Celestial City (Uncle Mo) Wins Gr.2 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont @Aqueduct

Uncle Mo Colt Secures First Stakes Win in G2 Hill Prince

Stuart Janney homebred Celestial City (3c Uncle Mo x Lunar Evening, by Malibu Moon) secured his first career stakes victory on Saturday with a win in the Grade II Hill Prince Stakes.

The colt stumbled at the break of the 1 1/8 mile turf race at Aqueduct and had to take up a place at the back of the field, where Jose Lezcano asked him to relax. As they raced into the last stages of the backstretch run, Celestial City moved closer as he kept his spot on the rail.

Celestial City had to give that spot up around the turn for clear running room and that proved to be a successful move as he closed strongly to take over from American Pharoah’s Mackinnon in the final sixteenth. The best of the rest of the field, Mackinnon would ultimately settle for second as Celestial City pulled away to a 2 ¼ length victory.

Trained by Shug McGaughey, this is the fourth stakes placing in four stakes starts for the colt, who has only finished off the board twice in his nine-start career. He was also second in this year’s Grade III Saranac Stakes at Saratoga and the Grade II National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes one start before that.

“The [Grade I] Hollywood Derby [is possible]. I’m not ready to stop as long as he’s saying ‘Go.' I hadn’t thought about his future, but I’ll give it some thought now after seeing him run today,” said McGaughey.

Celestial City is out of a winning half-sister to Grade I winner Hymn Book with the pair hailing from a stakes winning sister to the dam of Grade I winner Data Link. This is also the family of Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Caledonia Road as well.

Celestial City is the 11th stakes winner of the year for Uncle Mo, seventh among all North American sires in 2022. The stallion’s 35 stakes performers this year puts him second on the list behind Into Mischief with just over half the number of runners of that stallion.