08/03/2010 4:22PM

Repole’s summer already sunnier

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Owner Mike Repole is doing his best to expunge the nightmare that was his 2009 Saratoga meet.
A year after going 0 for 36 at Saratoga, Repole has won four races from 14 starters through the first 10 days of this meet, putting him tied atop the owner standings with Gary and Mary West.
“I was 0 for 36 last year, that has to be a Saratoga record,” said Repole, who despite his terrible Saratoga, ended 2009 as the leading owner on the New York Racing Association circuit with 51 wins. “It was the worst six weeks of racing in my life. I’m so focused on trying to win this meet.”
One loss in particular that lingered in Repole’s head was when Driven by Success was beaten as the 2-5 favorite in the John Morrissey Stakes.
Driven by Success is back for another shot at the $70,000 John Morrissey, which will be run as Thursday’s third race. Once again, Driven by Success will be favored in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint for New York-breds.
Repole recalls that trainer Steve Asmussen had two horses in the race and that one of them, Dr. W., ran with Driven by Success early in hopes of setting it up for Premium Wine. After dueling with Dr. W through a half-mile in 43.87 seconds, Driven by Success opened up a three-length lead in midstretch only to be run down by Law Enforcement.
“It was the most devastating loss of my life,” said Repole, who had a bunch of friends and family at the track that day.
Still smarting from that loss, Repole claimed Dr. W for $75,000 from Asmussen here on July 26.
Driven by Success, now trained by Todd Pletcher, has won his last two starts entering the Morrissey despite not breaking well in either one.
“The key to his success in his last couple of races is allowing him to settle rather than rush him when he doesn’t break well,” Pletcher said.
Law Enforcement, winless in five starts since the Morrissey, Legal Consent, Mor Chances and Naughty New Yorker complete the field.
Mott closes in on 4,000 wins
With three more victories, trainer Bill Mott will become just the ninth trainer in history to record 4,000 career victories in North America.
Mott, who turned 57 on July 29, recorded his 3,997th career victory on Saturday when Proviso won the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga. He had three horses in on Wednesday – though one was a main-track only entrant for a turf race – and horses in five of 10 races on Thursday.
“It’s not a milestone for just one person,” Mott said Tuesday morning outside his barn. “It’s a milestone for a whole organization. There are a lot of people that will have to take credit for that.”
Mott, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998 at age 45, said he is proud of the fact that many of these wins have come at the game’s highest level. Mott has won 363 graded stakes in his career.
Mott said that there are no concrete plans for Proviso, but he said she will not run in the Ballston Spa later in the meet. Mott also said that Unrivaled Belle came out of her second-place finish in the Ruffian Invitational “reasonably well” but would not run back in the Personal Ensign.
Mott said Unrivaled Belle could be turned back in distance and try sprint races to see if she could be a candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs in November
Mott recently welcomed back his graded stakes winning turf colt Courageous Cat to the barn. Courageous Cat, the runner-up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, got turned out after finishing ninth in the Dubai Duty Free in March. Mott said the horse “got a little jammed up” out of the Duty Free.
On Monday, Courageous Cat breezed three furlongs in 39 seconds over the Oklahoma training track. Mott said it was his second workout since returning to the barn.
“For a horse that’s been turned out, he doesn’t look like he’s lost a lot of fitness,” Mott said. “He looks good, his coat is good. We’d like to get a race into him before the Breeders’ Cup and hopefully earn our way back into the Breeders’ Cup.”
Hold Me back headed west
Hold Me Back was nominated to the Whitney on Saturday at Saratoga, but trainer Bill Mott said he will keep Hold Me Back on synthetic surfaces and send him to Del Mar for the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 28.
Hold Me Back is coming off a win in the Grade 3 Dominion Day at Woodbine on July 3, his first victory since capturing the Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway in March of 2009. Woodbine and Turfway, like Del Mar, have Polytrack surfaces. Hold Me Back also finished second in last year’s Travers to Summer Bird.
“He went to Canada and ran with the idea that Del Mar would be next,” Mott said. “That was the plan, to head out there.”
The Pacific Classic is shaping up as a wide-open race, in particular now that Rail Trip, heretofore the West Coast’s most accomplished older horse, is here at Saratoga, preparing for the Woodward Stakes at the end of the meet.
– additional reporting by Jay Privman