by NYRA Press Office
Belmont Park Notes
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 the true sportsman that he is, 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.
For information and details on Belmont Stakes Racing Festival hospitality offerings, ticket packages and pricing, visit BelmontStakes.com. For full terms and conditions, visit https://www.belmontstakes.com/tickets.
For comprehensive information on health and safety protocols in effect for the Belmont Park spring/summer meet, please visit: https://www.nyra.com/belmont/visit/plan-your-visit.
G1 Belmont Stakes contenders school at the gate
A number of Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets contenders schooled at the starting gate and in the paddock on an overcast and drizzly Thursday morning at Belmont.
Godolphin’s Champion 2-Year-Old Essential Quality visited the main track just after 7 a.m. for his routine gallop in preparation for the 1 1/2-mile test.
The son of three-time Belmont Stakes-producing sire Tapit went to the main track under trainer Brad Cox’s assistant Dustin Dugas and visited the gate before a gallop over the main track.
“He’s been doing great,” Cox said. “He went to the track this morning and looked great. Since shipping up here, he’s done well. I don’t see any issues with him.”
Essential Quality, who also schooled in the paddock later in the morning, seeks to give the prestigious worldwide racing and breeding operation their first triumph in an American Triple Crown race. The Kentucky homebred also seeks to add his name to a long list American classic-winning horses who directly descend from prestigious blue hen mare La Troienne.
Hronis Racing and Michael Talla’s Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World visited the gate on the Belmont main track before galloping a mile and a half on Big Sandy. He later schooled in the Belmont paddock.
Trainer John Sadler was on hand to watch his Grade 1-winning son of Candy Ride prepare for Saturday’s engagement and said the was satisfied with what he’s seen.
“He looked good in the gate and galloped very well,” Sadler said.
Sadler, whose lone Belmont Stakes contender was Dave in Dixie [10th in 2010], expressed confidence in Rock Your World being able to handle the mile-and-a-half distance that awaits him.
“When you’re talking about the Belmont, this is the longest that these horses will run,” Sadler said. “We think he has the action and the pedigree to go that far. Empire Maker is his damsire and he won the  Belmont. He should have a lot of stamina.”
Rock Your World will seek redemption following a difficult break from the gate in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 1, where he was out of position and unable to establish his usual frontrunning tactics.
Stephanie Hronis, who operates Hronis Racing with her husband Kosta, also was on site to watch Rock Your World train. She expressed excitement in being able to watch her horse seek to make amends.
“We’re calling it the redemption race for Rock Your World,” Hronis said. “He’s an exceptional horse. He’s got it on both sides where he can route on the dirt. The Derby was a good learning experience, but at the time it really did hurt. It was tough to see his race being over right in the first few steps from the gate. That was really tough to watch. But again, it was a good experience, and we think he has it in him.”
The owner-trainer combination have notched previous Grade 1-victories with the likes of 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Accelerate, as well as Catalina Cruiser, Stellar Wind, Hard Aces, and Ollie’s Candy among multiple others.
Hronis said a triumph in a Triple Crown race would mean the world to her.
“To say exceptional would be an understatement,” Hronis said “It would be such an honor to have a Triple Crown win for everyone for the barn, for both the Hronis and Talla families. We’ve got quite a dynamic going. [Bloodstock agent] David Ingordo is hugely responsible for horses we’ve had in the barn. For our entire team, it would be incredible honor to win.”
Hronis relishes the relationship that her and her husband have with Sadler and said that it goes far beyond the racetrack.
“We’ve adopted John. He’s a part of the Hronis family and he’s adopted us,” Hronis said. “It’s definitely a friendship and a family that means a great deal to each of us. We see that lasting a very, very long time.”
Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher's trio of Grade 1 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets trainees - Calumet Farm's Bourbonic, St. Elias Stable's Known Agenda and Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith's Overtook - all trained on Thursday at just past 6:00 a.m. ahead of their date in the "Test of the Champion" on Saturday. Both Overtook and Bourbonic schooled in the paddock later in the morning.
"They all went out this morning, galloped a mile and a half and schooled at the gate," Pletcher said. "They're all looking well."
Pletcher also reported that Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Martin Schwartz and CHC Inc.'s Valiance spiked a temperature and will be withdrawn from the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps.
Yuji Inaida’s France Go de Ina, who breezed five-eighths in in 1:02.62 on the main track Wednesday, enjoyed a walk day and will return to his regular gallop schedule on Friday.
Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, Strauss Bros Racing and Gainesway Thoroughbreds' Hot Rod Charlie continues to thrive for trainer Doug O'Neill.
The veteran conditioner called an audible after the main track was sealed Thursday and instead sent the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby-winner to gallop over the dirt training track.
"He went to the nicely harrowed training track and we were very happy with that," said O'Neill.
O'Neill said Hot Rod Charlie, who finished third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, will not visit the gate this week.
"He's good at the gate and hasn't had any issues. We're happy with him," said O'Neill.
John and Diane Fradkin’s Grade 1 Preakness-winner Rombauer visited the gate and galloped on the main track at 7:15 a.m. for trainer Michael McCarthy.
“It went well,” said McCarthy. “He went his usual mile and three-eighths which is what we've been doing all week long. All is good.”
Dream Shake hopes to turn the tables on Jackie’s Warrior in G1 Woody Stephens
Exline-Border Racing, SAF Racing, Stonestreet Stables and Richard Hausman's Dream Shake arrived at Belmont on Wednesday for his start in Saturday’s 37th running of the Grade 1, $400,000 Woody Stephens presented by Nassau County Industrial Development Agency.
The Peter Eurton trainee finished a game second last out in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile, defeated a head by Woody Stephens-rival Jackie's Warrior.
Assistant trainer Tomas Dubaele said Dream Shake enjoyed his first morning training on Belmont’s dirt training track and is coming into Saturday’s seven-furlong sprint for sophomores in good order.
“We jogged at the small track,” said Dubaele. “He's always a very happy horse and he came back good from his last race. He loves training and he's eating good. He got so much out of his last race, it could definitely make an impact on Saturday.”
The dark bay son of Twirling Candy garnered a 96 Beyer Speed Figure in his winning debut traveling 6 1/2-furlongs over the Santa Anita main track on February 7. He followed with a pair of third-place efforts around two turns in the Grade 2 San Felipe in March and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in April.
On his return to one-turn action, Dream Shake tracked from second in the Pat Day Mile as Jackie’s Warrior ripped off splits of 21.75, 43.69 and 1:07.97 through three-quarters of a mile. With Flavien Prat up, Dream Shake raced four-wide along the turn and dug in gamely down the lane but could not pass his talented rival.
“He ran huge last time against Jackie's Warrior. It was a very good race,” said Dubaele. “Hopefully, going seven furlongs will help him. If he runs the same race as last time, he should be tough.”
Dubaene said Dream Shake should appreciate the expansive Belmont main track.
“I think he will handle it just fine. He's a very strong horse. He's a little tank,” said Dubaele. “He really loves training and racing. I think it will be a good race and Jackie's Warrior will be very tough to beat, but hopefully we can get him this time.”
Dream Shake will exit post 4 with Prat in the irons.
Tizamagician looks to pull another disappearing trick in G2 Brooklyn
MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm's Tizamagician arrived in New York on Wednesday for Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational presented by Northwell Health, a 12-furlong test for 4-year-olds and up.
A Tiznow colt trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, Tizamagician enters from a dominant, nine-length win in the Grade 3 Tokyo City on April 18 at Santa Anita Park.
With assistant Taylor Cambra, Tizamagician visited Belmont’s dirt training track to stretch his legs on Thursday morning.
“We galloped one lap on the training track this morning,” said Cambra. “He doesn't need to do that much and it was a long trip. If he's not fit enough now, he'll never be fit enough.”
Tizamagician, who boasts a record of 16-4-6-1 with purse earnings of $287,851, finished second in the 12-furlong Grade 2 Tokyo City in September at Santa Anita to close out his sophomore season.
After a winning seasonal debut in January traveling 1 1/16-miles in an optional-claiming test at Santa Anita, Tizamagician stepped up to finish a good second in the nine-furlong Grade 2 San Pasqual on January 30 ahead of a troubled-trip fifth in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March.
Cambra said Saturday’s marathon distance is well suited to the strapping dark bay colt.
“He can just run all day. He's not quite quick enough to run a mile, but at a mile and a half to a mile and three-quarters, he can just keep going,” said Cambra. “I think with his big, long stride the big track here in New York will suit him very well. He's still trying to fill out his frame. He eats everything. You can't feed him enough. He's doing better than ever and we're hoping it continues through Saturday.”
Cambra said Tizamagician, bred in Kentucky by Woodford Thoroughbreds and purchased for $75,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, will return to the training track on Friday for a mile and a quarter gallop.
