|Trainer Todd Pletcher reported Sunday morning that Travers winner Stay Thirsty and King’s Bishop runner-up Uncle Mo came back from their respective efforts in good order, but that Grade I Ballerina winner Hilda’s Passion returned with a non-displaced condylar fracture of her right front ankle.
“She’ll be going for surgery tomorrow at Rood and Riddle [in Kentucky],” said Pletcher. “As far as those kinds of fractures, it’s relatively minor. We’ll see after surgery what our plans are.”
Pletcher said that Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo appeared to be in “great shape,” and that he would be discussing plans for each with owner Mike Repole. After the Travers, the 1 ¼-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on October 1 had been mentioned as a possible stepping-stone to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic for Stay Thirsty.
“We’re going to see [what’s next for both],” he said. “We’ll try to manage two horses at once and do what’s best for each horse.”
Pletcher added that he watched the replay of the “Mid-Summer Derby” several times and continued to be impressed with what he called a “courageous” race by Stay Thirsty.
“The way it unfolded he was under pressure from start to finish,” he said. “It was a ‘he fended off all challengers the whole way’ kind of race.”
Repole reflected on his Travers winner and the path that he has taken since running as a 2-year-old last year at the Saratoga meet.
“Last year, I firmly believed and told people that Stay Thirsty would like longer distances and really improve as a 3-year-old,” he said. “After the Belmont Stakes, people dismissed the race; they said it was a strange distance, the slop, he beat tired horses. It wasn’t until the Jim Dandy that people started giving him his due. That was his first ‘wow’ race, but he had a pretty easy trip.
“Yesterday, with the way the race played out, he had to run the entire mile and a quarter, Repole noted. “He stumbled at the start, dragged Javier to the lead, was pressured by Shackleford, had to fight to keep his position. I mean, he fended off opponent after opponent and wasn’t in a comfortable spot until he crossed the wire. It was a gutsy, brilliant performance. I said on Wednesday at the draw that if one of four horses – Coil, Shackleford, Ruler On Ice, or Stay Thirsty – won the Travers, they would separate themselves in the 3-year-old champion race, and I think Thirsty did just that. He was a half a length from sweeping the Belmont Stakes, Jim Dandy, and Travers, and he is just getting better and better.”
Repole was equally as proud of what his 2010 Champion Two-Year-Old Uncle Mo did in the King’s Bishop, and stressed that before any additional plans are mapped out for him, he’ll have to be closely watched.
“Uncle Mo ran a really special race yesterday,” Repole said. “He had 150 days on the shelf, lost 150 pounds and had to put it back on, and then lost a shoe in the race. It was a brilliant performance. If he had won yesterday, he probably would have been a candidate for the comeback story of the year.
“Considering what he has been through, we have to really see how he comes out of the race,” Repole continued. “We will need to check his weight, his blood, and really make sure everything is 100 percent. If he comes out of the race well, and continues to do as well as he has the last six weeks in Saratoga, then we could have a horse that could run in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile or Classic. But again, he is a horse that considering what he has been through, we have to see how he comes out of the race before we make any types of plans.”
Repole also realizes how fortunate he is to have two superstars like Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo running with his colors.
“I’m not naïve, I know I could be in the game for another 50 years and not have a horse as talented as either Stay Thirsty or Uncle Mo. I know how fortunate I am, and I have seen the highest highs and the lowest lows, even yesterday was a rollercoaster in the span of 30 minutes. But the Travers is one of the top four races I would want to win. Knowing that my silks will be up on the jockey statue all year, and my colors will be on the Travers canoe…that hasn’t really sunk in yet.”