, said that it "couldn't have been more impressive and gave every indication Uncle Mo has completely recovered from whatever problem led to his disappointing performance in the Wood."

Oh, so you mean everything is back to normal? He's a lock again?

The colt's owner, Mike Repole, took the opportunity to chide the press for spreading rumors, and scoffed at the notion that he should actually let people know exactly what's up with the horse.....even declining to confirm or deny the rumors that the horse had some kind of procedure to treat a bad leg last year.

"I never disclosed that on any of my horses. If all the other owners in the Derby disclosed the health of their horses, I'd be first in line. [NY Daily News]
“I own 82 racehorses and everybody has been talking about full disclosure. I don’t think this is something the industry really wants to get into or address. Eighty-five percent of racing is claiming races. How would you disclose what’s going on (with those horses)? These are professional athletes that run 45 miles an hour and in all honesty, if you went in anyone’s barn it’s very hard to figure out who is 100% sound.
“I hope this doesn’t sound rude, but if Todd Pletcher or one of my vets talk about the physical issues of any of my horses they would probably leave the barn, whether it’s Todd Pletcher, Bruce Brown or Dominick Galluscio. To me there is a confidentiality between a vet, a trainer, and an owner, and I will promise you I will never put a horse out there that is not safe, sound, and healthy.[Bloodhorse]
Whoa, touchy, touchy, Mike Repole. For one thing, with all his talk about not disclosing, that's exactly what he did when it was convenient for him! When he was trying to concoct an excuse for the colt's shockingly poor performance in the Wood. Now, with Uncle Mo seemingly on the road to recovery, Repole doesn't want to disclose any details about the horse's gastronomical condition that he brought up in the first place! Whatsmore, he's getting all indignant over the suggestion that people should know. So, maybe at this point, he should just shut up.

Repole actually makes some fair points about the claiming game, points that he's absolutely right in that the industry doesn't - and shouldn't - want the discussion. Indeed, the claiming game is to a significant degree about secrecy, gamesmanship, and, not only non-disclosure, but outright deception. That's part of what keeps the claiming game fluid, and, quite frankly, it's a large part of what makes it so much fun and challenging as a wagering puzzle as far as I'm concerned (if not so much fun and too challenging for any horses running when it shouldn't be).

But we're not talking about a claiming race here. So Repole has nothing to gain from deceiving rival owners and trainers (at least not on this particular day). No rival trainer is going to halter his horse nor alter his strategy because of something he/she may or may not know about Uncle Mo's condition. Uncle Mo is the juvenile champion off a spectacular (if brief) two-year old campaign, and has thus been the subject of intense scrutiny and anticipation in the weeks and months leading up to the Derby. He has been the presumptive betting favorite throughout the winter and spring, and may still very well be so at post time. Whether he is or not, millions of dollars will be riding on his fortunes. It might be nice if we had an idea what we were betting on, or against....and a little public disclosure wouldn't compromise his chances at all. But of course, in all of Repole's ramblings, I don't see where the subject of the public interest came up at all. Just his interest. I guess he's more concerned about preserving Uncle Mo's value as a racehorse and beyond than serving the fans and the betting public. Pretty typical. And we thought maybe this guy was different.

- The Factor is out. Before we got sidetracked on this other crap, Baffert's colt was seen as one who would make life difficult for Uncle Mo with his early speed. (It does however open the Derby door to Shackleford, who set some brisk fractions in the Florida Derby before getting caught by Dialed In.) Baffert disclosed - gasp! - that The Factor had throat surgery to address a propensity to displace his palette. Owner George Bolton said: "He’s basically miler pedigree that is good enough to go further." Well, then why would he have in any event considered running the horse in the Derby three weeks after his disappointing Arky Derby? "The right thing for The Factor is to wait and go either to Preakness, Met Mile, Woody Stephens or something like that.” Which it had become obvious would have been the right thing for the horse all along.


Anonymous said...

It's a real shame about Durkin. Didn't realize that behind the scenes he would be stressed out for months about calling the Derby. I guess when you really think about it, it's quite a challenge to call a 20 horse race in 2 minutes.
Durkin said his decision to not call the race this year was a "great personal decision and a terrible business decision"
Colmus or Denman you would think would be logical replacements, but they have big shoes to fill. As long as they dont give it to the guy who called the Arkansas Derby !

Anonymous said...

Denman stinks, Collmus no.

I would vote for Kurt Becker. The most underrated announcer in the country. Or Michael Wrona, if he is still alive. Or maybe Dave Rodman. He's exciting, though a bit wacky. -jp

Alan Mann said...

Vic Stauffer.

jk said...

Looks like NYRA is paying the LIRR to restore direct train service to Belmont. Great move, I will be heading out.

Jackie said...

It is a shame about Durkin he is the best around. I hope Colmus gets it, he is very good.

I'm just wondering if Uncle Mo won the Wood and was still a super star potential Triple Crown winner would Durkin have left? He knows a horse winning the Belmont for the Triple Crown would be the call of a lifetime and would go down in history, so my theory is that he was holding out to see if there was one of those superstars out there this year. Since there isn't, he chose to quit. If Mo was still undefeated my guess is Durkin is still calling this years races. Anyone else agree?

Alan Mann said...

I dunno Jackie....if he's too stressed out, then imagine how stressed he'd be if the Triple Crown was on the line? As it is, he will call the Belmont at the track, though not on NBC. I hope he can deal with that with someone wins the first two legs, otherwise we'll have John Imbriale calling it!

Susan said...

Unfortunatly, you make a good point about Mr. Repole. Though I think he is a great owner and very good for the sport, the bottom line is, there will only be "full disclosure" when the connections want to give "full disclosure". Not to mention, most owners, unless they are hands-on horsepeople,only know what their trainer and vets tell them. They don't have the expertise and experience to know the subleties, the little changes in a horse's attitude , demeanor, soundness, etc, unless they are there with the horses, day in and day out.

Anonymous said...

Bobby Nystrom should replace Durkin.

Anonymous said...

Vic Stauffer is Ok but is to much of a screamer.

Johnnie said...

I hate Vic Stauffer!

Anonymous said...

You are right Alan. It wouldn't have cost Repole anything, because the suspicions, and their (Pletcher & Repole) failure to answer the direct questions about him. It wasn't too long ago, when Repole was just a bettor, and he wanted all the information on a horse that he could get. Times have changed. He's a salesman, peddling Vitamin Water and Pirate Doodles. Hell, Mo probably got sick, eating and drinking that crap at that cockamamie Breakfast With Mo promotion before the Wood. With Repole, it's do what he says but, don't dare question him about what he does. So much for all the effort to get the public "close to" Uncle Mo, emulating the Zenyatta approach. Well Mo, you're no Zenyatta! And, your connections, can't handle the truth, because they're still really only focused on themselves.