Mike Repole owns both Stay Thirsty and Derby favorite, Uncle Mo. Todd Pletcher trains both and has worked the pair in tandem their last three workouts. Prior to Saturday, both Stay Thirsty’s and Uncle Mo's last race was the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last November where Stay Thirsty finished fifth behind Uncle Mo. Before that race and ever since, Uncle Mo has been the talk of the town and was even honored with the 2010 Eclipse Award for top two year old male. With all the attention on Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty has become the kid brother hiding in the shadows, trying to make a name for himself and garner his own headline without the words "Uncle Mo" and "stablemate." He finally did that Saturday with an impressive win in the $250,000 Grade 3 Gotham Stakes.
Stay Thirsty finished 3 ¼ lengths in front of Norman Asbjornson, who was another length in front of Toby’s Corner. Completing the field were Nacho Saint, The Fed Eased, Isn't He Perfect, and Starship Caesar. Preachintothedevil and Dawly were scratched prior to the race.
Stay Thirsty ran a good race despite a somewhat troubled trip which included bumping the gate at the start, going three or four wide around the turns, and brushing Norman Asbjornson at the top of the stretch. He certainly didn't look like a professional in this race, but he did look like he had improved since last year and should be able to polish up his style before Derby.
Longshot Norman Asbjornson maintained second place the entire race and seemed to just keep the same steady pace throughout. At this point, he’s a mystery to me. I’m not sure that he’s Derby material, but his consistent pace and staying power suggest he may become a good distance horse, so throw him into your exotics if he makes the Belmont Stakes.
Second choice, Toby's Corner, looked like he was going to go after Stay Thirsty and give fans the stretch dual they were waiting for, but then just seemed to flatten out as he was getting ready to catch the second place finisher, Norman Asbjornson. Toby's Corner won the Whirlaway Stakes on the same track at the same distance, so neither distance nor surface could have been his problem. Maybe he just had a bad race and we should toss this one and look for a better performance next time out. Fourth place finisher Nacho Saint appeared to get squeezed in on the rail at the top of the stretch which halted his momentum. I'd like to see if he can improve if put in a different position in his next race.
Saturday will be a busy day on the Derby trail, with the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita, the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs, and the ungraded Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream Park where Uncle Mo will make his three-year-old debut.
Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Derby