Repole: Longshot Overtook Well-Bred For Belmont’s Distance

Few active Thoroughbred owners are as synonymous with top-level success on the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit as Mike Repole, who will be represented by Overtook in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.

Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Overtook, a $1 million purchase from the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, is owned by Repole in partnership with St. Elias Stable, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith.

As a lifelong New Yorker and racing fan, Repole said he takes pride in having conquered some of the most prestigious races in the Empire State and beyond.

When examining his own list of accomplishments, Repole said it’s not his triumphs in prestigious Grade 1 New York classics such as the Travers, Alabama, Champagne or Coaching Club American Oaks, nor is it his two Breeders’ Cup victories, that stand out.

“There’s a hole in my resume, and it’s the Belmont Stakes,” Repole said. “I’ve probably said it fifteen years ago when I had just entered the game and was winning claiming races that I’d rather win the Belmont than the Kentucky Derby. And now, 15 years later, I’m still looking.”

Repole arrives at this year’s Belmont Stakes with the second longest shot in a field of eight in Overtook, who breaks from the outside post at morning line odds of 20-1 under jockey Manny Franco.

Repole came close to finding his first Belmont Stakes victory in his first attempt when Stay Thirsty ran second in 2011. At the top of the stretch, the subsequent Grade 1 Travers victor made a menacing run along the rail, but was ultimately kept at bay by Ruler On Ice.

“That still goes down as the toughest loss in my life,” Repole said. “People congratulated me right after the race knowing that this was a dream and I had come so close. Now, ten years later, I haven’t come close to it since. It just makes it more inspiring and motivating to one day win this race.”

Since Stay Thirsty’s rallying second in the “Test of the Champion”, Repole has owned a handful of Belmont Stakes contenders, including a trio of unplaced runners in 2013, as well as his most recent Belmont starter Vino Rosso running fourth in 2018.

But like a true sportsman, Repole remains persistent in getting that Belmont Stakes win. A native of Queens, Repole grew up going to Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack and always held the Triple Crown’s third jewel in highest regards.

“I’ve been so blessed. These are the races I went to growing up and these are the races I wanted to win,” Repole said. “I definitely feel blessed and lucky, but there’s a hole in that resume and it’s the Belmont Stakes. Especially, when I think about being that kid from Queens that grew up going to Aqueduct and Belmont. Now, I’ve had so many big wins in New York.”

Overtook was certainly bred for the 12-furlong endurance distance, being by 2007-08 Horse of the Year Curlin, sire of 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, and is out of the Grade 1-winning A.P. Indy mare Got Lucky. Additionally, he is a direct descendent of the immensely influential La Troienne.

All it took was one glance at Overtook’s pedigree for Repole to have the Belmont Stakes in mind.

“This is one horse that I circled for a mile and a half in the Belmont in two years,” Repole said. “Curlin only lost by a nose in the Belmont and Got Lucky could run all day. We’ll be a longshot, but there’s no doubt that he can get the distance.”

In five career starts, Overtook’s lone victory was a one-turn mile maiden triumph at third asking over the main track at Aqueduct, where he made up 10 lengths from eighth. From there, he maintained his late-closing running style with placings in the Grade 3 Withers and most recently the Grade 3 Peter Pan on May 8 at Belmont Park.

“If we get a good pace upfront, one thing you’ll see is that he’ll be running really hard at the end,” Repole said. “When he broke his maiden, it wasn’t the distance, it was the pace that made all the difference. When he was in the Peter Pan, I thought he had a big shot, but when I saw the fractions, I knew we were in trouble.

“If they go 25 and 50 upfront, I might be walking to get my car from the valet early,” he added, with a laugh. “If I see 24 and 48 or even faster, I’ll stand up immediately and watch him the whole way.”

Repole said Overtook is in good hands with his Hall of Fame trainer, a three-time Belmont Stakes-winner, and last year’s winning Belmont rider Manny Franco.

“He’s a horse that will need the distance and the pace, but Todd has done an amazing with him, and Manny fits this horse really, really well,” said Repole. “He’s an aggressive rider and I think Overtook likes aggressive riders. He’ll have to get in the game and be aggressive that last quarter of a mile. Hopefully, we’ll see those blue and orange silks come flying down the stretch.”

Repole spoke high volumes of Overtook’s co-owners, both of whom he has had a longstanding relationship. He owned 2019 Champion Older Horse Vino Rosso in partnership with Viola, who is the standalone owner of Belmont Stakes contender Known Agenda. Coolmore stands Uncle Mo, who was 2010 Champion 2-Year-Old and became an influential sire, producing 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist in his first crop.

“Vinnie and Teresa [Viola] and I have a lot of horses together. Vino Rosso ran fourth a few years ago and went on to do some big things,” said Repole. “If Overtook can’t win, there’s no one rooting harder for Known Agenda than me.”

The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival runs from June 3 through Saturday, June 5, and is headlined by the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes. The festival will encompass 17 total stakes, including eight Grade 1s on Belmont Stakes Day, capped by the “Test of the Champion” for 3-year-olds in the 1 1/2-mile final leg of the Triple Crown.

The post Repole: Longshot Overtook Well-Bred For Belmont’s Distance appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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