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Overdriven Overpowers Opponents in Sanford
By New York Racing Association
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Overdriven lived up to his role as the 3-10 favorite in Sunday afternoon’s Grade 2, $150,000 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, taking command on the far turn and pulling clear to a four-length victory, his second win in as many starts.
The Tale of the Cat colt – whose impressive 100 Beyer Speed Figure debut at Belmont Park on July 1 stamped him as a 2-year-old to be reckoned with – was positioned just off longshot Black Rhino by jockey John Velazquez as he led through an opening quarter in 22.40 and a half-mile in 45.67. Moving up on even terms rounding the far turn, Overdriven grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch and was never threatened as he galloped under the wire in 1:10.60 for the six furlongs.
“We felt like we had the best horse going in, but when you’re in situations like this, everyone knows what can happen in Saratoga and the history of upsets, so you don’t take anything for granted,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains Overdriven for Mike Repole. “I’m just happy he broke cleanly and put himself in a good spot. Johnny said he idled a little bit, kind of waiting on horses when he made the lead, but it was a real professional performance.”
Overdriven, who paid $2.60 for a $2 win bet, earned $90,000 and has now bankrolled $126,000 for Repole, who bought him for $350,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sales.
Run for the 97th time, the Sanford marked the first graded stakes victory at Saratoga for Repole, who was leading owner at the 2010 meet with 13 wins.
“Two years ago, before I met Todd Pletcher, I was 0-for-36 here and I know that because he reminds me every day,” said Repole. “Last year, we had 13 wins, Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty broke their maidens here … it’s a special place. Last year, Uncle Mo was the best 2-year-old in the country and as of July 24, Overdriven is the best 2-year-old in the country.”
Following the win, Repole was asked if Overdriven could be another Uncle Mo, who broke his maiden last year at the Spa for the Pletcher-Repole team and went on to win the Eclipse Award as the nation’s top 2-year-old male.
“Pretty nice horse last year, and pretty nice horse so far this year,” said Repole. “[But] there’s only one Uncle Mo. And there’s one Overdriven.”
Pletcher said the next logical spot for Overdriven would be the Grade 1 Three Chimneys Hopeful at Saratoga on closing day, Monday, September 5.
“It’s good spacing, and we ran him back a little quicker than we normally would after his maiden win because we wanted to get this race in and we’d get better spacing to, hopefully, the Hopeful,” said the trainer, who previously won the Sanford with Ready’s Image (2007), Scat Daddy (2006), Chapel Royal (2003) and More Than Ready (1999). “Hopefully, the Champagne after that would be what we’re thinking long term.”
Second-place finisher Power World, sent off as the 5-1 second choice by the crowd of 18,791, was three lengths clear of Grade 2 Futurity winner Jack’s in the Deck, who in turn was followed under the wire by Black Rhino, Moonrush, and Tarpy’s Goal. Bless the Soldier, who reared in the gate and unseated jockey Jeffrey Sanchez, was a late scratch, with Maan having been scratched earlier in the day.