Overanalyze has been on the outside looking in at the Kentucky Derby picture since November.
He’ll be on the outside looking in again today, but at least the Remsen winner will finally get into the thick of the Derby trail, as a slight favorite in the Grade III Gotham at Aqueduct.
Overanalyze drew the No. 12 post in the 12-horse field that likely will scratch to 11, and is 5-2 on the morning line in his first start since beating Normandy Invasion in the Remsen on Nov. 1.
His first two career starts for owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher came at Saratoga Race Course, where he broke his maiden before finishing fourth to Shanghai Bobby in the Hopeful.
Although Overanalyze did not make it to the Breeders’ Cup, he had a pretty busy 2-year-old season, winning the Grade II Futurity at Belmont and finishing third behind Uncaptured in the Iroquois before his nice Remsen win.
“I think he had an incredible 2-year-old campaign,” Repole told the New York Racing Association. “Overanalyze’s two graded-stakes wins were very, very impressive. He showed courage and a big heart in coming back to win the Remsen, and those are things you can’t measure.”
In the Remsen, Overanalyze and Normandy Invasion fended of Delhomme, then Overanalyze outbobbed Normandy Invasion in a ferociously contested finish.
The son of Dixie Union took some time off for the winter at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, and has been working steadily for the beginning of his 3-year-old season.
He went 48.75 for four furlongs at Palm Meadows on Monday.
“Todd told me he’s ready,” Repole said. “He’s definitely moved up from 2 to 3, and we’ll find out [today] where he is. It’s been four months, and we’re excited about getting him here.”
At 3-1, Vyjack is the second choice on the morning line, but first in the hearts of many fans at Aqueduct, where he has won all three of his
career starts, most recently the Grade II Jerome, by a head over Siete de Oros, who is back in the Gotham at 15-1.
The Jerome represented the biggest stakes win for Rudy Rodriguez since he became a head trainer in 2010.
“I’m still dreaming,” he said. “It’s a very good feeling. I’m very lucky to have him. The competition is
going to get tougher, so he’ll have to keep stepping up.”
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has three horses entered — Transparent and Now and Then — who are coupled for Darley Stable, and Shadwell Stable’s Elnaawi, although Now and Then likely will scratch for an easier spot during the week. All three broke their maiden at Aqueduct in January.
“Elnaawi won easily last time out,” McLaughlin said. “It’s a big step up, but we think he’s a nice horse. It would be nice to get points and have a chance to run in the Derby.”
The Gotham is worth 50 points to the winner in the Kentucky Derby points system, which is expected to be plenty to qualify for a spot in the Derby starting gate.
Today’s Grade I Santa Anita Handicap features a matchup between Game On Dude and Ron the Greek.
Game On Dude, the 6-5 favorite, won the Big ‘Cap in 2011, but missed it last year, opting instead for the Dubai World Cup, where he was 12th.
He’s won six of seven lifetime starts at Santa Anita.
While Game On Dude was in Dubai, Ron the Greek won the 2012 Big ‘Cap by 31⁄2 lengths.
They’ve faced each other just once, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. Ron the Greek was fourth to Fort Larned, who also beat him in the Whitney, and Game On Dude was 12th.
The field also includes Stephanoatsee, the full brother to Shackleford, and the Doug O’Neill-trained Richard’s Kid, who is winless in five starts since being moved from Bob Baffert’s barn last summer.
The Big ‘Cap undercard includes the Grade I Frank Kilroe Mile and the Grade I Las Virgenes, which carries 50 points to the winner in qualifying for the Kentucky Oaks.
Eclipse Award winner Beholder will make her second 2013 start in the Las Virgenes, which will be a rematch between her and the filly who beat her in the Santa Ynez in January, Renees Titan.
The Gotham card also features the Grade III Tom Fool at six furlongs and the Grade II Top Flight for fillies and mares at a mile and a sixteenth.
California-based Comma to the Top is 3-1 in the Tom Fool off a third in the San Carlos.
Mechanicville native Chad Brown has Summer Applause as the 5-2 favorite in the Top Flight in her first start since coming to his barn.
She won the Rachel Alexandra last year before losing to Believe You Can in the Fair Grounds Oaks and Kentucky Oaks.
