Pricci's Saratoga Diary
For the next 40 days of New York racing, Executive Editor John Pricci will provide his insights on all things Saratoga for the 35th consecutive year in his original "Saratoga Diary." It debuted in 1977, the year Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown and Jatski was placed first in the Travers Stakes following the disqualification of Run Dusty Run. So keep up with the cold exactas, hot issues, and build your own stable of live horses, all from John's unique perspective, exclusively at

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Overdriven Has Gears

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, July 24, 2011--It's no secret that Mike Repole would love to lead all owners at the Saratoga race meet and the way many of his horses have been aggressively spotted seems to underscore that assessment.

Best laid plans don't always work out so if you must suffer some slings and arrows before reaching your goal, so be it. And if you have to wait for the unbeaten uber talented OVERDRIVEN to break your Spa 143 maiden, the wait was worth it.

This is one grand looking son of Tale Of The Cat from a French Deputy mare, athletic, leggy and very racy, but with enough scope to make you dream a little. He might not be as distance meant as runnerup POWER WORLD, a long bodied son of Distorted Humor from a Storm Cat mare that appears to want to run all day--a real dream weaver.

But the Sanford belonged to Overdriven and he will own all the races until someone can outrun him. It will take an extremely good horse to do that. Confidently handled while stalking the quick Black Rhino until ready, the same tacks he used successfully in his maiden romp at Belmont.

At headstretch, Johnny Velazquez threw a couple of crosses at the colt and the outcome became assured. It took 1:10.60 to get the six furlong job done, a final quarter-mile in a tad under :25 seconds.

The runnerup impressed in that he was hustkled a bit to keep pace with his speedy rivals, was urged to maintain close contact as the winner began drawing off under pressure soon after entering the straight. That's not an easy game to play, yet he kept coming in what should be a good race to build on for both.

Futurity winner JACK'S IN THE DECK finished very willingly for third, impressing more this day than he did while winning at Belmont Park.


Never too early to talk Travers, right? Reason when mention this is because there was some interesting stuff circulating in the press box here Saturday.

Apparently Steve Asmussen is going to separate Dominus and Astrology, both owned by the same group. With one going to the Jim Dandy next weekend, the other to the Jersey Shore for the Haskell.

Asmussen will decide depending on the best fit for either of them, since the goal is to “maximize both horses.” Best way to do that is to keep the van running and cross-enter in both.

It’s a bit of a tough read, actually. After running a great race to finish third in the Preakness, Astrology was awful in his next start.

Dominus, meanwhile, looked really good taking the Dwyer at Belmont but had things his own way. And that was one turn, not two.

Meanwhile, Blue Grass winner/Belmont third Brilliant Speed enjoyed a nice, soft five-eighths in 1:02.69 on the main track here Saturday after a bit of a freshening.

“I backed off his workouts,” explained trainer Tom Albertrani. “He’s a light framed horse so we didn’t have to do a lot with him. He got a lot out of today’s work. He galloped out well and came back good.

Alternation, the Peter Pan winner, breezed five furlongs Saturday as well, in 1:01.78, and definitely will start in the Jim Dandy, pointing toward the Travers.. “He finished real good down the lane and Ramon [Dominguez] was happy.”

Trainer Donnie Von Hemel had one prior Travers starter. His Clever Trevor finished second to Easy Goer in 1989. “He just wasn’t quite good enough that afternoon.”

Someone tell Von Hemel not to feel badly. A lot of good horses finished second to Easy Goer


Well, perhaps rolls is a tad strong. But if DEHERE OF THE CAT wasn’t as fit as hands could make him, he’d have come up of wearing down pacesetting HALF LIT. But he wasn’t, and the state-bred did.

Both colts ran very well; the runnerup should not be long for the maiden ranks. Don’t know how far he wants to go, however. Mike and Ramon; good job.


Trainer Glenn Disanto likes it Saratoga so much he never leaves town, not even in winter. And neither do his horses. HYSTERICAL CAT showed improved early speed in his turf debut at 7 furlongs on Long Island last out after a sharp bullet work on the Oklahoma training track.

Well, following another bullet, this time on grass and entered going 5-½ furlongs while dropping into a restricted claimer for the first time, it was flag fall to that’s all beneath a hustling, strong finishing Jeffrey Sanchez.

The $32.80 winner topped a Dime Super worth over $4,400. Now that’s what Saratoga’s all about!

Written by John Pricci

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