Owner: Mike Repole
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Garrett Gomez
- * A $240,000 yearling purchase at Keeneland in September, 2011, Midnight Taboo made one start as a 2-year-old, finishing second at Saratoga
- * Broke his maiden going a mile at Aqueduct in April, defeating older horses, and next finished second to the well-regarded Irsaal in an optional claimer at Belmont
- * The chestnut colt is a son of Langfuhr out of Hot Red, whose sire, Thunder Gulch, won the 1995 Belmont Stakes
This will be the second Belmont Stakes for Queens native Mike Repole, whose Stay Thirsty finished second in 2011. Mr. Repole, 44, is a major investor in and chairman of Pirate Brands and Energy Kitchen restaurants, and was the president and co-founder of Glaceau, maker of Vitaminwater and Smartwater. The company was sold to Coca-Cola in 2007 for a reported $4.1 billion allowing Mr. Repole to concentrate on racing. Repole was the leading owner at Saratoga in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and led all owners in New York in wins in 2009. The owner of 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and 2-year-old champion Uncle Mo, Repole’s other stakes winners include Stay Thirsty, who in 2011 won the Gotham, Jim Dandy and Travers and the Cigar Mile in 2012, Unlimited Budget, Calibrachoa, Caixa Eletronica and Driven by Success. Repole and his wife Maria reside in Long Island.
Pletcher will try for his second Belmont Stakes victory this year, having captured the 2007 edition when Rags to Riches became the first filly in 102 years to win the race, defeating eventual Horse of the Year Curlin by head. Pletcher’s previous 11 Belmont starters include Impeachment, who was fifth in 2000, and runners-up Bluegrass Cat (2006), Dunkirk (2009) and Stay Thirsty (2011). A five-time Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s top trainer, Pletcher won his first Kentucky Derby in 2010 with Super Saver. Pletcher trained champions Ashado, English Channel, Fleet Indian, Lawyer Ron, Left Bank, Rags to Riches, Shanghai Bobby, Speightstown, Wait a While, and Uncle Mo. Pletcher has won 27 NYRA meet titles including three straight at Saratoga from 2010-2012, and was the leading trainer on the circuit in 2003, 2004, and 2010.
Though he has dominated the Breeders’ Cup, winning 13 races and being named the annual event’s top jockey in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010, the 39-year-old Arizona native remains winless in the Triple Crown. Based in California, he came East to be first-call rider for trainer Todd Pletcher following John Velazquez’s injury in 2006. He led the nation in purses earned from 2006 to 2009, winning the Eclipse Award as top jockey in 2007 and 2008. Last year, he won 124 races and $10,630,992 in purses. Gomez set a single-season record for most stakes wins with 76 in 2008, also earning his 3,000th career victory that fall on Hyperbaric at Santa Anita. He picked up three more Breeders’ Cup victories in 2010, including Blame, whose triumph in the Classic handed Zenyatta the only loss of her 20-race career, and in 2011 was chosen the recipient of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award by his peers. His best Belmont finish was a fourth with Hard Spun in 2007.
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