Friday, November 11, 2011
At stud, Alydar was a major success producing Belmont winner Easy Goer and Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alysheba among his get. He was the leading sire in North America in 1990, sire of 10 champions and his runners earned more than $24 million. Affirmed became known more as a producer of turf runners, with perhaps his best runners being the multiple grass champion filly Flawlessly; and Arlington Million winner The Tin Man. Affirmed had similar numbers as Alydar with 9 champions, but Alydar’s stallion career ended at the peak of his productivity when he mysteriously suffered a shattered leg while in his stall and had to be euthanized.
Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo met only twice on the track, both in Breeders’ Cup races at Churchill Downs. Last year, Stay Thirsty was fifth to Uncle Mo’s victory in the Juvenile. This year Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty finished 10th and 11th respectively in the Classic. So they really didn’t have much of a rivalry on the track.
But there was a rivalry for recognition between the two, especially since both came from the same shed row of trainer Todd Pletcher and raced for outgoing owner Mike Repole. And no matter what he did, Stay Thirsty seem to ever remain in the shadow of his stable mate Uncle Mo.
Uncle Mo was everybody’s all-everything from the time he broke his maiden by 14-1/2 lengths at Saratoga through his undefeated championship season and being the winter racebook favorite to win the Kentucky Derby. Meanwhile, during his 2-year-old seaso, Stay Thirsty had finished second to Boys At Toscanova in the Hopeful Stakes after breaking also breaking his maiden at Saratoga, but only by five lengths. Stay Thirsty went into the Juvenile as an anonymous 13-to-1 shot and came out as a fifth-place whatchmacallit.
As if aware of the slight, Stay Thirsty galloped around the Saratoga oval and won the Travers nearly gate-to-wire and suddenly he was atop the 3-year-old class looking down. In his first test against older horses in the grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, Stay Thirsty was a good third behind eventual Classic winner Drosselmeyer and Classic favorite Flat Out. He looked primed to be competitive and possibly be among the favorites for the Classic.
But earlier that same day at Belmont, Uncle Mo had turned heads by winning the grade 1 Kelso Mile in only his second race after being sidelined and missing the Triple Crown. And during the weeks leading up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Uncle Mo again took the spotlight from Stay Thirsty.
Owner Mike Repole decided to run Uncle Mo in the Classic instead of the Dirt Mile and before the Classic, Uncle Mo would go off at 5-to-1 odds compared to Stay Thirsty back in double digits at 11-to-1.
Uncle Mo will have a year to get the jump on Stay Thirsty in the breeding shed, but I doubt it will make much of a difference.
Uncle Mo begins his stallion career as the grandson of In Excess (Ire), one of the top stallions in California before being pensioned in July. Stay Thirsty, who will race at age four according to his Facebook page, will begin his stallion career next year as the grandson of A.P. Indy, one of the top stallions of his generation.
Uncle Mo is by Indian Charlie, whose first runners hit the track in 2002 and who stood last year at Airdrie Stud in Midway, Kentucky for $70,000. On the track, Indian Charlie’s biggest win came in the 1-1/8 mile Santa Anita Derby. As one might expect from his racing career, Indian Charlie has had a difficult time producing any runners that could go to the next level at 1-1/4 miles.
Stay Thirsty is by Bernardini, winner of the Preakness, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup - two of which are at the classic distance of 1-1/4 miles. After his first crop hit the track this year as 3-year-olds with Stay Thirsty and To Honor and Serve among them, Bernardini’s fee has been raised to $150,000 by Darley Stud in Lexington, Kentucky.
Uncle Mo has the 2-year-old championship but in the end, Stay Thirsty has something much more important to breeders’, a grade 1 win at 10 furlongs (1-1/4 miles). In fact, Uncle Mo never won at 1-1/8 miles, finishing third in the Wood Memorial in his only attempt at that distance. Stay Thirsty won the 9 furlong Jim Dandy and 1-1/4 mile Travers.
Americans are known to breed for speed and Uncle Mo is well armed with pedigree and past performances to produce that in his runners.
But Americans still pay for distance. And Stay Thirsty will be much more likely to produce winners who can compete at the Classic distance. And likely to some day emerge from the Shadow of Uncle Mo and shine as if he was Alydar himself.