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Aqueduct: Repole loads up for big weekend of stakes
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – There are no seven-figure purses up for grabs, no championship honors at stake, and there are certainly no San Gabriel Mountains to provide an aesthetic backdrop.
But to owner Mike Repole, this weekend at Aqueduct is the most important weekend of the month of November.
From Thursday to Saturday, Repole planned to run seven horses in six stakes races – four of which are graded – at Aqueduct.
“This is my Breeders’ Cup weekend,” Repole said.
Repole boycotted this year’s Breeders’ Cup, held Nov. 2-3 at Santa Anita, in part because 2-year-olds were not permitted to race on Lasix and in part because he doesn’t like the fact the Breeders’ Cup hasn’t been run in New York since 2005.
Six of the seven horses Repole is running this week at Aqueduct were under consideration for Breeders’ Cup races, including Stay Thirsty, the runner-up in the Jockey Club Gold Cup who instead of participating in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic will take on six rivals – including the star filly Groupie Doll – in Saturday’s Grade 1, $350,000 Cigar Mile, one of four graded events to be held at Aqueduct on the day.
Stay Thirsty, who drew the rail, and Groupie Doll, who drew the extreme outside, were two of five Grade 1 winners entered in the Cigar Mile. Jersey Town, the 2010 Cigar Mile winner; Coil, the 2011 Haskell winner; and Hymn Book, this year’s Donn winner; are the others. Associate and Buffum complete the field for the Cigar, which will go as race 8 on Saturday’s 10-race program that begins at noon.
Repole on Saturday also will be represented by Micromanage and Overanalyze in the Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen for 2-year-old males and Unlimited Budget in the Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle for juvenile fillies. Repole’s Coconut Shrimp also was entered in the Demoiselle, but she was expected to start in Thursday’s $80,000 Lie Low Stakes on turf. Repole had Caixa Eletronica in Thursday’s Grade 3 Fall Highweight and Notacatbutallama in Friday’s $80,000 Super Mario Stakes.
Stay Thirsty, a son of Bernardini who Repole purchased for $500,000 at auction as a 2-year-old, will be making the 17th and final start of his career in the Cigar Mile. Stay Thirsty, who at 3 won the Grade 1 Travers, Grade 2 Jim Dandy, and Grade 3 Gotham, will stand at Ashford Stud – alongside his champion stablemate Uncle Mo – beginning next year.
Though he is winless in four starts this year, Stay Thirsty was beaten a head by Flat Out in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Sept. 29 after setting fast early fractions.
“Very bittersweet,” Repole said about Stay Thirsty’s final start. “One of my dream races to win was the Travers, my other dream race was the Belmont; losing it [by three-quarters of a length] was a tough beat, but he ran so well. In the Jockey Club Gold Cup, I was so proud of the horse. The horse means a lot; horses like these are once-in-a-lifetime horses. I don’t know if I’ll ever get another Stay Thirsty in my life.”
Had Groupie Doll, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in her last start, not entered the race, Stay Thirsty likely would have been the favorite in the Cigar Mile. Repole said he welcomes the presence of the talented filly.
“I’m not disappointed Groupie Doll is in there,” Repole said. “As a racing fan, it makes the race more exciting, more fun. More people are going to pay attention to it. If we’re fortunate enough to win, it’ll make the win more special.”
In the Remsen, Repole will send out the coupled entry of Overanalyze and Micromanage in the 10-horse field. Overanalyze won the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont before finishing third in the Iroquois at Churchill. Repole said he wasn’t thrilled with the ride Julien Leparoux gave Overanalyze in the Iroquois.
“I never second-guess jockeys, but I would have preferred had he kept him in the race,” Repole said. “I didn’t like the way he was up there early, he went back to seventh or eighth, and he finished to be third.”
Ramon Dominguez will ride Overanalyze on Saturday from post 7.
Micromanage, who won his debut by five lengths at Saratoga before finishing fifth in the Champagne, will break from post 3 under John Velazquez.
Other contenders in the Remsen include Delhomme, Normandy Invasion, Indy’s Illusion, and Stormy Len.
Unlimited Budget won her debut by 9 1/2 lengths going a mile here Nov. 9 and is running back on just 15 days’ rest, an unorthodox move by her trainer, Todd Pletcher.
“It’s not something I usually like to do, it’s not something Todd usually likes to do, but he worked her nine days after the race, and she worked very, very well,” Repole said. “She worked with [Nashua winner] Violence. Todd says she’s a big, scopy filly who hasn’t missed a day of training. There aren’t too many 2-year-old options. If you don’t run her here, where do you run her?”
The other six fillies entered in the Demoiselle have only won a maiden win to their credit. Emollient, the probable favorite, will be running with two aluminum pads.
Repole said he plans to be at Aqueduct on Thursday through Saturday and on Saturday is likely to have 40 to 50 friends and family with him.
“I’ve got seven horses in six stakes; I might go 0 for 6, I might be fortunate enough to win one,” Repole said. “Either way, we’re going to have a good time.”
Hope Stay Thirsty goes out with a win!
“I never second-guess jockeys, but ..." oh really? check again.
YAHOO! CASH MACHINE! A 133 LB WIN IN THE TURKEY TROT! ...HAPPINESS IS ... MIKE REPOLE'S SMILE IN THE WINNER'S CIRCLE ...ALWAYS BEAMING LIKE IT WAS THE FIRST TIME ...CONGRATULATIONS!
Groupie Doll will win this one easy.
GO UNCLE MIKE! ....BEST WISHES FOR THE TWICE IN A LIFETIME HORSE AND THRICE ...AND SO ON! ...IT'S COMING YOUR WAY DESERVEDLY SO FOR ALL OF THE EXCITEMENT THAT YOU BRING TO THE SPORT! THANKS! ...LMF
Its a shame they can't retire Repole after the Cigar Mile, thats what racing needs.
The Met Mile and Cigar Mile have always been two of my favorite races. Horses have to run lights out to win them. Very tactical.
I know you care a lot about your horses. That's GOOD. GOOD LUCK
This owner's enthusiasm for racing is refreshing; he's good for the game. Win or lose, he always comes back for more. And, Steve, I don't think he's saying that he won't ship his horses outside of N.Y. for big races. But he's a New Yorker and he (rightly) believes that the B.C. should be in N.Y. every once in a while - at least.
the two times Stay Thirsty has shipped out of NY, they've been complete disasters. I don't blame the connections for not coming for the BC. And I don't buy the NY thing one bit since he did ship to Kentucky with a bunch of his horses. I bet the lasix issue irks him more (as it does many owners/trainers). And it also didn't help that none of the horses running this weekend had a chance in their respective BC races anyway.