First Posted: 4/13/2013
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Mike Repole wasn’t sure what to make of a disappointing start of the year for his standout 3-year-old, Overanalyze, after a fifth-place finish at the Gotham Stakes last month.
The owner decided to give the colt a six-week break afterward, a move that paid off in convincing fashion Saturday.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano for the first time, Overanalyze stormed down the home stretch to pull away and win the $1 million Arkansas Derby — making a three-time winner out of trainer Todd Pletcher.
The colt, who struggled so mightily in his only other start of the year, once again found the form that made him a winner in three of five races last year as a 2-year-old. He won by 4¼ lengths and earned Pletcher his first win in the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby prep since winning back-to-back Arkansas derbies in 2000 and 2001.
He also more than made up for his difficult first start of the year, a race in which he was favored and among the leaders on the final turn before fading.
“I think he more than redeemed himself,” Repole said. “… I was waiting for the move, and the move came. It just came six weeks later in the Arkansas Derby.”
Repole was counting on Overanalyze to be a Kentucky Derby contender this year, particularly after the colt earned more than $350,000 last year, and he wasn’t sure what to make of the colt’s first start in three months on March 2 at the Gotham.
“He kind of sat down,” jockey John Velazquez told Repole. “It just looked like he needed a race.”
Overanalyze made a prophet on Saturday out of Velazquez, who ceded his position on the colt to Bejarano due to injury. The colt also confirmed for Repole that is was indeed the right decision to rest him for six weeks after the Gotham.
“He really took a lot of steps forward since the Gotham race,” Repole said. “I’m not really surprised that he won. I think I’m really shocked how easy he won and by how much he won.”
Trained by Pletcher, Overanalyze started in the No. 9 gate in the 10-horse race and trailed with a second group for much of the race. He charged ahead after the final turn, however and easily pulled away from runner-up Frac Daddy and third-place finisher Carve.
Overanalyze paid $9.40, $5.60 and $4.60. Frac Daddy returned $16.80 and $11, and Carve paid $8.60 to show. Overanalyze earned 100 points in the race for a spot in the Kentucky Derby, while Frac Daddy earned 40 and Carve 20.
Bejarano, who won the 2009 Arkansas Derby on Papa Clem, said he even pulled up on the final 1/16th of the race in order to save stamina for Overanalyze.
“I’m sure he’s going to be ready for the Kentucky Derby,” Bejarano said.
Overanalyze had run only once previously this year after his stellar 2-year-old campaign, his fifth-place finish at the Gotham.
Java’s War wins Blue Grass
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Java’s War edged Palace Malice by a neck Saturday to win the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and solidify his credentials for the Kentucky Derby.
Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Java’s War trailed the field after starting from the fourth position, then came on in the backstretch to challenge Palace Malice down the stretch and pull ahead. With his first Grade I stakes victory, Java’s War earned 100 more points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings after starting the day with 22, placing him in the mix for the 139th running on May 4 at Churchill Downs.
Java’s War covered 1 1/8 mile in 1:50.27 and paid $11.20, $5.60 and $4.
Palace Malice returned $6 and $4.60, and Charming Kitten paid $11.20 to show. Rydilluc went off as the race favorite and set the early pace before fading to finish fourth.