There seem to be enough mitigating factors to suggest that Uncle Mo will not be completely up against it in the Kentucky Derby despite the deafening distance questions following his collapse inside the final furlong in his first try at 1 1/8 miles. For one, he certainly has to be expected to move forward in his third start off a four-month layoff. Also, he's still the fastest two-turn horse based on his Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Getting that speed to carry another 3/16 mile is a legitimate concern, though, obviously.
Here are some other thoughts and observations from the weekend:
- The Factor is the pro tem leader of the division, but that seems to be more a "He's the most likely superstar of the group if all goes well" opinion than a "He's my top pick to win the Derby." We'll learn more about him in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday at Oaklawn.
- Speaking of that race, I haven't completely given up on Sway Away, and he remains in my top five despite a lackluster Rebel. If he shows up in a big way on Saturday then I could see him being my pick come May 7.
- Speaking of sons of Afleet Alex in the Arkansas Derby, I'm not in the uncomfortable position of having to acknowledge that Elite Alex is a threat in this crop. It's not that he's run amazing, but given what we've seen the past month, he's certainly run well enough to fit among this group.
- Many people who have done it better than me have written about the highs and lows in this game, so rather than reheat that particular skillet, I will offer an anecdote that illustrates it: On Friday afternoon, a despondent H. Graham Motion walked in solitude near the Paddock Bar on the ground floor of Keeneland. His Pluck had just finished off the board for the second consecutive time. He was clearly disappointed. Flash forward 24 hours later, and Motion is 750 miles away in Queens celebrating winning the Wood Memorial with Toby's Corner. Depending on how things go for the trainer in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, he could have three horses in the country's most prestigious race (though Motion has said that he values the Breeders' Cup as much as the Triple Crown).
- On the Lexington food front, Village Host pizza—a new place on Old Vine where Bar None (a tee-totaling sports bar) used to be—is terrible. I gave it a D+. Others in my party gave it an "F" and "D-". Lexington certainly isn't known for its pizza, but Village Host could change all that. Now Lexington can be known for its bad pizza.