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
“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,
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.