The New York-bred Sunny Desert jumps into graded-stakes competition for the first time, while riding a six-race winning streak.
Gulfstream Park has two stakes, the Grade III Swale for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, and the Grade III Herecomesthebride for 3-year-old fillies at nine furlongs on the turf.
Neither is a qualifying race for the Derby/Oaks.
The Swale field includes Undrafted, owned by New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker.
Undrafted is 2-0-3 from five starts, just missing by a half-length in the Hutcheson.
On Sunday at Gulfstream, Charming Kitten is 8-5 in the Palm Beach for 3-year-olds on the turf.
The race was shaping up to be a rematch of the With Anticipation at Saratoga, but Brown’s Balance the Books came down with a temperature and will wait for the Spiral.
Charming Kitten was third in the With Anticipation after breaking his maiden at Saratoga for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
Avare, owned in part by Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino and named after his financial advisor, is the 5-1 co-second choice in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park today.
RACHEL KEEPS IMPROVING
Veterinarians at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., remain pleased with Rachel Alexandra’s progress following abdominal surgery resulting from foaling complications in mid-February.
In a release from Stonestreet Farm on Thursday, Dr. Brett Woodie, who performed the surgery, called her recovery “better than expected.”
Rachel Alexandra’s appetite was good enough that she was taken off IV fluids and nutrition last Saturday.
According to Stonestreet, she continues to hand walk and graze several times a day, and her vital signs are normal “and her trademark spirit has returned, including a nip here and there.”
SO MANY WAYS BACK
So Many Ways, who won the Schuylerville and Spinaway for trainer Tony Dutrow and owner Maggi Moss at Saratoga last year, finally got back to the races on Friday, in the Primal Force Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
So Many Ways finished third as the 3-5 favorite in a field reduced to five by scratches. Javier Castellano rode the filly, who sat fourth most of the trip and had to chance to catch 2-1 winner Fusaichiswonderful (John Velazquez).
So Many Ways was in line to shoot for an Eclipse Award, but Moss decided last September to give her a break instead of sending her to the West Coast to run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Pletcher lost a major contender for the Kentucky Derby when the impressive Violence suffered a career-ending injury last weekend, but Pletcher’s barn remains so well-stocked with Derby candidates that six of his horses are listed among the 24 betting interests for the second pool of Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Derby Future Wager.
Baffert is represented by five horses in Pool 2, which opened for wagering on Friday and will continue through 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia installed the mutuel field, which includes all 3-year-olds other than the pool’s 23 individual horses, as the 3-1 morning-line favorite for Pool 2.
Co-favored among individual horses at 10-1 are Baffert’s Super Ninety Nine and Pletcher’s unbeaten Verrazano.
Reigning 2-year-old champion Shanghai Bobby, San Vicente winner Shakin It Up and Normandy Invasion, trained by Brown, are rated by Battaglia at 15-1.
Along with Shanghai Bobby and Verrazano, Pletcher horses listed in Pool 2 are Revolutionary, Palace Malace, Overanalyze and Delhomme. Besides Super Ninety Nine and Shakin It Up, Baffert has Flashback, Code West and Den’s Legacy.
The “All Others” mutuel field is also the 3-1 favorite for the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager.
The favored individual fillies in Battaglia’s morning line are Pure Fun and Unlimited Budget, at 10-1.
The Oaks Future Wager closes at 6:30 on Sunday.
For the second straight year, NYRA will offer a $100,000 bonus to the connections of any juvenile who breaks his or her maiden during the Aqueduct winter/spring or Belmont Park spring/summer meets and goes on to win a graded stakes at Saratoga Race Course, Belmont or Aqueduct in 2013.
The NYRA Reorganization Board approved the bonus program during its meeting on Wednesday.
“The bonus was a tremendous success last year,” said Rick Violette, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “It generated about 15 additional maiden races at Belmont, and certainly spurred significant interest in NYRA’s 2-year-old program. We’re pleased that NYRA is offering the bonus again this year.”
In 2012, Bern Identity and Shanghai Bobby collected the $100,000 bonus after respectively winning the Grade II Sanford and Grade II Hopeful at Saratoga. Bern Identity broke his maiden on June 1 at Belmont in his second start, and Shanghai Bobby debuted a winner on April 19 at Aqueduct and went on to earn the Eclipse Award.
