07/22/2011 3:24PM

Saratoga: Overdriven targets repeat of debut in Sanford

Barbara D. Livingston
Overdriven, with exercise rider Patti Krotenko up, crosses Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Friday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – When Overdriven rolled to a 3 1/2-length debut victory at Belmont Park on July 1, it evoked memories of Uncle Mo in part because he hails from the same connections. But trainer Todd Pletcher isn’t ready to put Overdriven in that category just yet.

“I’m not going to make any Uncle Mo comparisons with anybody,” said Pletcher, who trains both horses for owner Mike Repole.

Still, Pletcher was impressed enough with the way Overdriven performed in the race and with what he has done since to wheel him back in 23 days in Sunday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga. Pletcher has won four of the last 11 runnings of the Sanford, run at six furlongs.

Overdriven will face seven rivals in Sunday’s Sanford, including Jack’s in the Deck, who won the Futurity at Belmont on July 3, and Power World, who finished second in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill on July 2.

Overdriven, a son of Tale of the Cat, debuted July 1 at Belmont. After bobbling slightly at the start, Overdriven chased the well-touted J.C.s Pride early, collared him at the quarter pole, and then gradually drew clear in the stretch. He ran five furlongs in 56.42 seconds and earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure.

“The fractions were very fast, he rated kindly, sat off a hot pace, finished up strongly,” Pletcher said. “It seemed like he had a lot of energy left, pricked his ears when he got to the wire, and galloped out well. He kind of did everything you hoped one would do in his first start. He was professional, he was fast, and he came out of it well.”

Overdriven will break from post 6 under John Velazquez.

Two days after Overdriven won his debut, Jack’s in the Deck won the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont, running six furlongs in a relatively slow 1:13.36 and earning a Beyer of 69. The fact he’s won at the distance and gets Ramon Dominguez makes him a contender in here.

Trainer Eddie Kenneally sends out Maan, who won a maiden race at Churchill Downs by 1 1/2 lengths as the 3-2 favorite in an 11-horse field.

“He had trained well preparing for that first start and ran as expected,” Kenneally said. “He came wide but was in behind early and ate a lot of dirt. He got a good education from that first race.”

Moonrush, second to Maan in that July 3 maiden race, is back in this field as a maiden for D. Wayne Lukas. Moonrush gets Lasix for the first time.

Trainer Wesley Ward sends out the uncoupled entry of Black Rhino and Bless the Soldier. Black Rhino was third behind Sum of the Parts and Exfactor in a May 14 maiden race at Churchill. Exfactor came back to win in the Bashford Manor. Black Rhino came back to win a maiden turf race by eight lengths June 25.

Bless the Soldier won his debut in front-running fashion over Woodbine’s synthetic surface May 29.

“Training-wise I think Bless the Soldier is training a tad better than Black Rhino,” Ward said. “Ability-wise, Black Rhino towers over him.”

Tarpy’s Goal, who drifted out badly when finishing third as the favorite in the Futurity, completes the field.

The Sanford goes as race 9 on a 10-race card that begins at 1 p.m. Eastern.