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Uncle Mo scratches; quotes and reaction

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Uncle Mo, the 9-2 second-choice for Saturday’s 137th Kentucky Derby, has been scratched, according to the stewards at Churchill Downs.
The connections for Uncle Mo said they would wait to see how he responded from treatment for a gastrointestinal infection before deciding on the whether to run.

“We just don’t feel the horse is right,” trainer Todd Pletcher said during a press conference. “He’s too good a horse. He’s a special horse. We’ve just got to focus on getting him right.”

Uncle Mo galloped on Friday morning but the decision was made to scratch him after Pletcher conferred with three veterinarians.

“The biggest thing I see is depressed appetite and a loss of weight and his haircoat is not right,” Pletcher said. “We ran out of time. We got something going on inside that I don’t know what it is and the best veterinarians don’t know what it is. When you don’t know what’s going on, that’s when I get scared.”

Uncle Mo won the Eclipse Award as the top 2-year-old in the nation, but suffered his first defeat in the Wood Memorial last month as the 1-10 favorite. Owner Mike Repole said this week that the son of Indian Charlie was 50-50 to run in the Derby. The field will remain with 19 horses when the gates open at 6:24 p.m. on Saturday.

“It was an easy decision for Todd and for me,” Repole said. “Right now I’m really concerned and worried about Uncle Mo.”

Also John Velazquez, who had been scheduled to ride Uncle Mo, will pick up the mount on Graham Motion-trained Animal Kingdom in place of Robby Albarado, who sustained a broken nose on Wednesday after being thrown from a horse. Velazquez, who had lost his prime Derby mounts to injuries the past three years with Quality Road, Eskendereya and Uncle Mo, is 0 of 12 in the Derby.

*** This ruins one prime betting opportunity. Uncle Mo was going to take a ton of money and he was an easy toss. Uncle Mo looked terrible all week and I really got sick of hearing Mike Repole say everyday how great the horse was moving during morning workouts. Honestly, they could have withdrawn the horse a week ago. He wasn’t right and he definitely going to be a factor. How he was the 9-2 second-choice, no one knows. But he would have gobbled up a lot of tickets. Oh well. Figured he would never make the gate anyway.

Also you’ve got to feel for jockey John Velazquez, who has endured a tough week and was featured in today’s Trib. Every year it seems his top horse gets hurt and he has to settle for a second choice. Good to Johnny V. He picked up the mount on Animal Kingdom.

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