Mike Repole raised a glass of champagne and toasted his latest Kentucky Derby contender, Stay Thirsty.
"To have one horse for the Derby is unimaginable, to have two is unimaginable, a miracle," the colt's owner said to a party of 40 friends and family members after Stay Thirsty's victory in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct over the weekend. "This doesn't come along very often, so let's all enjoy the ride."
Repole has been doing just that for weeks with unbeaten Uncle Mo, who remains No. 1 in the AP's latest Run to the Roses Top 10 Derby list. Stay Thirsty, who has been running in his stablemate's shadow, moves in for the first time at No. 6.
Both colts are trained by Todd Pletcher, who also trains No. 2 Brethren.
Uncle Mo gets his chance to prove himself worthy as the early favorite for the May 7 Derby when he makes his 3-year-old debut Saturday in the Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Stay Thirsty, who ran fifth behind Uncle Mo in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November, will have his final Derby prep in either the Florida Derby on April 3 or the Arkansas Derby on April 16.
"I couldn't be any happier for this horse," Repole said. "I keep hearing about 'Mo's shadow,' 'stablemate.' This is one of the top six 3-year-olds in the country. He is a really special horse."
Meanwhile, Dialed In dropped out of the Top 10 from No. 5 after finishing second to 4-year-old stablemate Equestrio in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Sunday.
Three-year-olds don't usually run against older horses so early in the year, but trainer Nick Zito was looking for a race around two turns to get his colt ready for the Florida Derby as a final prep before the Kentucky Derby.
Still, Zito is keeping the Florida Derby under consideration for Dialed In, who came into the race off a win in the Holy Bull.
"I liked the way they went the final eighth (mile) and the way he galloped out," Zito said of Dialed In.
Trainer Bob Baffert decided that one of his top Derby prospects, The Factor (up two spots to No. 5 this week), will run next in the Rebel Stakes on March 19 at Oaklawn Park. Baffert won the Rebel last year with Lookin At Lucky, who went on to win the Preakness Stakes.
"We want to see what he can do around two turns against top company and this looks like a good spot for him" Baffert said of the 1 1-16th-mile Rebel. "Right now, this horse is a runaway train, and if it doesn't work out we'll go on to something else."
In other Derby preps Saturday, there's the San Felipe at Santa Anita and the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs, both 1 1-16 miles. No. 8 Jaycito is set for his 3-year-old debut in the San Felipe; No. 2 Brethren is set for the Tampa Bay Derby.
1. Uncle Mo (Todd Pletcher, trainer; John Velazquez, jockey): Next race will be colt's first in 126 days ... Two-year-old champ won all three of his races by a combined 23 1/4 lengths. ... Worked 4 furlongs in 48.80 Sunday ay Palm Meadows. ... Next start: Timely Writer (Saturday, Gulfstream Park, dirt). ... Derby future wager odds: 7-2.
2. Brethren (Pletcher, Ramon Dominguez): Sam F. Davis winner worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 Sunday at Palm Meadows. ... Like Uncle Mo, also unbeaten in three races. ... Next start: Tampa Bay Derby (Saturday, Tampa Bay Downs, dirt). ... Odds: 15-1.
3. Soldat (Kiaran McLaughlin, Alan Garcia): Fountain of Youth winner has three wins and four seconds in seven career starts. ... Next start: Florida Derby (April 3, Gulfstream, dirt). ... Odds: 18-1.
4. Mucho Macho Man (Kathy Ritvo, Rajiv Maragh): Worked 4 furlongs in 48.50 Sunday at Gulfstream. ... Owners decided next start will be in Louisiana rather than Florida. ... Next start: Louisiana Derby (March 26, Fair Grounds, dirt). ... Odds: 30-1.
5. The Factor (Bob Baffert, Martin Garcia): San Vicente winner worked 6 furlongs in 1:10.60 Saturday at Santa Anita. ... Baffert calls speedy colt a "runaway train." ... Next start: Rebel (March 19, Oaklawn Park, dirt). ... Odds: 25-1.
6. Stay Thirsty (Pletcher, Dominguez): Won Gotham by 3 1/4 lengths despite slow start to move into Top 10 for first time. ... Ran fifth in Breeders' Cup Juvenile behind stablemate Uncle Mo. ... Will run next in either Florida Derby on April 3 or the Arkansas Derby on April 16. ... Next start: Undecided. ... Odds: 5-2 (mutuel field).
7. Santiva (Eddie Kenneally, Shaun Bridgmohan): Risen Star runner-up worked 4 furlongs in 51.90 Saturday at Palm Meadows. ... Won Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last year. ... Next start: Undecided. ... Odds: 37-1.
8. Jaycito (Baffert, Mike Smith): Norfolk winner worked 5 furlongs in 59.80 Sunday at Santa Anita. ... Next start: San Felipe (Saturday, Santa Anita, dirt). ... Odds: 21-1.
9. Gourmet Dinner (Steven Standridge, Ramon Dominguez): Delta Jackpot winner was solid runner-up in Fountain of Youth. ... Next start: Santa Anita Derby (April 9, Santa Anita, dirt). ... Odds: 85-1.
10. To Honor and Serve (Bill Mott, Velazquez): Well-beaten third in Fountain of Youth in first start since November. ... Won Remsen and Nashua as a 2-year-old. ... Next start: Florida Derby. ... Odds: 10-1.
Keep an eye on: Anthony's Cross, Astrology, Beamer, Flashpoint, J P's Gusto.