As if having unbeaten champion and 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite Nyquist weren’t enough of a smash in his first crop, the hits just keep on coming for sire sensation Uncle Mo. Another son, Outwork, booked his Derby ticket by capturing the Wood Memorial (G1), five years after Uncle Mo lost his perfect mark in the same race for the same connections – Repole Stable, trainer Todd Pletcher, and jockey John Velazquez.
Uncle Mo brought high hopes into his classic campaign, as the undefeated champion 2-year-old colt of 2010. After showing blistering speed to romp by more than 14 lengths in his Saratoga unveiling, he dominated the one-mile Champagne (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in his two-turn debut. Uncle Mo kicked off 2011 with another success in a forgettable race at Gulfstream (a custom-made mile event dubbed the Timely Writer), but it all came apart when he faded to third in the Wood.
Scratched from the Kentucky Derby when he just didn’t seem himself, Uncle Mo was subsequently diagnosed with a liver problem. He was not seen again until the Spa, where he was mugged at the wire of the seven-furlong King’s Bishop (G1) by Caleb’s Posse. Uncle Mo kept to one turn for the Kelso (G2), and readily dispatched older foes Jackson Bend and Jersey Town.
Now Uncle Mo would answer the distance question once and for all in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Or so we thought. Winding up 10th in the only poor effort of his life, he was found to have a recurrence of his old liver issue.
While Uncle Mo obviously rated as an exciting newcomer to the stallion ranks, few could have predicted just how successful his first crop would be. He topped the North American freshman sire list, and the overall 2-year-old sire list, and had a grand total of 10 juveniles in the Experimental Free Handicap.
In addition to Nyquist, who emulated Uncle Mo by clinching an Eclipse Award in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he’s also responsible for Lecomte (G3) hero Mo Tom, butchered by his trips in both the Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2); Laoban, still a maiden but on the Derby bubble after accumulating points in the Gotham (G3), Sham (G3), and Blue Grass (G1); Santa Anita Derby (G1) third Uncle Lino (who’s reportedly not under Kentucky Derby consideration); and other stakes-winning sons Forevamo, Uncle Vinny, Uncle Brennie, and Abiding Star.
Uncle Mo’s fillies have also made a splash, led by Alcibiades (G1) heroine Gomo and Grade 2-placed Thrilled, who opened 2016 with a score in the Plum Pretty at Sunland. Most recently, Mokat just finished best of the rest behind Songbird in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1).
At this point, it’s an open question whether Uncle Mo can sire horses who excel at a classic distance. Hence the maternal half of the pedigree takes on added importance, and here Outwork may get enough help from his broodmare sire.
Both of Outwork’s parents were Repole runners. His dam, Nonna Mia, crushed a 5 1/2-furlong maiden before placing in the 2009 Frizette (G1) and Tempted (G3). She began her broodmare career by visiting Distorted Humor. The resulting foal, Nonna’s Boy, placed in the Gold Fever and Easy Goer on dirt, but earned his most notable win in the Lamplighter on the Monmouth Park turf.
Although Nonna Mia spent all of her brief career around one turn, she’s by 2003 Belmont S. (G1), Florida Derby (G1), and Wood Memorial victor Empire Maker. Himself the son of 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)-winning champion Unbridled, Empire Maker sired three-time Eclipse Award winner Royal Delta among a raft of high-class fillies. His Grade 1-winning sons Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister both had to settle for second in the Kentucky Derby (in 2009 and 2012, respectively), just like Empire Maker did. But Pioneerof the Nile had the satisfaction of siring Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
Nonna Mia is a three-quarter sister to another notable son of Pioneerof the Nile, Cairo Prince, who was for a time the leading contender for the 2014 Kentucky Derby. Victorious in the Nashua (G2) and Holy Bull (G2), Cairo Prince unfortunately sustained an injury that ruled him out of the classics and ultimately led to his retirement.
Nonna Mia and Cairo Prince were produced by the speedy Holy Bubbette, who scored both of her stakes wins (the Dixie Miss at Louisiana Downs and the Whimsical at Woodbine) at six furlongs. She also finished second in the Chaposa Springs (G3) over seven furlongs at Calder.
Holy Bubbette is by Hall of Famer Holy Bull, whose trademark speed propelled him to a series of victories – including the 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1) as well as the Metropolitan H. (G1) and Woodward (G1) over older horses – en route to 1994 Horse of the Year honors. A rare blemish came with his 12th in the Kentucky Derby.
During his successful stud career, Holy Bull etched his name in Derby history after all by siring Giacomo, the 50-1 winner in the 2005 Run for the Roses. Another prominent son, 2000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-winning champion Macho Uno, is now a successful sire himself.
Holy Bubbette’s dam, Juliac, has also produced Grade 2 vixen Sum Runner. Although Sum Runner earned her signature win in the seven-furlong Forward Gal (G2), she won a restricted stakes at 1 1/16 miles and placed third in the 1993 Fair Grounds Oaks (G3).
Outwork’s seventh dam, Now What, was the champion 2-year-old filly of 1939. His eighth dam, That’s That, is a full sister to Hall of Famer Sarazen.
Delving deep into the female line, Outwork shares an early 19th-century ancestress in common with 1911 Kentucky Derby winner Meridian. They descend from an even more remote tap root mare dating well back into the 18th century. This same tap root mare counts as a descendant (via another branch) the 1987 Derby and Preakness winner, Hall of Famer Alysheba. Such trivia doesn’t have a great bearing on Derby pedigree analysis, but it’s fun.
Pedigree information courtesy of Brisnet.
Photo courtesy of NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Joe Labozzetta.