Todd Pletcher, who has won three of the last seven editions of the Sanford (gr. II), will have another strong chance when he sends out impressive maiden winner Overdriven July 24 at Saratoga.
Owned by Mike Repole, Saratoga’s leading owner at last year’s Saratoga meet, Overdriven romped by 3 1/2 lengths in his debut July 1 at Belmont Park. The son of Tale of the Catcovered five furlongs in :56.42 while earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure that day, making him the horse to beat in the $150,000 race for juveniles. The six-furlong Sanford, which drew a field of eight, will go to post at 5:20 p.m. EDT.
Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, Repole bought Overdriven for $350,000 at the Keeneland September 2010 yearling sale. He is out of the French Deputy mare Air France. Repole, who has 25 2-year-olds in training this year—18 of them with Pletcher—said Overdriven was not a standout when he was being broken on Jimmy Crupi’s Ocala, Fla., farm this winter, but has developed quickly.
“He was no Uncle Mo,” said Repole, the owner of last year’s juvenile champion, "but (Uncle Mo) was 10 lengths better than everyone else the first time we saw him; that was easy to see. Todd said we don’t have an Uncle Mo or Stay Thirsty in this bunch, but we really have a well-balanced group this year. Overdriven happened to be ready first and we really like him.
“He only broke his maiden by 3 1/2 but he was about 18 lengths clear of the third-place horse and finished up in :56 and change with a 100 Beyer. Uncle Mo ran a 102 Beyer in his first race. In no way am I comparing him to Uncle Mo, but I don’t know too many horses that run triple-digit Beyers in their first race. We like our chances.”
Overdriven, who worked five furlongs in :59 1/5 July 18 at Saratoga, drew post 6 and will be ridden by John Velazquez. He was made the 3-5 morning-line choice.
Pletcher has won the Sanford four times overall, beginning with More Than Ready in 1999 and most recently with Ready’s Image in 2007.
The morning-line favorite and 121-pound high weight is Skeedattle Stable’s Jack's in the Deck, a 14-1 upsetter in the July 3 Futurity (gr. II) at Belmont. The son of Love of Money ran six furlongs in 1:13.36 that day to win by four lengths. Tarpy's Goal, who finished third in the Futurity, is also back for the Sanford.
Jack’s in the Deck finished second in his May 25 debut at Delaware Park. Bred in Maryland, he is based at Laurel Park with trainer Robin Graham. Ramon Dominguez will take over riding duties and they will break from the outside post.
“He’s been doing great since the race, and I think he learned some stuff from that,” said Graham. “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.”
Tarpy’s Goal, a 2 3/4-length maiden winner at Churchill Downs in May, was sent off as the 8-5 favorite in the Futurity, his stakes debut. The son of High Cotton drew the rail this time.
“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.
Trainer Wesley Ward, who specializes in 2-year-olds, will send out a pair with Black Rhino and Bless the Soldier. Supplemented to the Sanford, Black Rhino broke his maiden by eight lengths on the Churchill Downs turf course in June when going wire-to-wire under Robby Albarado. The gelded son of El Corredor was third in his May 14 debut on the Churchill main track. Albarado will keep the mount.
Bless the Soldier, a gelded son of Belong to Me, tallied in his front-running debut May 29 on the Woodbine Polytrack when sent off as the odds-on favorite. Ward also owns Bless the Solder, who will be ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez.
The Sanford will be followed on the Saratoga calendar by the Three Chimneys Saratoga Special (gr. II) on Aug. 15 and the Three Chimneys Hopeful (gr. I) on Sept. 5.
$150,000 Sanford Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 5:20 p.m.), 2YO, 6 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Tarpy's Goal (FL), J Castellano, 119, D L Romans
2. Moonrush (KY), C H Velasquez, 117, D W Lukas
3. Maan (KY), J R Leparoux, 119, E Kenneally
4. Black Rhino (KY), R Albarado, 119, W A Ward
5. Bless the Soldier (KY), J Sanchez, 119, W A Ward
6. Overdriven (KY), J R Velazquez, 119, T A Pletcher
7. Power World (KY), E S Prado, 119, N J Howard
8. Jack's in the Deck (MD), R A Dominguez, 121, R L Graham