Althiqa and Summer Romance in preparing for soft ground in G1 Longines Just a Game
Godolphin's Charlie Appleby-trained fillies Althiqa and Summer Romance continued their preparation for Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Just a Game at Belmont Park with an easy hack of the 12-furlong Belmont Park dirt oval on Thursday.
Both Group 2 winners in Dubai, Althiqa in the one-mile Cape Verdi and Summer Romance in the 1 1/8-mile Balanchine, they will likely tackle softer ground than that on Saturday. Althiqa drew post 8 and will be ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith and Summer Romance is adjacent in post 9 under Luis Saez.
"The ease in the ground won’t inconvenience either of them, really,” Appleby said. “They both have a bit of form on soft ground. (Being a) Dark Angel filly, Althiqa won’t mind a bit of cut in the ground. Summer Romance has a bit of form on soft ground.
“The draws are where they are and the Americans might have more gate speed than we will, anyway,” Appleby continued. “It might just work that we can just slot in and hopefully get a pitch from where we jump. I’m excited. It’s a very competitive race, but the two fillies, they take their own credentials into the race and they’ll be competitive. I’m looking forward to seeing it.”
While not as flashy as her yard-mate, homebred Althiqa has proven consistent, winning four and never failing to hit the board from nine starts. Prior to her Cape Verdi win in January over good ground, she ran respectable seconds in both the Group 3 Sceptre Fillies' Stakes at Doncaster and Group 3 Prix de Lieurey at Deauville—the latter over heavy ground. She also won the Listed Prix Amandine at Deauville on good ground.
Summer Romance was a nearly $900,000 Arqana Breeze-Up purchase and is a half-sister to multiple Group 1 winner Rizeena. She has been less consistent in her nine starts, but has been flashy in her four victories, including the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth at Epsom, Newmarket's Listed Empress Fillies' Stakes and a debut win over soft going at Great Yarmouth. Eighth in the classic Group 1 1,000 Guineas astern champion Love, she has proven much more tactical than her late-closing stablemate.
On Saturday, Appleby will also start Godolphin’s 4-year-old Curlin gelding Desert Peace, a $1.3 million purchase who is 3-for-5 lifetime, including one dirt and two all-weather wins. He is slated to run in the Saturday nightcap, a turf allowance over nine furlongs.
“If they switch the turf to the dirt, then I don’t think it will affect him,” Appleby concluded. “All three runners seem fit and well. I’m looking forward to watching them run.”
Appleby also re-confirmed that Rebel’s Romance is possible for the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational in July.
Got Stormy ready to roll in G1 Jackpocket Jaipur
MyRacehorse Stable and Spendthrift Farm’s multiple Grade 1-winner Got Stormy, trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse, visited the gate Thursday ahead of Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Jackpocket Jaipur, a six-furlong turf sprint on Belmont Stakes Day.
Got Stormy shipped in to New York last week from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, followed her last-out fifth in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile.
"She visited the gate this morning and loped along. I'm very pleased with her," said Casse assistant Shane Tripp. She's a pro and has done this many times. She's the best shipper I've ever been around."
Following a pair of starts at one-mile to start her campaign, Got Stormy cuts back to six furlongs on Saturday.
Last year, Got Stormy turned back to 6 1/2-furlongs to win the Grade 3 Ladies Sprint in September over soft going at Kentucky Downs. She followed with a win in the Grade 3 Buffalo Trace Franklin County at 5 1/2-furlongs on “good” Keeneland turf in October ahead of a close fifth, defeated two lengths by the victorious Glass Slippers, in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in November at Keeneland.
"I think the cut back is great. It's what she wants to do now and she won going shorter distances last fall," said Tripp. "If we get a little bit of a soft course I don't think it will be too much of a hindrance for her. She won that one stake at Kentucky Downs when it was soft. I'm pleased with her."
Gary Barber’s Make Mischief is targeting the Grade 1, $500,000 Acorn, a one-turn mile on Big Sandy for sophomore fillies on June 5.
The New York-bred daughter of Into Mischief was a gallant third last out in the Grade 2 Eight Belles on April 30 at Churchill Downs.
"She ran a big race in the Eight Belles. This is a tough race, but she's doing well," said Tripp. "She's a big girl and she's grown a bunch."
Bred by Avanti Stable, Make Mischief is out of the Speightstown mare Speightful Lady, who has produced four other runners of racing age, all of which are winners.
Andrew Fegyveresi; Pat McKenna
NYRA Press Office
NYRA Press Office