Derby Top 10: Uncle Mo No. 1, Premier Pegasus is 6

Mar 14 2011 - 4:51pm

He's a thoroughbred breeder, owner and trainer. Myung Kwon Cho wouldn't mind adding another title to his racing resume: Kentucky Derby winner.

The 68-year-old South Korean horseman looks to have a strong Derby contender in Premier Pegasus, who won the San Felipe at Santa Anita over the weekend by a record-margin 7 3/4 lengths.

A powerful move on the turn for home propelled the 3-year-old colt to an impressive victory over 1-2 favorite Jaycito in the $250,000 race at Santa Anita.

The win was the fourth in five starts for Premier Pegasus, a son of 2000 Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, and moved him to No. 6 in The Associated Press' Run to the Roses Top 10 list of Derby contenders.

"He looked great after the race and we'll take a look at the Santa Anita Derby as the next step," Cho's son, 17-year-old Raxon Cho, said.

After watching replays, he added: "His margin looked even bigger after watching them."

Cho is not new to the Derby scene. A Los Angeles clothing exporter who came to the U.S. in 1978, Cho owned one Derby runner (Video Ranger) and owned and trained another (Nationalore) . In 1990, Video Ranger ran fourth behind Unbridled; Nationalore was ninth behind Real Quiet in 1991.

A solid showing in the Santa Anita Derby on April 9 should send Premier Pegasus to Churchill Downs as one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby on May 7.

Unbeaten Uncle Mo, meanwhile, remained No. 1 following his successful 3-year-old debut, an easy 3 3/4-length victory in the Timely Writer at Gulfstream Park. It was Mo's first race since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November.

"It's the first time in four months that I've taken a deep breath, so it kind of feels good," said Mike Repole, who owns Uncle Mo and No. 5 Stay Thirsty. "When you have the best trainer in the world and he tells you how good this horse is, you've got to trust him."

Todd Pletcher trains both of Repole's Derby prospects as well as Brethen, who dropped to No. 10 from No. 2 following a third-place finish behind a pair of long shots in the Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday.

Uncle Mo is likely headed to the Wood Memorial on April 9 at Aqueduct, with Gotham winner Stay Thirsty set for the Florida Derby on April 3 at Gulfstream. There's a possibility, though, plans could change for both horses.

--Tampa Bay Derby winner Watch Me Go, who won at odds of 43-1, moves onto the Derby scene for owner Gibert G. Campbell.

"I'm sure right now he's thinking roses," trainer Kathy O'Connell said.

--The Derby future wager moved into Pool 2 with Uncle Mo improving to the 3-1 favorite. The mutuel field -- all the horses nominated that are not among the 23 individual betting interests -- is next at 7-2.

--This weekend's Derby prep is the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, featuring top prospects The Factor, J.P.'s Gusto and Sway Away.

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1. Uncle Mo (Todd Pletcher, trainer; John Velazquez, jockey): What a relief! Easy 3 3/4-length win in Timely Writer in 3-year-old debut ups Mo's mark to 4-0. ... Son of Indian Charlie has won his races by a combined 27 lengths. ... Next start: Wood Memorial (April 9, Aqueduct, dirt). ... Derby future wager odds (pool 2): 3-1.

2. Soldat (Kiaran McLaughlin, Alan Garcia): Fountain of Youth winner worked 4 furlongs in 48.90 seconds Sunday at Palm Meadows. ... Son of War Front takes two-race win streak into next start. ... Next start: Florida Derby (April 3, Gulfstream, dirt). ... Odds: 13-1.

3. Mucho Macho Man (Kathy Ritvo, Rajiv Maragh): The Village People are fans! Worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 Saturday at Gulfstream. ... Risen Star winner heading back to New Orleans for final prep before trip to Louisville. ... Next start: Louisiana Derby (March 26, Fair Grounds, dirt). ... Odds: 29-1.

4. The Factor (Bob Baffert, Martin Garcia): San Vicente winner worked 6 furlongs in 1:12.20 Saturday at Santa Anita. ... Baffert wants speedy gray colt to win next race before committing to Derby. ... Next start: Rebel (Saturday, Oaklawn Park, dirt). ... Odds: 32-1.

5. Stay Thirsty (Pletcher, Ramon Dominguez): Gotham winner gives owner Mike Repole a second Derby horse along with Uncle Mo. ... Has two wins and two seconds in five career starts. ... Next start: Florida Derby. ... Odds: 25-1.

6. Premier Pegasus (Myung Kwon Cho, Alonso Quinonez): Surprise winner of San Felipe in record style, by 7 3/4 lengths. ... Son of '00 Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus has won four of five starts. ... Next start: Santa Anita Derby (April 9, Santa Anita, dirt). ... Odds: 7-2 (mutuel field).

7. Santiva (Eddie Kenneally, Shaun Bridgmohan): Worked 5 furlongs in 1:02.00 Saturday at Palm Meadows. ... Risen Star runner-up to wait another month for final Derby prep. ... Next start: Blue Grass (April 16, Keeneland, Polytrack). ... Odds: 31-1.

8. To Honor and Serve (Bill Mott, Velazquez): Worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 Sunday at Payson Park. ... High hopes remain despite finishing well-beaten third in Fountain of Youth in 3-year-old debut. ... Next start: Florida Derby. ... Odds: 14-1.

9. Jaycito (Baffert, Mike Smith): Well-beaten second in San Felipe in first start for Baffert. ... Was 18 lengths back at one point. ... Next start: Santa Anita Derby. ... Odds: 16-1.

10. Brethren (Pletcher, Dominguez): Faded to third as 1-2 favorite in Tampa Bay Derby after rough trip. ... Next start: Undecided. ... Odds: 30-1.

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Keep an eye on: Anthony's Cross, Dialed In, Flashpoint, J.P.'s Gusto, Sway Away.

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