Outwork avenges sire, Uncle Mo, in Wood Memorial
by Laura D. Pugh
Five years after Uncle Mo ran third in the Wood Memorial, his son Outwork returned to the site of that loss and avenged it with a flourish!
The story of a son returning to finish what his father never could is always a good one, but what really makes this a great and interesting story are the connections. Outwork is owned by Repole Stables, the same stables that campaigned Uncle Mo. He is trained by Todd Pletcher, who was Uncle Mo’s trainer, and he is ridden by Uncle Mo’s old pilot John Velazquez.
“It’s sort of vindication in some ways for him (Mike Repole), and to win it with a son of Uncle Mo is a pretty good story,” trainer Todd Pletcher noted after the completion of the Wood Memorial.
With today’s victory, not only did Outwork avenge his sire’s first defeat, he earned 100 point towards the Kentucky Derby. Basically, he won a win and you’re in spot to the gate of the Kentucky Derby.
Uncle Mo never got a chance to compete in the Kentucky Derby, but now Outwork has given him his second son ready to Run for the Roses
The time of the Wood Memorial will impress no one, however there is much more to this race than just time.
For instance, Aqueduct was subject to constant rain from noon onward. The track wasn’t even sealed until after the third race, the Excelsior, where it became apparent that the moisture was deadening the surface. However, despite their best efforts to squeegee the moisture from the track, they couldn’t get the surface to speed up.
Despite the condition of the track, Outwork contested the lead with Matt King Coal through blistering opening splits of 22.91 and 46.93. The only splits that were faster came from the six-furlong Bay Shore Stakes.
At this point, nobody would fault the colt for throwing in the towel. His opponent Matt King Coal had saved most of the ground and had more two-turn experience, but that didn’t deter Outwork. Instead of packing in, he edged clear of Matt King Coal, who couldn’t maintain the pace.
If Johnny V. thought he was home free aboard Outwork, he was wrong. Trojan Nation, a maiden would try to sneak up the rail to steal the victory from Outwork, but he would have none of it. As soon as he caught sight of his unheralded rival he dug back in, refusing to let Trojan Nation by.
The stretch run was a nail-biter to say the least. Trojan Nation was giving Outwork all he could handle on the inside, but Outwork was relentless. At the wire, Outwork prevailed by a head bob.
You see, it didn’t matter he started from the widest post, losing ground into the first turn. It didn’t matter to him that he lacked experience, or was tried by several opponents both early and late. What mattered to Outwork was winning.
“He has mastered a lot, and he showed a lot of heart. He went from three-quarters of a mile, to a mile and a sixteenth to a mile and an eighth in a very short time,” jockey John Velazquez said of Outwork.
We already know that this colt is fast, he proved that in the Tampa Bay Derby. What found out today was that this one has the heart of a lion, and that combination makes for a champion.
If he can win the Kentucky Derby remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: he will do everything he can to reach the wire first.
Photos courtesy of Laura D. Pugh