“New York having a quality 2-year-old racing program is essential to American racing,” said Pletcher, who trains Shanghai Bobby. “It seemed like it had slowed down in recent years in that horses were debuting later in the year, but the bonus program has created a great incentive for horsemen to prepare their horses to run earlier in the year.
“It showed last year when you had a horse like Shanghai Bobby run in April and go on to win the Eclipse. What the bonus has done is assure horsemen there would be plenty of 2-year-old maiden races, which has encouraged them to bring 2-year-olds to New York.”
AROUND THE TRACKS
Jockey Rajiv Maragh returned to riding at Aqueduct on Thursday
after being out since a spill there on New Year’s Eve,
Maragh suffered a slight fracture of the T-3 vertebrae in his back. . . .
The New York-bred Went the Day Well will make his first start since last year’s Preakness in the second race at Aqueduct on Sunday.
He was Spiral winner was fourth in the Kentucky Derby and 10th in the Preakness. . . .
Mucho Macho Man has a minor virus and will not run in the Gulfstream Park Handicap next Saturday.
He won that race last year. . . .
Jimmer, the horse named after Glens Falls native Jimmer Fredette, will make his first start since May 5 in the fifth at Oaklawn Park today.
HERE AND THERE
Jockey Calvin Borel, who was among 10 finalists announced this week for induction into the Racing Hall of Fame, remained at 4,999 career wins after finishing third and fourth in two mounts on Friday’s card at Oaklawn Park. . . .
He’s Had Enough, second to Shanghai Bobby in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and fifth to Orb in the Fountain of Youth, will be sent to Dubai to run in the $2 million UAE Derby at Meydan on March 30.
O’Neill told the Daily Racing Form that they had been invited to the UAE Derby prior to the Fountain of Youth, and accepted. . . .
Trainer Dominic Galluscio posted career victory No. 1,000 on
Feb. 17 when Discreet Force debuted as a neck winner in the seventh race at Aueduct.
Owned by Francis Paolangeli, Discreet Force is by Discreet Cat and completed the distance in 1:14.52.
“It’s just as exciting as the first one,” Galluscio told NYRA. “The last week I was a little slow, I had some seconds and thirds. I thought I had chances, though; they were properly placed and training good.
“I didn’t realize until I was around 980 and somebody told me, ‘You’re approaching a thousand.’ I didn’t even realize it was that many until somebody told me, so, yeah, it is pretty exciting. [My first winner was] right here at Aqueduct on the inner track in 1981.”
Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. has filed a federal lawsuit trying to overturn his 10-year ban from racing in New York for drug violations.
The lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, says the 53-year-old Dutrow has been “irreparably harmed” by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board for what he says is effectively a lifetime ban. Dutrow claims racing officials engaged in “wrongful and malicious actions” against him. He’s seeking $10 million in damages for lost earnings, punitive damages and an order lifting the ban.
Dutrow trained Big Brown to Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes wins in 2008. He recently tied for the training title with 110 victories at Aqueduct, his fourth title at the track where his stable is based. It was the ninth time in the last 10 years he was the leading or second-leading trainer.
“Any and every horse Dutrow becomes involved with during the 10 years his license is revoked . . . disqualifies the horse from any racetrack throughout New York state,” the civil court complaint says. “The order, in effect, also acts as a prohibition against Dutrow associating with any individuals who use the racetracks of New York state, including his family, who are connected to the racetracks.”
Lee Park, a spokesman for the New York State Gaming Commission, the agency that succeeded the racing board, said Wednesday that they haven’t been served with legal papers and declined to comment.
Dutrow had unsuccessfully appealed the license revocation in state courts, with the punishment put on hold until the New York Court of Appeals in January declined to hear his latest appeal.
In October, that same court rejected his constitutional claim that his rights to a fair proceeding were violated by the appearance of bias by racing board chairman John Sabini. Sabini was also an officer of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, which advocated revoking Dutrow’s license.
The federal lawsuit claims Sabini and association officials acted in concert to ensure his license would be revoked, depriving him of due process.