Gotta go with Mo.
The Kentucky Derby is still about three months away, but there's little argument right now that Uncle Mo is the horse to beat on the first Saturday in May.
Winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and 2-year-old champion, Uncle Mo is training toward his 3-year-old debut next month in the Tampa Bay Derby.
So far, so good. The colt trained by Todd Pletcher worked a half-mile in a solid 47.45 seconds at Palm Meadows in Boynton Beach, Fla., on Sunday.
"It's amazing what a couple of works have done for his fitness level," Pletcher said after Uncle Mo's third winter workout. "I feel like I'm ahead of schedule."
With a 3-for-3 record, Uncle Mo is the easy pick at No. 1 in The Associated Press' first Run to the Roses Top 10 list of Derby contenders.
To Honor and Serve is No. 2, with Pletcher's Brethren third, and Dialed In and Jaycito rounding out the top 5.
Pletcher could be in for another huge season. The nation's top trainer finally won a Derby last year with Super Saver and has 20 horses nominated for the Derby and the other Triple Crown races, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. Hall of Famer Bob Baffert also has 20 nominees, including No. 5 Jaycito and No. 10 The Factor.
Brethren staked his claim as a leading contender with a four-length win in the Sam F. Davis Stakes over the weekend, while No. 8 Anthony's Cross took the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and Silver Medallion became a horse to watch after winning the El Camino Real Derby.
BC Juvenile runner-up Boys at Tosconova is off the Derby trail, with trainer Rick Dutrow saying he's not sure what's wrong, but the colt "just wasn't right" during his morning gallops.
The next set of Derby preps are this weekend, with the Risen Star (Grade 2) at the Fair Grounds on Saturday, the San Vicente (Grade 2) at Santa Anita on Sunday, and the Southwest (Grade 3) at Oaklawn Park on Monday.
The opening Derby future wager odds will be released Sunday night.
1. Uncle Mo (Todd Pletcher, trainer; John Velazquez, jockey): Champion 2-year-old is 3-for-3, including Breeders' Cup Juvenile romp. ... Worked 4 furlongs in 47.45 seconds at Palm Meadows on Sunday. ... Purchased for $220,000 by Mike Repole, who wants colt's final prep to be Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9. ... Next start: Tampa Bay Derby (March 12, Tampa Bay Downs, dirt).
2. To Honor And Serve (Bill Mott, Velazquez): Won Nashua and Remsen stakes last year for Live Oak Plantation. ... Son of '06 Preakness winner Bernardini. ... Recently worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 at Payson Park. ... Next start: Fountain of Youth (Feb. 26, Gulfstream, dirt).
3. Brethren (Pletcher, Ramon Dominguez): Kicked off 3-year-old campaign with easy 4-length win in Sam F. Davis. ... Half brother to last year's Derby winner Super Saver, also trained by Pletcher. ... Next start: Undecided.
4. Dialed In (Nick Zito; Julien Leparoux): Won Holy Bull by 1 1/2 lengths after rallying from 15 lengths back. ... Broke maiden with stunning stretch run at Churchill Downs on Nov. 12. ... Prepping at Palm Meadows. ... Next start: Fountain of Youth (Feb. 26, Gulfstream, dirt).
5. Jaycito (Bob Baffert, Mike Smith): Won Norfolk, finished seventh in BC Juvenile. ... Baffert took over as trainer after Juvenile. ... Next start: San Vicente (Feb. 20, Santa Anita, dirt).
6. Santiva (Eddie Kenneally, Shaun Bridgmohan): Won Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. ... Kenneally is colt's third trainer; others were Pletcher and Ken McPeek for owner Tom Walters. ... Prepping at Palm Meadows for 3-year-old debut. ... Next start: Risen Star (Feb. 19, Fair Grounds, dirt).
7. Mucho Macho Man (Kathy Ritvo, Eibar Coa): Fourth as favorite in Holy Bull; will run next without blinkers. ... Worked 5 furlongs in leisurely 1:04.36 at Palm Meadows on Saturday. ... Runner-up in Remsen and Nashua. ... Next start: Risen Star (Feb. 19, Fair Grounds, dirt).
8. Anthony's Cross (Eoin Harty, Joel Rosario): Won Robert B. Lewis by a nose. ... Finished third in the Sham, 9 1/4 lengths behind Tapizar. ... Harty may call for one more start before Santa Anita Derby. ... Next start: Undecided.
9. Tapizar (Steve Asmussen, Garrett Gomez): Surprising fifth in Robert B. Lewis at 3-10 odds. ... Won Sham by 4 1/4 lengths in 3-year-old debut. ... Next start: Undecided.
10. The Factor (Baffert, Rafael Bejarano): Gray colt won by 8-plus lengths at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, setting track record of 1:06.98 for 6 furlongs. ... Named for Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. ... Next start: San Vicente (Feb. 20, Santa Anita, dirt).