09/01/2012 4:33PM

Saratoga: Repole on verge of third straight owners' title

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mike Repole, following an 0 for 36 drought at Saratoga, is closing in on his third straight title as leading owner at Saratoga's summer meet.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Though he has won some of the sport’s biggest prizes the last three years, owner Mike Repole still has a hard time letting go of the summer of 2009.

That year, at Saratoga, Repole went winless with all 36 of his starters. It drove him nuts.

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“I suffered through 11 months of therapy,” Repole said by phone Saturday, hours before he was to watch Stay Thirsty run in the Woodward and Caixa Eletronica start in the Forego. “I said the only way I could recover from 0 for 36 was if I won the Saratoga title three years in a row. I’m two-thirds there.”

Repole was the leading owner here in 2010 and 2011. When Micromanage won Saturday’s seventh race it was his 12th win of the meet, two more than Klaravich Stable/William Lawrence and Michael Dubb, who has won 10 races with various partners.

Repole admits that his desire to win a third consecutive Saratoga owners’ title led him to claiming horses specifically for this meet while holding horses out of races at Belmont to run here. He had six runners on Saturday’s Saratoga card and lost with his first three, including even-money shot Winter Now (sixth in race 2) and Starforaday, who lost by a head after being compromised by a bad start. Isthmus, Repole’s runner in the fifth, finished second, beaten a half-length.

Repole has had 18 horses claimed from him at this meet, including Winter Now, who dropped from $50,000 to $20,000 on Saturday, and Isthmus. He has claimed only three horses at this meet.

“There were horses that we claimed [at Belmont] with the purpose of getting them in a race where they would be the favorite,” Repole said. “If we owned them at the end of the race, great, if not somebody else had the task of improving a horse off Todd Pletcher or Bruce Levine.”

Repole had only two horses entered on Sunday’s card here and five runners in four races on Monday’s closing-day card. One of Repole’s Monday runners, Overanalyze in the Hopeful, was expected to have run in Sunday’s Sapling at Monmouth Park.

“If I’m lucky to win it this year I would almost guarantee that there would be a new Saratoga owner title winner for 2013,” Repole said. “For five or six weeks this is all I do. My business has suffered. All my companies are down 40 percent for August. The good news is I had 12 wins at Saratoga.”

Bill Lawrence, who owns horses with Seth Klarman (Klaravich Stables), said the owners’ title isn’t something he or his partner necessarily covets. Lawrence was thrilled with the meet his stable has had, winning 10 races from 46 starters, including three Grade 2 stakes – the Saratoga Special (Spurious Precision), the Amsterdam (Currency Swap), and the With Anticipation (Balance the Books).

“We’re happy with the meet we had,” Lawrence said. “It certainly would be nice to be leading owner, but we’ve run nothing to try to win the owners’ title. We’re not giving our horses away and dropping horses in like some others do. We’re running in spots where we think they belong. We’ve won at 20 percent and three graded stakes, and we have a lot of promising horses for the fall.”

Klaravich lost with its only runner Saturday and had nothing in Sunday. Of its three runners on Monday, two were on the also-eligible list.

Dubb, who finished second to Repole last year here, entered the weekend 10 for 50, and had three runners on Sunday but only one on Monday.

“Being in the game, being competitive is what motivates me,” Dubb said. “It would be nice to win the title. Mike Repole and I have a lot of fun kidding each other about it, but at the end of the day he’s going to be more aggressive.

“I think my greatest frustration is I came here with about half a dozen hard-hitting horses for races that didn’t go.”