Keeneland buyers spoilt for choice of more expensively bred hips by Uncle Mo
Martin Stevens looks at the record of a sire who could become an all-time great
An important consideration when studying yearling sale catalogues is the ‘bounce factor’ among the sires represented; that is, who served improved books of mares in 2017 on the back of progeny success on the racecourse and now have better bred youngsters available to buy.
One striking example this year is Uncle Mo, the son of Indian Charlie who was American’s champion juvenile of 2010 after recording wide-margin victories in the Champagne Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and came back at three to win the Kelso Handicap and be beaten just a nose in the King’s Bishop Stakes.
His debut two-year-olds hit the track in 2015, and he made a dazzling first impression by supplying three-time Grade 1 winner and champion juvenile Nyquist, Alcibiades heroine Gomo, Grade 3 scorer Sanford, and Forevamo, Lost Raven, Mo Tom and Uncle Brennie, all successful at Listed level.
This article first appeared in our 16-page Keeneland September Yearling Sale supplement, full of interesting features and essential statistics and available to read online by clicking here
Unsurprisingly, his fee at Ashford Stud in Kentucky was trebled to $75,000 for the 2016 covering season and the resultant foals, now aged two, include Bast, who stormed to a near nine-length victory in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante Stakes on Saturday.
Even better was to come on the racecourse as Uncle Mo’s first crop turned three. Nyquist landed the Florida Derby and became only the second horse to complete the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-Kentucky Derby double; Outwork took the Wood Memorial; Laoban and Mokat struck at Grade 2 level; and Auntie Joy, Front Pocket Money and Unbridled Mo scored in Grade 3s. The sire’s next generation of two-year-old runners, meanwhile, included the impressive Grade 2 Remsen Stakes winner Mo Town.
Uncle Mo’s fee was consequently doubled to $150,000 in 2017 and he covered a bumper book of 204 mares that year, and it is the resultant offspring who are coming up for auction as yearlings this year.
Five sold for $300,000 or more at Saratoga in August, headed by a filly out of dual Grade 1 winner Artemis Agrotera sold to White Birch Farm for $500,000 and a brother to Jim Dandy Stakes scorer Laoban knocked down to Lael Stable for $475,000. There is no shortage of choice of Uncle Mo yearlings at Keeneland in September, with 86 in the catalogue.
Reflecting on Uncle Mo’s stallion career, Ashford Stud manager Dermot Ryan says: “Ever since his first crop hit the racetrack he’s been shattering records. The total earnings of his two-year-olds in his freshman year was an all-time record that no other sire has got close to in the meantime.
“Uncle Mo’s massive total of 25 stakes winners from his first crop is also an all-time record; he raced in the colours of Mike Repole, who got him off to a great start with his first Grade 1 winner in Outwork.
“It’s amazing to think that the horse is only 11 years old and has already sired six Grade 1 winners on dirt, turf and synthetic.”
Asked what he thinks the secret of Uncle Mo’s success as a stallion is, Ryan replies: “He’s a big, good-looking individual, all quality and a pleasure to be around. He’s a very straightforward and uncomplicated horse, expertly handled by his groom Renee, who has looked after him since he came to Ashford.
“As well as being so good-looking, Uncle Mo was a seriously talented racehorse. Breeders identified this and have been extremely supportive of him throughout his career.”
Ryan reports that Uncle Mo’s “phenomenal” book in 2017 included the brilliant racemare Beholder, Zenyatta’s Grade 1-winning half-sister Balance and Starlet Stakes scorer Diplomat Lady, as well as Miss Macy Sue, the dam of Liam’s Map and Not This Time, and Mythical Bride, the dam of Vino Rosso.
Since that stunning sophomore season in 2016, Uncle Mo’s offspring Bast, Dream Tree, Mo Town and Unbridled Mo have also won Grade 1 contests, and this year Epical, Life’s A Parlay, Miss Mo Mentum and Moon Colony have delivered Graded stakes victories.
In all, with his oldest crop aged six, the stallion is credited with 26 Pattern winners and another 25 Listed winners, with 85 stakes performers in total (up to late August). That has been achieved mainly by his first four crops who were bred off fees ranging from $25,000 to $35,000.
Strong support for Uncle Mo naturally continued to this year’s covering season, when he stood at $125,000. Among the mares he was sent were Circle Of Life and Dream Of Summer, Grade 1 winners themselves and dams of Grade 1 winners Circular Quay and Creative Cause; further Grade 1 scorers Heavenly Love and Intangaroo; and the dams of Bricks And Mortar, Lines Of Battle, Stormy Liberal, Sweet Loretta and World Of Trouble.
