By Jon Forbes | 07/01/2011 05:58 PM ET
If Overdriven’s debut victory at Belmont Park on Friday is any indication, owner Mike Repole will be a frequent winner’s circle visitor following the New York 2-year-old races over the next few months.
Favored at 3-5 against four other first-time starters, Overdriven bobbled at the start, checked slightly as J C’s Pride cut over to the rail and dashed to a clear lead, cut the deficit to a length with three furlongs left, and dispatched that rival in midstretch en route to a 3 ½-length victory under John Velazquez. It was 13 lengths back to Big Creek in third.
The final time of 56.42 for five furlongs is the fastest of seven races, all restricted to 2-year-olds, held at the distance so far during the spring/summer meet.
Overdriven – purchased for $350,000 by Crupi’s New Castle Farm, agent for Repole Stable, at last year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale – is by King’s Bishop victor Tale of the Cat and is out of the French Deputy mare Air France, who won a pair of races. He is a half-brother to Smooth Air, who took the Grade 2 Hutcheson, Grade 2 Ohio Derby, and Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, finished second in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, and earned $1.1 million. Another half-sibling, Super Phoebe, won nine races in Puerto Rico between the ages of 2 and 3 and earned $57,551.
“I had my team out there [at the sale]: Ed Rosen, my pedigree guy, Jim Martin, my racing manager, and Jimmy Crupi, who picks out my yearlings,” said Repole. “I looked at the [catalog] page, they looked at everything else. I saw he was a half to Smooth Air. The mare was never bred to anything more than a $5,000 sire. This is the first foal from when she was bred to a proven stallion. I saw the mare was a producer with unproven stallions.”
Repole said Overdriven ranks well among the score of juveniles he has placed in the hands of trainer Todd Pletcher. Included in the group is Zow, who debuted a two-length winner against New York-breds later on Friday’s card.
“Out of my yearlings of 2010, I paid $350,000 for two of them,” said Repole. “[Overdriven] is one. Of course these horses don’t know what they cost, but right now it looks like he’s worth $350,000. Todd has had this horse since May. I sent Todd twenty 2-year-olds, and this is one in the top five. We are very fortunate to have a nice crop this year. This is a good way to start the 2-year-old season. We have some nice bullets, and this is the one who was ready early.”
Repole said the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga Race Course on July 24 is a possibility for Overdriven.
“We will see how the horse is doing and Todd and I will decide,” said Repole.
Overdriven will attempt to follow in the footsteps of fellow New York Watch member and Repole Stable representative Uncle Mo, who was named last year’s Champion 2-Year-Old Colt after breaking his maiden by 14 ¼-lengths at Saratoga, winning the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont, and capturing the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs.