Race of the Week 2017

Highly Regarded Overdriven Strong Sanford Favorite

Photo: Coglinese
Impressive maiden winner Overdriven and seven other promising juveniles will go postward Sunday afternoon in the 97th running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Sanford, the first of three open graded stakes on Saratoga Race Course’s main track that traditionally serve as proving grounds for the nation’s top 2-year-olds.


“Primarily, it’s the first major stepping-stone in the division in the United States,” said trainer Wesley Ward, who has entered recent maiden winners Black Rhino and Bless the Soldier in the six-furlong race, which is followed on the calendar by the Grade 2 Three Chimneys Saratoga Special on August 15 and the Grade 1 Three Chimneys Hopeful on September 5. “It’s a race that gives you a good feel for quality, and it’s where you start separating the men from the boys.”


Heavily favored in the Sanford is Mike Repole’s Overdriven, whose 3 ½-length maiden victory in 56.32 at Belmont Park earned him a Beyer Speed Figure of 100, tops among 2-year-olds this year. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt has been training forwardly since then, including a five-furlong work on July 18 in 59.32, second-fastest of 15 at the distance.


“He had a good breeze over the track, and we’re excited about running in the Sanford,” said Pletcher of the Tale of the Cat colt, purchased for $350,000 at the Keeneland September sales. “He’s a big, strong colt who carries plenty of conditioning, and we justly believe he can move forward off that race.”


John Velazquez has the mount on the 3-5 morning-line favorite from post position 6.


Returning for his second stakes sojourn is Power World, a closing second to Exfactor in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs on July 2.


“I think at this stage they’re all pretty much in the same boat, making their second or third starts, and all pretty good races,” said trainer Neil Howard, whose Power World is the 5-1 second choice in the Sanford. “My horse ran a pretty good maiden race off a troubled start [rallying from 11 lengths back to win a 4 ½-furlong race by a length] and he closed nicely in the Bashford Manor to finish second to a very nice horse. He’s definitely a horse who seems like he’ll be much better suited when he stretches out later on.”


Hall of Famer Edgar Prado rides the Distorted Humor colt from post position 7.


The Sanford, included on the resumes of such champions as Afleet Alex, Maria’s Mon, and Secretariat, also drew the first and third-place finishers from the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont on July 3, its new date on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) calendar.


“He’s been doing great since the race, and I think he learned some stuff from that,” said Robin Graham, trainer of Jack’s in the Deck, who came from third en route to his four-length victory. “This group seems pretty evenly matched as far as maturity goes. But as they get older and the races get longer, I think he’s going to like that even more.”


Ramon Dominguez will ride Jack’s in the Deck, who will leave from the outside and was listed at 10-1 on the morning line, while Tarpy’s Goal, the beaten favorite in the Futurity, drew the rail under Javier Castellano and was tabbed at 12-1.


“He ran a little green in the Futurity, but he’s been training well and we thought we’d give him another shot in a graded stakes,” said trainer Dale Romans of Tarpy’s Goal, a son of High Cotton.


Rounding out the Sanford field are Moonrush, who will be seeking his first win in three starts, and Maan, who broke his maiden at Churchill Downs on July 3.


The field for the Grade 2, $150,000 Sanford:








Tarpy's Goal (FL)

J Castellano


D L Romans



Moonrush (KY)

C H Velasquez


D W Lukas



Maan (KY)

J R Leparoux


E Kenneally



Black Rhino (KY)

R Albarado


W A Ward



Bless the Soldier (KY)

J Sanchez


W A Ward



Overdriven (KY)

J R Velazquez


T A Pletcher



Power World (KY)

E S Prado


N J Howard



Jack's in the Deck (MD)

R A Dominguez


R L Graham





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Older Comments about Highly Regarded Overdriven Strong Sanford Favorite...

I really like the way he breezed in the Sanford. I think he looks even more impressive than Uncle Mo at this time last year. He rated nicely down the backstretch and coasted home. Looks like he can go a distance. The Racing Form had a nice pic of him crossing the street on the way to the track. This youngster looks professional. Just hope Pletcher doesn't mess him up like he's done to his other stars.

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