Pletcher’s 3-year-old stars looking sharp

It’s time to grow up a little bit more for Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo.

It’s time to grow up a little bit more for Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo.

Both 3-year-old colts will face older horses for the first time on Super Saturday at Belmont Park this weekend, which serves up imp­ortant final Breeders’ Cup preps all over the country.

Stay Thirsty will run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on a card that features five Grade I races and six “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup qualifiers.

His stablemate, 2010 2-year-old champion Uncle Mo, will run in the one-mile Kelso.

Trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole face an afternoon sim­ilar to Travers Day at Saratoga Race Course, when Stay Thirsty won the big race and Uncle Mo just missed in the King’s Bishop in his comeback race from over four months off with a liver disease.

Although Uncle Mo was caught at the wire by Caleb’s Posse, Pletcher said he believes the race ind­icated that Uncle Mo is back.

Both of his top 3-year-olds have been working lights-out ever since.

“I’m confident because they’re both doing extremely well,” Pletcher said during a national teleconference on Tuesday. “I’ve been very pleased with their breezes. Anytime you go against older horses for the first time, it’s a new challenge, but we’re doing it with two horses who are in excellent form.”

Super Saturday entries will be drawn today.

ESPN Classic will televise racing from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on Saturday, including live broadcast of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Kelso and Beldame from Belmont and the Lady’s Secret, Goodwood and

either the Yellow Ribbon or Norfolk from Santa Anita.

Many of the stars of racing will be in action somewhere this weekend, except for Met Mile and Whitney winner Tizway, who missed a workout because of a fever last week and won’t go in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He’ll train up to the BC Classic.

He breezed five furlongs in 1:01.44 on Tuesday at the Oklahoma training track in Saratoga Springs.

Expected to run in the Beldame are Havre de Grace and Alabama winner Royal Delta.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup card also includes the Vosburgh, toward which top sprinter Trappe Shot has been pointing; the Flower Bowl, which Mechanicville native Chad Brown is expected to use for Stac­elita’s BC prep; and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational.

Blind Luck is scheduled to run in the Lady’s Secret at Santa Anita. Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said on Tuesday that she’ll target the BC Ladies’ Classic instead of the Classic.

It’s Tricky, Plum Pretty and Buster’s Ready are entered in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion at Parx, and the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park is likely to draw Preakness winner Shackleford and Caleb’s Posse.

Besides Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo, Pletcher will have Life At Ten in the Beldame and Caixa Eletronica and Calibrachoa in the Vosburgh.

“I think this weekend and the following weekend are so pivotal,” Pletcher said. “At this stage, everything seems wide open, but after you run the preps, things could be a lot clearer. So many things can still change between now and the Breeders’ Cup, it’s hard to identify who the leaders are.”

Pletcher said that there’s a good chance Stay Thirsty will be the favorite in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

By winning the Jim Dandy and Travers, he has taken control of a topsy-turvy 3-year-old division, stepping out of the shadow of his more-ballyhooed stablemate in the process.

“The thing he’s done is make his own resume,” Pletcher said. “The Jim Dandy certainly was a big step in that direction, and when you add the Travers, I don’t think the horse has to take a back seat to anybody. He’s established himself, right now, as the 3-year-old leader. He’s trying older horses, which is a big step.”

Quick workout

Uncle Mo, meanwhile, is pointing toward the BC Dirt Mile.

He has breezed three times since the King’s Bishop, ripping a :46.57 on Sunday that was the fastest of 80 at the distance on the Belmont training track.

“He’s certainly training awfully well,” Pletcher said. “I thought he was doing well before the King’s Bishop, and he ran a good race off the bench. The three works since then have been even better, and we’re back at Belmont, where he won the Champagne last year. He’s going against older horses for the first time, and you don’t know what the post positions are going to be, but, like always, I expect him to go over there and run well.”

Life At Ten won the Beldame last year after having a six-race winning streak stopped with a third to Persistently and Rachel Alexandra in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga.

After the Beldame, she became a center of controversy at the Breeders’ Cup, when she was lethargic in the post parade and was jogged around the track by John Velazquez as the favorite in the Ladies’ Classic.

Pletcher said she mysteriously tied up before the race, and he still isn’t sure why.

She’s lost all four starts this season, most recently a third 181⁄2 lengths behind the remarkable stretch duel between Blind Luck and Havre de Grace in the Del­aware Handicap.

Life At Ten will wear blinkers for the first time.

“I’m not sure why older horses tail off sometimes,” Pletcher said. “Was it a residual hangover from the Breeders’ Cup episode? I don’t know. But we don’t have a horse in the barn who looks better than she does right now.

“One thing we did was, we will add blinkers for this race. We tried it in training, and it seemed to refuel her enthusiasm. So we’ll try that for the first time.”

Pletcher’s other two top females, Molly Pitcher winner Quiet Giant and Super Espresso, are nominated to the Beldame, but will likely run in the Spinster at Keeneland next weekend instead.

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