By Bill Oppenheim
The big question about Uncle Mo isn’t how he compares with his contemporaries–other North American and European sires with first foals 2013–but rather how he compares to the top sires of yesteryear. Comparing him to other F2013 sires, he has been devastating: he was not only Leading Freshman Sire of 2015, with earnings three times that of his nearest pursuer, Twirling Candy, he was actually North America and Europe’s overall Leading Sire of 2-Year-Olds, with 2015 two-year-old progeny earnings over $3.7-million. These included seven Black-Type Winners (BTW) and 11 Black-Type Horses (BTH). He even foiled the same farm’s (Ashford) Scat Daddy, who had nine 2-year-old BTW in 2015 (six GSW) and otherwise would have been Leading North American Sire of 2-Year-Olds for sure.
Now, still less than three months into 2016, Uncle Mo has just been steaming ahead. After Thrilled’s win Sunday in the $200,000 Plum Pretty S. at Sunland Park, he already has six BTW and 15 BTH this year, and his progeny earnings of over $1.6-million in the first twelve weeks of the year are nearly double those of Twirling Candy, who is again second. So that answers the question of whether they’re just 2-year-olds. Cumulatively Uncle Mo is now the sire of 11 BTW and 20 BTH – at good tracks, too – from 152 named foals.
If he had those percentages at the end of the year he’d be a top young sire; to have them after just a fifth of the year: deeply impressive.
So how does Uncle Mo compare to the stars of yesteryear? Louisville native, University of Kentucky Ph.D. graduate, and now U. of Montana Business School Associate Professor Dr. Emily Plant compiled this list of 10 top North American sires with first foals 1998-2008 to see how Uncle Mo compared, at least at the end of 2015. Of the 11 sires we looked at, Uncle Mo does have the biggest initial foal crop, with 152 named foals of 2013; surprisingly, though, two other sires had initial foal crops of similar size. Giant’s Causeway had 149 foals in his first crop, sired at Coolmore in Ireland before he was transferred to Kentucky; and Medaglia D’Oro’s first crop, sired at Hill ’n’ Dale before he went to Stonewall (and then Darley), contained 145 foals. Giant’s Causeway’s second crop, incidentally–his first at Ashford–had 157 foals, but Medaglia D’Oro’s second crop numbered 96 foals, which is a more ‘normal’ drop from the first crop to the second. Uncle Mo has the same number of foals–96–in his second crop.
Uncle Mo’s five individual A Runners from his first crop of 2-year-olds in 2015 equals the number tallied by two of our other top ten sires, Bernardini and Candy Ride, and his two G1G2 winners (in his case, both Grade I winners), tied him in that category with four others: Distorted Humor, Giant’s Causeway, Tapit, and Bernardini. In neither category did any horse sire more A Runners nor G1G2 winners than Uncle Mo as a freshman sire. We don’t have a way to measure sires’ totals three months into the first year their 3-year-olds were running, but by the end of that year five of the other ten sires had notched up 10 or more A Runners: Speightstown (14), Medaglia D’Oro (13), Tapit (11), Giant’s Causeway and Bernardini 10 each. While we don’t necessarily equate A Runners and Black-Type Winners, the numbers are usually pretty close. As mentioned Uncle Mo is already up to 11 BTW, so the chances that he will break the 21st-century record with 15 individual first-crop A Runners by the end of the year, which is, after all, more than nine months away.
One very significant aspect of Uncle Mo’s dramatic success is that he traces in male line to Caro, which is the Grey Sovereign branch of the Nasrullah sire line, and he is out of a mare by Arch, which is Roberto via Kris S. Therefore Uncle Mo in that respect is an outcross to both Northern Dancer (he does have three crosses of Northern Dancer, though in his fourth and fifth generations) and Raise a Native (Mr. Prospector), and is only very distantly related to the A.P. Indy line, which traces to Nasrullah through Bold Ruler and Seattle Slew. Uncle Mo is working with all of these. As Andrew Caulfield pointed out in a recent column (click here), ‘Mo’ is working very well with the Fappiano line, which has supplied the dams of five of his BTH, including Grade III winners Uncle Vinny (dam by Untuttable, by Unbridled) and Mo Tom (dam by Rubiano); GII Tampa Bay Derby second Outwork (dam by Empire Maker); and Black Type-Placed Uncle Walter (dam by Unbridled’s Song, so inbred 5×4 to Caro) and Mo For The Money (also Unbridled’s Song). He has four BTH out of Storm Cat-line mares, including the undefeated Champion 2-Year-Old Nyquist (dam by Forestry) and three other BTW: the aforementioned Thrilled (dam by Giant’s Causeway); Aqueduct’s Busher S. winner Mo D’Amour (dam by Scat Daddy); and Aqueduct Restricted BTW Clipthecouponannie (dam by Giant’s Causeway’s brother, Freud).
Uncle Mo also has three BTH out of Mr. Prospector-line mares; all three in fact trace to Gone West including GI Alcibiades winner Gomo and Laurel BTW Lost Raven, both out of mares by Elusive Quality; and Laoban (dam by Speightstown, by Gone West), who has been twice Grade III-placed. Indian Charlie himself loved Mr. Prospector, having produced 16 of his 55 A Runners–nearly 30%–out of Mr. Prospector-line mares. Indian Charlie also got on well with the Fappiano line (who was by Mr. Prospector but branched off to his own line), which as noted above has already produced five BTH by Uncle Mo. The Roberto line is responsible for two of Uncle Mo’s A Runners (one by Dynaformer, one by Lear Fan); and the Seattle Slew line also has two A Runners by Uncle Mo. So he is working with all the major American lines. Interestingly, Giant’s Causeway, who in some ways got to be a freshman sire two years running because of changing countries, had a whopping eight G1G2 winners at the end of the year his first 3-year-olds ran; Distorted Humor, War Front, and Bernardini had four G1G2 winners each. Uncle Mo has the two Grade I winners from last year, Nyquist and Gomo, so far, but for example, has three runners in the GII Louisiana Derby this coming weekend, including co-favorite Mo Tom, winner of the GIII Lecomte S. and an arguably unlucky third in the GII Risen Star. In terms of the North American sire ranks, there is no doubt that a new star sire has arrived.