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Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Poop On Uncle Mo

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.

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)]
No wonder his stomach is all f--- (damn!)...messed up.

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.)


Anonymous said...

I love the irony of them acting like they are being forthcoming, while they are really just further muddying an already indecipherable mess.

Sport of Kings ( who said royalty was trustworthy? ).

Anonymous said...

Your best post ever...

Anonymous said...

Great Post Alan.

So the 2011 Derby has come down to one's ability to handicap...... Gastro-Intestinal Infections ?! And you thought finding the winner the last 2 years would be tough. The problem with this year's running is that the field is the most un-inspiring bunch since, well since last year. If Mo runs anything like his Juvenile triumph over Churchill he wins this thing. Forget Breeding, Distance etc, he is the fastest horse of a slow bunch. The problem of course is, looking at the form, Mo has gone backwards this year which happens to many 2yr olds that run big figs.
Barring "The Factor" having a blowout win tomorrow (I doubt he will) I think the Public will make Mo the favorite based on his overall body of work. Of course Mo offers no value at 4-1 or so come Derby Day, but do any of these other bums offer any value in the 10-1 to 20-1 range that many figure to go off in. Do the Pants on Fire and Soldat's of the world really excite you at 20-1.
Maybe 4-1 on MO against a Gastro-Intestinal infection doesn't look so bad afterall.

Of course, if all else fails, you can always look for the horse who last ran third at Turf Paradise (a la Mine That Bird ) and bet the house. As usual, it's a Crapshoot !

P_TESTER said...

A well documented side effect of massive treatments with NSAIDs is (Surprise,Surprise) gastrointestinal distress. Adds fuel to the argument that Uncle might be a leetle lame.

Anonymous said...

Naproxen for my knee and the Prilosec for my stomach because of what the naproxen does to it. Does anyone know if they give fish oil to horses?

Anonymous said...

Maybe his loss was just a case of the horse being short and the GI tract infection is an excuse for the horse not being fit enough. If he truly did have a GI tract infection serious enough to keep him from running in the Derby he wouldn't have run as well as he did in the Wood. NSAIDs cause ulcers, not infections. It is possible he suffers from unlcers but a trainer would know this (lack of appetite, weight loss)and there are medications to relieve and actually heal ulcers in horses.
I think everyone is looking for excuses where none exist. He was a precocious 2yo who hasn't progressed as a 3yo and the others have caught up to him and his pedigree suggests he isn't a 1 1/8-1 1/4 horse. My goodness, when you run 108 figs as a 2yo just how much can you improve as a 3yo with little training?

steve in nc said...

You are on a roll, Alan.

This silliness will dominate the pre-Derby news, but hell, without it, there'd just be some other silliness.

I say we just tune into ESGN (Equine Sports Gastroenterology Network), pop open a nice cold Kaopectate and enjoy. And during the commercials, we can go to Court TV for the Dutrow hearings if we really want to get nauseous.

Figless said...

He needed a tough race, he got it, and should move forward as a result. Many a Derby winner has lost their prep, in fact it is a better angle than betting the prep winners historically. As long as they hit the board they are fine.

I will not be betting him in Kentucky but it would not shock me if he won.

Figless said...

Moving on to todays action, I am going try and repeat last weeks sucess, such as it was, by tossing The Factor from the top spot as I did Mo.

Focusing today and Brethren and Nehro, with perhaps ArchArchArch and Sway Away underneath as well as Factor.

I will always forgive one race, and Brethren has enough angles going for him that I will give him a shot but likley at a much lower price than his overlaid ML 10-1.

Has trained very well since blinkers were presumably added in the morning and he certainly has a 9f pedigree and the right connections, and a rabbit to boot.

Nehro may pick up the pieces and win the whole shebang if the race falls apart.

If I am willing to forgive Brethren's last have to do the same with Sway Away, and ArchArchArch appears to be best of the locals and may sit a perfect trip behind the speed.

Again Factor and very much against Elite Alex, who I guess folks like because of his name but his pp's leave me scratching my head why?

The Wager: On top 5,2, Under 1,6,9

Rooting bigtime for Santiva and my Future Wager and considering taking a Win Pool plunge if he is more than 3-1 at post time.

But perhaps not.He does not have to win to make the gate in the Derby so may not be completly prepped for this, and this race usually favors late developing turf horses.

