Stay Thirsty Flying Under The Radar

Stay Thirsty may not be a ‘household name’ right now, but much of that is due to the fact that he’s a stablemate in trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn with current Kentucky Derby favorite Uncle Mo. There’s a growing sentiment, however, that he may be more of a legit contender than his more famous stablemate.

Uncle Mo has been the presumptive favorite in Kentucky Derby betting ever since his win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall, and now that his three year old campaign is finally underway he’s not only the odds on choice in the Wynn Las Vegas futures book but the official Kentucky Derby Futures Wager at Churchill Downs. Uncle Mo has done everything asked of him, but the reality is that he hasn’t *had* that much asked of him. He blew away an overmatched field in the Timely Writer which didn’t undermine his perception as top contender but didn’t do much to enhance it either. It was more of an exhibition than anything else, with Mo doing what was expected against a made to order field and distance.

Some pedigree handicappers are also concerned about Uncle Mo’s lineage. Uncle Mo is by Indian Charlie, whose offspring just haven’t produced on a consistent basis at longer distances. Stay Thirsty’s pedigree suggests no such distance limitations. His sire Bernardini, who won the 2006 Preakness and took second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Bernardini is a son Belmont and Breeder’s Cup Classic winner A.P. Indy, so there’s a lot to suggest that Stay Thirsty may have a better bloodline for the Triple Crown race distance than Uncle Mo.

Uncle Mo is clearly an excellent horse, so this isn’t to denigrate him but there’s little to validate the concept that an easy road to the Derby is beneficial.  While Mo was doing what was expected in a lackluster situation, Stay Thirsty was winning the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct in impressive fashion.  Of course Uncle Mo’s next race is far from a cakewalk–he’s expected to start in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9th.  Here’s the rub though–by making their intentions to run in the Wood clear immediately trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole have preempted many of the top three year olds from challenging Uncle Mo.  It’s not that he’s *that* dominant, but there’s no real upside to testing a promising three year old against the Kentucky Derby favorite before the first Sunday in May at Churchill Downs.  Stay Thirsty will also have decent competition in his next outing, with Pletcher trying to decide between the Arkansas Derby and Florida Derby.

Published On Mar 18, 2011