Kentucky Derby contender profile: Uncle Chuck

July 7th, 2020

On nine occasions, a horse trained by Bob Baffert has been voted champion 3-year-old male at the Eclipse Awards.

The majority were shining stars during the annual spring classics — Triple Crown champions American Pharoah and Justify first and foremost — but Baffert has also won the award with late-maturing colts who dominated major races during the summer and fall, such as Arrogate and West Coast.

Bob Baffert's 3-year-old Champions

West Coast
American Pharoah
Lookin At Lucky
War Emblem
Point Given
Real Quiet
Silver Charm

Now Baffert finds himself in uncharted territory. Once again, he is training a late-maturing sophomore with a world of talent and potential — Uncle Chuck, the runaway winner of the Los Alamitos Derby (G3) on Independence Day at Los Alamitos. The difference this time? The postponement of the 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1) because of the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the racing calendar upside down, which gives a late-developing prospect like Uncle Chuck plenty of time to take aim at the Run for the Roses.

Uncle Chuck has always been cut out to be a top prospect. A son of juvenile champion Uncle Mo, who sired 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, Uncle Chuck was produced by the Unbridled’s Song mare Forest Music, a two-time graded stakes-winning sprinter.

Forest Music has already established her class as a broodmare. She foaled graded stakes winners Electric Forest and Kentuckian, plus Maclean’s Music, the sire of 2017 Preakness (G1) winner Cloud Computing.

With this promising pedigree in his corner, Uncle Chuck sold for $250,000 as a yearling, and the dark bay colt is living up to his potential. Racing in the silks of Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman — then same partnership behind Baffert’s 2010 3-year-old champion Lookin At Lucky — Uncle Chuck debuted in a 1-mile Santa Anita maiden race June 12 and led all the way to win by seven lengths.

This eye-catching performance stamped Uncle Chuck as the 2-5 favorite for the 1 1/8-mile Los Alamitos Derby. 

Against three rivals, including Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) winner Thousand Words, Uncle Chuck showed a new dimension. He tracked fractions of :22.76 and :47.15, then took command on the far turn. Down the lane, Uncle Chuck was full of run and sprinted the final furlong in :11.85 to win by four lengths in 1:47.65. The victory secured Uncle Chuck 20 qualification points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

One week prior to the Los Alamitos Derby, bettors expressed their faith in Uncle Chuck by betting the promising colt down to 13-1 in Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 5. It might seem like a short price, but if Uncle Chuck continues progressing along the lines of Arrogate and West Coast, there is every chance Baffert will find himself with a Kentucky Derby winner — and another 3-year-old champion — on his hands.