LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Uncle Mo is back at Churchill Downs as the early 5-2 favorite in a field of 13 for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic nearly six months after he was knocked out of the Kentucky Derby on the eve of the race with what was diagnosed as a life-threatening liver disease.
He was the second favorite for the Derby. Now all eyes are back on Uncle Mo to see if he can complete his comeback with a season-ending victory in North America's richest race.
"Uncle Mo has never looked better, has never trained better," said owner Mike Repole, due to arrive in Louisville today. "This is the Uncle Mo we thought we'd see the whole 3-year-old season. For him to make this comeback in just four months from being diagnosed is amazing."
Uncle Mo and John Velazquez will break from the No. 12 post in the 11/4-mile race Saturday, the second of two days of 15 Breeders' Cup races for the world's best thoroughbreds. Filly Havre de Grace drew the No. 10 post Monday and was installed as the 3-1 second choice (odds and post positions, below).
Uncle Mo lost 200 pounds while he was sidelined with the illness that initially puzzled veterinarians and trainer Todd Pletcher. He returned in August and lost the King's Bishop by a nose before winning the Kelso Handicap by 3 lengths last month.
"He's doing as well as he can be doing," Pletcher said. "We've come a long way since May."
Uncle Mo will run against a field that includes stablemate Stay Thirsty, Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice, Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Flat Out and Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude.
A major question surrounding Uncle Mo is whether he will handle the distance. Stay Thirsty has had success running 11/4 miles, with a win in the Travers and a third-place finish in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. "(Uncle Mo has) done nothing to indicate that he can't get the distance, but until he does it, you don't know for sure," Pletcher said.