With that huge draft of yearlings on offer at Keeneland, and agents, owners and trainers from all around the world set to converge on the sale on the lookout for future stars – not just on dirt but also on turf and synthetics in a multitude of jurisdictions – it is worth pointing out that Uncle Mo has already hinted strongly that he is an all-rounder when it comes to surface.
His progeny Auntie Joy, Epical, Forty Under, Hot Springs, Mokat, Moon Colony, Mo Town and Ultra Brat have all won Pattern contests on turf in America, while his shuttle trips to Coolmore in Australia have yielded the Group 2-winning sprinter Man From Uncle.
Uncle Mo has not had significant representation in Europe yet, but his pedigree contains plenty of comfort for anyone worrying, for whatever reason, that he would not be as effective on the other side of the Atlantic.
His sire Indian Charlie is by In Excess, winner of the King Charles II Stakes at Newmarket for Bill O’Gorman and later Grade 1-placed in the US. In Excess, in turn a son of Prix Morny and Poule d’Essai des Poulains victor Siberian Express, also sired the French Classic winner Musical Chimes.
For good measure, Uncle Mo’s half-sister by War Front, Could It Be Love, ran second in the Irish 1,000 Guineas last year, while damsire Arch was responsible for talented European turf performers such as Arch Swing, Les Arcs and Nyaleti.
There is, though, a good chance that European racegoers will start to see more of Uncle Mo’s stock race locally as breeders appear to have targeted the sire as an outcross for some mares carrying Sadler’s Wells blood.
That much is apparent from the pedigrees of several yearlings at Keeneland, including Blandford Stud’s filly out of Pretty Polly Stakes heroine Diamondsandrubies, a daughter of Fastnet Rock out of Sadler’s Wells’ Group 1-winning daughter Quarter Moon, and the Taylor Made-consigned filly out of Grade 1 winner and dual Guineas runner-up Together, a Galileo three-parts sister to Jan Vermeer who has already produced stakes performers Battle Of Jericho and Earring to War Front and Dansili.
Another Uncle Mo at Keeneland with an intriguing international pedigree is Eaton Sales’ colt out of Australian Thousand Guineas heroine Irish Lights, a daughter of Fastnet Rock who has produced the Group 1 Golden Rose second Omei Sword.
If the improved pedigrees of the Uncle Mo yearlings and enhanced demand for them translate into even better racecourse results, then the sire might just go on to become one of the modern greats.
TEN HIPS BY UNCLE MO TO FOLLOW AT KEENELAND
b f ex Together (Galileo)
Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency
Out of a dual Guineas runner-up and Grade 1 winner by Galileo who has already produced Group 2 runner-up Earring and Listed-placed Battle Of Jericho
dk b/br c ex Chamrousse (Peaks And Valleys)
Taylor Made Sales
Colt out of Black-Eyed Susan Stakes winner and Mother Goose Stakes runner-up Chamrousse, making him a half-brother to Listed-placed Redverse
b f ex Czarina (Bernardini)
First foal of a placed Bernardini sister to Grade 1 winners Angela Renee and To Honor And Serve. Dam is also a half-sister to Donn Handicap third Elnaawi
b f ex Diamondsandrubies (Fastnet Rock)
Second foal out of Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes heroine Diamondsandrubies, a daughter of Fastnet Rock and the Group 1
winner and Classic-placed Quarter Moon
b c ex House Of Danzing (Chester House)
Half-brother to Malibu Stakes winner and sire Twirling Candy, Del Mar Derby winner Ethnic Dance and Grade 3 scorer Dubai Sky
dk b/br c ex Irish Lights (Fastnet Rock)
Half-brother to Australian Group 2 winner and Group 1 runner-up Omei Sword out of Thousand Guineas heroine Irish Lights, a daughter of Fastnet Rock
b c ex Lady Godiva
Half-brother to Clark Handicap winner Leofric from the family of high-class performers Initiation, Multiple Choice and Well Chosen
b c ex Exotic Bloom (Montbrook)
Half-brother to brilliant multiple Grade 1 winner Stopchargingmaria who also counts Railway Stakes winner Van Beethoven as a relative
b c ex Balance (Thunder Gulch)
Mill Ridge Sales
Colt out of Balance, a multiple Grade 1-winning half-sister to the legendary racemare Zenyatta; also the family of Grade 1 runner-up Long Island Sound
b c ex Mythical Bride (Street Cry)
Half-brother to Santa Anita Gold Cup and Wood Memorial Stakes winner Vino Rosso out of a half-sister to Grade 1-placed Commissioner and Laugh Track
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