New shooters Stradivari, Uncle Lino just needed time to shine

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TwinSpires Staff

May 15th, 2016

Edited Preakness press release

After Stradivari broke his maiden in his second lifetime start by a handy 11 1/4 lengths at Gulfstream Park December 5, trainer Todd Pletcher had to scrap a plan to point the son of Medaglia d’Oro to some prep race for the Triple Crown. The seven-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer had to wait four months for Stradivari’s return to action in a Keeneland allowance race April 17.

“We just had a minor setback with him [after the Gulfstream win]. He never was totally out of training. He stayed at Palm Beach Downs and we just got a little behind schedule in some of the traditional Derby preps,” Pletcher said. “We just ran out of time a little bit and decided that the allowance race was the direction to go.”

Stradivari followed up his maiden victory in even more dazzling fashion in the entry-level allowance, scoring by 14 1/2 lengths after running 1 1/8 miles in 1:48 3/5.

“On one side of it you have a fresh horse that hasn’t been through the rigors of the prep series and a race like the Derby. On the other side of the coin you have a horse that’s pretty light on experience and is giving up some seasoning to some horses that have been on that campaign,” Pletcher said.

“You might gain a bit in one area and lose a bit in the other, but historically I think it takes a pretty special horse to be able to compete in races like that against these types of horses. We are really impressed with the way he’s run and the way he’s trained.”

Fellow new shooter Uncle Lino likewise needed time.

Yet another stakes-winning son of the hot young sire Uncle Mo, Uncle Lino steps into the Preakness (G1) from a smashing win in the California Chrome – named after the 2014 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness winner – at Los Alamitos. Trained and co-owned by Gary Sherlock, Uncle Lino led from gate to wire in the California Chrome and set a track record for 1 1/16 miles of 1:40.82.

Uncle Lino was one of three yearlings Sherlock and Tom Mansor purchased at the 2014 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. They subsequently brought in another California resident, Jim Glavin as a partner on the trio. Mansor has owned horses for many years. One of his recent successes was with the sprinter Big Macher. Glavin has been in the sport for many years and operates at Purple Shamrock Racing.

Sherlock said that he identified Uncle Lino as an individual that could develop into a capable runner but was a bit of a gamble.

“He just needed to do a few things right,” Sherlock said. “His withers needed to come up. He was a little off. He needed to grow into his pasterns. He did all those things and more and he did everything right in his races. He’s a very good horse.”

Uncle Lino will be Sherlock’s first starter in Maryland.

The colt is out of a strong female family. His dam, Haysee by sprint champion Orientate, never made it to the races, but she is a half-sister to 2011 Preakness winner Shackleford and graded scorers Afleeting Lady and Baghdaria. The mare is also a full sister to Lady Joanne, winner of the historic Alabama (G1) at Saratoga. Sherlock paid $52,000 for the yearling colt who has finished in the top three in six of his seven starts and earned $316,600.

“I’m surprised that I got him that cheap with his pedigree,” he said. “I just got lucky.”

Sherlock started training Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds in 1966, but his main focus was Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos. When he made the switch to Thoroughbreds in 1980, he was third in Quarter Horse victories in California. A health emergency – a blocked artery –forced him to leave training in 1995. He returned a decade later had great success with one of his early purchases, the sprinting filly Intangaroo. A $37,000 buy, she won three Grade 1 sprint races in 2008 and sold for $1.8 million as a broodmare prospect.

These days, Sherlock operates a small stable of 20 horses.

“It just fits,” he said. “I don’t want to have 100. I just want better. It’s a good number.”

And from the Santa Anita notes...

“The draw is important,” Sherlock said on an overcast Sunday morning at Clockers’ Corner. “Where my horse is depends on the draw and who’s in the race.”

“Unless Nyquist can’t come back in 13 days, he’s going to be tough to beat. I’m hoping Uncle Lino moves forward and that coming back in two weeks takes its toll on the others (that ran in the Kentucky Derby on May 7).

“If we draw inside, we’re just going to go. It’s all about the draw now.”

Stradivari photo courtesy Keeneland/Coady Photography.