Of those entered I am leaning toward the far outside duo of Crimson China and QueensPlateKitten who appear to have the most class. Either could take the top prize with a late run if their pilots can navigate a course to the the inside at some point.

The Wager: Box 3,11,12 with perhaps the 8 underneath for a bit.

Good luck.

Figless said...

Here's a new excuse for Mo from the Ragozin Insider column at T Times:

"Then, a funny thing happened on the way to Louisville.

It all started, of course, with Uncle Mo, whose sheer brilliance at two has not been duplicated at three—perhaps because of a bug; perhaps because he ran a knockout number with his 1 1/4 in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1)."

Yeah that's it, he ran too fast six months ago, c'mom, thinking like that is why I remain Figless.

Anonymous said...

American lady.

ballyfager said...

At the end of the day, he's still by Indian Charlie. Not good if you're going a mile and a quarter.

Anonymous said...

American lady easy...


Indulto said...

I laughed all the way to the bathroom.

Victory would be confection for Uncle Mo’s rooting section, but if he doesn’t get to wear the roses, it will be Uncle Curly and Uncle Larry who will be giving the interviews; a thought that must repel Repole and propel Pletcher. Onward and awkward, everyone.

Anonymous said...

This Oaklawn race caller has to be the WORST caller I have witnessed in years. This guy must of had a bunch of marble's in his mouth or eating a turkey sandwich as he was calling the Oaklawn derby race.

Figless said...

Pletcher's Brethren big flop, Pletcher's rabbit beats me out of TRI and Dime Super.

Played $1 TRI box 2-5-6-9.

Irony is when Dance City was delaying the start I was begging them to get him in the gate because I wanted the rabbit in the race.

Then he beats me and just to twist the knife a little they throw a silly inquiry up.

No Factor.

So Dialed In is your Derby Favorite, good luck weaving through the 20 horse field.

If he had Borel maybe.

Nehro will be the wise guy horse if he gets in.

Anonymous said...

Time for Terry Wallace to step aside at Oaklawn and let some new blood in to announce races. His call of the Arkansas Derby was painfully bad. He sounded like a guest in the booth. Maybe he and Richard Grunder can open a liquor store together or something.

Say hi to Nehro, your 2011 Kentucky Derby winner.

Alan Mann said...

Hey Dirty, so what did you have at GP the other day with that dq, please tell?

Anonymous said...


I wasn't even being serious, and I bet a ten dollar double to 3 horses in the last (from concertos song or whoever he has, who looked like the lone speed after another horse scratched). To be honest, he wasn't even the best, but the daylight winner caused a huge pile up and had to come down.

So anyway, I'm alive to 3 horses and it's a lock in my mind. The 6/5 shot pays like 400 for 2 bucks, and the other two are around a grand for 2 bucks.

Last race comes around and some other horse is ahead by like 15 lengths in the stretch, I thought I was done. The 6/5 shot was closing fast though, and it came to a photo, which I thought I lost, but they put the numbers up and I was indeed a winner. I suppose rich was a little much, but a couple grand is always nice. (I made a hell of a lot more on fifth ave yesterday, and had a nice score on American lady today, so I'm looking forward to a tidy profit for frixking once as Santa Anita season wraps up)


Anonymous said...

BTW the story about mucho macho man is terrible.


Anonymous said...

1. The call of Yesterday's Arkansas Derby is so bad that it is amazing. You must listen to it.

2. Nehro will be the wise guy derby horse. He is a little interesting peaking at the right time for Asmussen. However, if my math is correct (and it may not be) the last eighth of the Ark Derby was run in 13 and 3. So Im not sure if Nehro was flying or everyone else was stopping.
Nehro will be one of those horses that you will look up on the board on Derby Day and say how the hell is this horse 8-1 !

3. Another meaningless Bluegrass Stakes on the Poly.

4. Who will be the bad Derby favorite come post time, Uncle Mo or Dialed In ?

Anonymous said...

Oaklawn's last race was 1 3/4 mile and the winner doesn't get a call till the last 60 yards. Horrible announcer.

El Angelo said...

Completely agree that the Arkansas Derby race call was one of the worst I've ever heard. It made Mike Battaglia sound like Durkin.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what's going on with Terry Wallace. He was never a particularly great announcer but yesterday was an all time low. Maybe he just expected The Factor would be in front and when he wasn't it messed up his timing. I'm only glad I didn't bet on that race, or the BG. What a crapshoot! -jp