September 26, 2023

Overdriven makes it look easy in Sanford

Last updated: 7/24/11 6:34 PM

Overdriven is eliciting comparisons to Uncle Mo
(Melissa Wirth/

Repole Stable’s OVERDRIVEN (Tale of the Cat) justified the hype
surrounding his debut victory with a convincing display in Sunday’s

Sanford S. (G2)
at Saratoga. By dusting Bashford Manor S. (G3)
runner-up Power World (Distorted Humor) and Futurity S. (G2) winner
Jack’s in the Deck (Love of Money), the Todd Pletcher pupil vaulted to
pro tem leadership of the juvenile division in the East.

Overdriven turned heads with his 3 1/2-length maiden romp on July 1
at Belmont Park, where he sizzled five furlongs in :56 2/5. As a result,
the brawny bay was hammered into 1-5 favoritism for the Sanford, and he
didn’t give his fans any cause for concern in the historic test.

“We felt like we had the best horse going in,” Pletcher said, “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. I’m just happy he broke cleanly and put himself in a good

With John Velazquez back in the saddle, Overdriven forced the early pace set
by Black Rhino (El Corredor) through an opening quarter in :22 2/5 on the fast
track. The odds-on favorite ranged up alongside the leader on the far turn and
took command through a half in :45 3/5.

The rest was a Sunday stroll down the lane as Overdriven skipped clear,
getting five furlongs in :57 4/5 en route to completing six furlongs in 1:10
3/5. The four-length winner returned $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10.

“He’s still a little green,” Velazquez said. “When he gets to the lead, he
gets to waiting a little bit. At Belmont, he had competition all the way to the
eighth-pole and kind of drew away with the other horse. Here he took the lead a
little bit early and he started waiting. He was running well enough; I didn’t
want to hit him. I just showed the whip to keep his mind on running.”

Power World, who had raced in third much of the way, stayed on best of the
others to finish a promising second by three lengths. Jack’s in the Deck got up
from last for third, a half-length ahead of Black Rhino. At long intervals came
Moonrush (Malibu Moon) and Tarpy’s Goal (High Cotton). Bless the Soldier (Belong
to Me) was scratched by the veterinarian after acting up in the gate, while Maan
(Malibu Moon) was withdrawn earlier.

Now a perfect two-for-two, Overdriven has bankrolled $126,000. The impressive
start to his career has drawn the inevitable comparisons to stablemate Uncle Mo
(Indian Charlie), last year’s champion two-year-old colt.

“Uncle Mo a year ago was a maiden,” Pletcher said. “He was a month away from
debuting, but we knew he was a pretty special colt at this point. (Overdriven)
is two-for-two now and he’s obviously a very mature two-year-old, physically and
mentally, precocious and gifted with some natural talent.”

“Here we go again, man,” owner Mike Repole enthused. “Pretty nice horse last
year (Uncle Mo), and pretty nice horse so far this year. There’s only one Uncle
Mo. And there’s one Overdriven.

“This is the best place in the country. Saratoga is the Fenway Park of horse
racing. So much prestige.

“Last year, Uncle Mo was the best two-year-old in the country and as of July
24, Overdriven is the best two-year-old in the country.”

Bred by Mount Joy Stables in Kentucky, Overdriven first brought $200,000 as a
Keeneland November weanling. He went to his current connections for $350,000 as
a Keeneland September yearling.

Overdriven was produced by the winning French Deputy mare Air France, making
him a half-brother to multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire Smooth Air (Smooth
Jazz). Hero of the Gulfstream Park H. (G2), Hutcheson S. (G2) and Ohio Derby
(G2), Smooth Air also finished runner-up in such events as the Florida Derby
(G1) and Metropolitan H. (G1). Air France’s youngest progeny are an unnamed
yearling colt by Curlin and a 2011 colt by Pulpit.

Overdriven’s second dam, multiple stakes victress Twin Propeller (Known
Fact), is herself a half-sister to Grade 2 queen Penny’s Reshoot (Turkey Shoot)
as well as stakes winners and graded stakes producers Daimon (Strike Gold) and
Hope Rises (Mr. Greeley). This is the family of Grade 2 scorers Justwhistledixie
(Dixie Union) and Chace City (Carson City), and at a further remove, reigning
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) winner Shared Account (Pleasantly Perfect). 

Pletcher has mapped out an itinerary for Overdriven.

“I’m sure the Hopeful ([G1] at seven furlongs on September 5) is the logical
next goal,” the trainer said. “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.

“Hopefully, the Champagne ([G1] at one mile at Belmont Park on October 8)
after that would be what we’re thinking long term.”