‘He Covers A Lot Of Ground’: Baffert Compares Travers Contender Uncle Chuck To Arrogate

Though the bottom side of Uncle Chuck’s pedigree suggests he might prefer one turn, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is sending the 3-year-old son of Uncle Mo east to contest the 1 1/4-mile G1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga this Saturday.

“One of the reasons I bought him, when I saw him, he’s an Uncle Mo with all speed in there, but if you look at him he just doesn’t look it,” Baffert said on Tuesday’s NTRA teleconference. “He was big, tall, lanky, not like a typical Uncle Mo… He’s got the body of a two-turn horse.”

A $250,000 yearling at the Keeneland September sale, Uncle Chuck went to Barry Eisaman for his early training. Baffert specifically told Eisaman not to rush the big colt, that he didn’t plan to run him at two. In fact, Uncle Chuck didn’t debut until June of his 3-year-old year, winning his first start over a mile at Santa Anita by seven lengths. In his second start, the colt posted a four-length win over stablemate Thousand Words in the G3 Los Alamitos Derby.

“A horse like Uncle Chuck, he would never have run in the (Kentucky) Derby, but now he’s got a chance,” Baffert said, referring to Churchill Downs’ decision to delay the Run for the Roses to Sept. 5. “We just let him grow into himself, the same thing that happened with Arrogate.”

It isn’t the first time Baffert has compared Uncle Chuck to Arrogate, the record-setting Travers winner of 2016.

“I really think with his stride, he covers a lot a ground,” said Baffert. “The ground that he covers reminds me of Arrogate. He handles it well, doesn’t get tired.”

There are questions left to be answered, however. Uncle Chuck will be shipping across the country to for the first time in his short career, and he’ll be facing a tough group of more experienced rivals, including likely favorite, the Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law.

“I’ve been very impressed with (Tiz the Law),” Baffert said. “They have managed him well and picked the right spots with him. I think he has progressed perfectly. He definitely is the best 3-year-old in the country right now. I’ll get an idea if I can run with him or not. It is going to be exciting, but we’re hoping we are as good as he is, that is why we are going over there.”

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