Friday, May 6, 2011

Is the Kentucky Derby that important?

Amid a very busy work day, I noticed an email alert from the Daily Racing Form that Uncle Mo has been scratched from Saturday's Kentucky Derby (gee, what a surprise) and wanted to vent for a second about the apparent desperation of the connections to get this horse into the field of 20 and how such actions not only took away a spot for a healthier horse, but detract from the sport.

By all accounts, anyone following the Derby trail knew that industry experts have long observed that Uncle Mo's weight was down; sure enough, Mo has gastrointestinal issues, but did we really need to wait until Oaks Day to gain confirmation?

From a handicapping perspective, Uncle Mo was a throwout for me considering that the Wood Memorial effort was anything but the dominant horse in the 2010 Breeders Cup Juvenile (plus, it is pretty well know that front-runners typically do not win at the mile-and-a-quarter).  I suppose I should be disappointed that there is one less horse taking other peoples' money, but on the other hand, I have to question what Uncle Mo's connections were thinking (outside of Kentucky Derby glory) and cannot buy into any attempted spin that we should, perhaps, be disappointed in the sadness of the connections that their horse cannot run for the roses.

Was it prudent to send the horse to Churchill to roll the dice that he would be sound for the Derby? Even if Uncle Mo trained decently, was that enough to merit risking the horse's longer-term health? In light of the Life At Ten incident in the 2010 Breeder Cup, should we question whether trainer Todd Pletcher should have sat this horse on the sidelines, maybe for a later opportunity when he horse is more fit?  In the grand scheme of thoroughbred racing, these are logical questions surrounding the most-watched (and, for many, maybe the only-watched) race in America.

Were I ever blessed to afford Grade 1 horse ownership and one with the talent of an Uncle Mo, I certainly would prefer a longer-term approach to the horse's prospects for victory and health and not push for the one-hit wonder, Kentucky Derby or not.  Then again, my perspective slants toward the health of the horse and the growth of the sport, not to the breeding shed like so many Derby hopefuls.

Ah, but it's back to work for me.

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