Updated on 04/16/2013 9:47AM

Arkansas Derby: Overanalyze pulls away for Pletcher

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Tom Keyser
Overanalyze wins the Arkansas Derby under jockey Rafael Bejarano.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Overanalyze gave his trainer, Todd Pletcher, a third major contender for next month’s Kentucky Derby after he cruised to a 4 1/4-length win in the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on Saturday. Pletcher also trains Verrazano, the undefeated winner of the Wood Memorial, and Revolutionary, the winner of the Louisiana Derby.

With the wins, horses trained by Pletcher ended up accounting for three of the seven Kentucky Derby preps that were worth 100 points to the winner on the new system governing preference into the May 4 race. He just missed missed winning a fourth when Palace Malice was caught in deep stretch of the Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday and finished second by a neck to Java’s War.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

The Arkansas Derby closed out the Oaklawn meet, and a sunny afternoon in the low 70s helped the track draw a crowd of 66,158. There were four major stakes on the program, with Cyber Secret winning the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, Justin Phillip capturing the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, and Get Happy Mister winning the $100,000 Northern Spur.

Overanalyze ($9.40) was the most accomplished member of the Arkansas Derby field as the winner of last year’s Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont Park and Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct. He settled in seventh behind leader Divine Ambition, with Rafael Bejarano aboard Overanalyze for the first time after John Velazquez, who was to be ride, was injured last weekend. Divine Ambition took the field through an opening quarter in 23.32 seconds, and was joined by Falling Sky through a half-mile in 47.64.

Overanalyze began to advance outside of horses on the turn, while Falling Sky took the field through six furlongs in 1:12.57. The eventual winner came four wide into the stretch, and worked his way past the leaders to cover 1 1/8 miles on a track rated fast in 1:51.94.

“I had a beautiful trip,” said Bejarano.  

“I didn’t use my horse too much in this race, tried to save a little bit,” he said. “I knew if he won the race he would be able to go in the Kentucky Derby. In the end, the last sixteenth, I saved a little bit for the next time, so I’m pretty sure he’s going to be ready for the Kentucky Derby.”

“I was shocked by how easy he won, and by how many lengths,” said Mike Repole, who owns Overanalyze.

Following the race a claim of foul against the winner was made by Phil Bauer, assistant to Ken McPeek, who trains Frac Daddy, for interference in the stretch. But it was not allowed by the stewards and no change was made to the order of finish. Frac Daddy was second, a half-length in front of third-place finisher Carve. Falling Sky was another neck back in fourth, with the top four finishers earning Kentucky Derby eligibility points on a scale of 100-40-20-10.

The remaining order of finish was Oxbow in fifth, followed by Den’s Legacy, Divine Ambition, Texas Bling, Heaven’s Runway,  and War Academy, the favorite who was pulled up on the final turn and walked off.

Overanalyze’s win came one start after he finished fifth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct in his 3-year-old debut March 2.

“In six weeks, he took a lot of steps forward,” said Repole.

Repole said he is excited about next month, with Overanalyze in the Kentucky Derby and his Unlimited Budget to run in the Kentucky Oaks.

“I’ve been in the game 30 years, since I was 13, 14, and I’m 44 now,” he said. “This is why I got in the game. To have horses in both of those races. What a special weekend that’s going to be.”

Overanalyze earned $600,000 for his win in the Arkansas Derby, to improve his career record to 4 for 7 for earnings of $956,381. He is a son of Dixie Union.

Overanalyze gave Pletcher his third win in the Arkansas Derby behind Graeme Hall in 2000 and Balto Star in 2001. Pletcher was second in the race in 2010 with Super Saver, who returned in his next start to win the Kentucky Derby.

Oaklawn handled $12,777,316 on its 12-race card from all sources Saturday. Of that amount, $9.2 million was bet offtrack and $3.5 million ontrack.