Decision set for Friday on whether ailing Uncle Mo will run for roses

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — To go or not to go. Uncle Mo’s connections still weren’t saying whether the talented colt will run in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

The colt was recovering from a stomach ailment but looked good as he galloped over the Churchill Downs track Thursday, though appearances could be deceiving.

Last year’s juvenile champion, Uncle Mo is the 9-2 second choice behind 4-1 early favorite Dialed In.

Owner Mike Repole anxiously awaited results from the latest vet exam and promised to end the drama by announcing a decision Friday.

“If he’s not what we deem to be 100 percent [Friday], he’s not going to be 100 percent on Saturday,” he said.

Repole said he won’t sacrifice Uncle Mo’s health to satisfy his 30-year dream of having a horse in America’s greatest race. Either way, he won’t be shut out. He has Stay Thirsty in the full field of 20 horses.

Still, he doesn’t want to leave his best horse in the barn.

“It’s tough,” he said. “Racing needs superstars and if he’s 100 percent, Uncle Mo could be that superstar.”

He sure looked it after winning last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on the same Churchill Downs track and taking a perfect record into the Wood Memorial. There, Uncle Mo led the field with a quarter-mile to go, but two horses passed him and he finished third by a length. Afterward, Uncle Mo’s appetite fell off and raised suspicions. An exam turned up the stomach problem.

Outwardly, Uncle Mo looks as healthy as, well, a horse. Internally, no one’s sure exactly what’s going on. That’s the quandary.

Uncle Mo could be fine. Or Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher could be risking a repeat of the Wood Memorial.

“If he runs and he runs seventh, Todd and I will look at each other and guess he wasn’t 100 percent,” Repole said. “If he runs and he wins by seven lengths, we can look at each other and say ‘Wow, we’re geniuses.’ “

Count three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert among those who discount Uncle Mo’s bellyache.

“From what I’ve seen visually, there’s nothing there that tells me the horse isn’t ready to run,” the trainer of Midnight Interlude said. “He’s a good horse.”

Pletcher wasn’t talking Thursday. But he has said Uncle Mo responded well to treatment and his appetite has returned. Repole said the colt has gone off much of his medication.

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