09/01/2012 3:33PM

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.”

Five More than 1 year ago
russell, you call it bashing, and calling me names. But, I am calling it the way I see it. I am not insane. Some of my favorite trainers past and present: Woody Stephens, R. Frankel, B. Mott, R. Mandella, W. Dollase, Shug McGuaghey et al. SO, I DO NOT HATE SUCCESS. Some of my favorite owners past and present: Phipps, Alan Paulson, R+B Lewis, E. Klein, Bert Firestone, et al. They are rich, by any standard. SO, I DO NOT HATE MONEY. I am NOT comparing Gill to Repole, person to person, and you think, I am repulsive. But, their tactic and motive, that you seem unable to understand, are not different. I will add no further comment.
Five More than 1 year ago
russell, am I off base ? or you just do not understand the game ? I urge you, anonymous (Ginger), BigAFan, Thomas s, et all. to re-read JoyJackson21's post and may I ask AGAIN, why is Repole's tactic and motive different from Michael Gill ? If you walk the same road, you may end up at the same place.
Five More than 1 year ago
Repole's tactic in the claiming game is not new. How is his tactic and motive any diiferent from Micheal Gill, and how that ended.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
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Five More than 1 year ago
russell, I think, you missed my point(s). I questioned, how his tactic and motive are any different ? Besides, the class levels, and less visible tracks, what Repole's doing is not new. And, the dirty stuff (tricks) prevail at all level tracks. They are going down the same road, in the same direction.
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JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
What Mr. Repole was doing was not about money. He was flipping horses like he would a house, in a very ego-driven activity. To heck with the well-being of said horses, flipping them so rapidly, or the ethics involved in the practice. So long as his ego is massaged and he can get over not winning a single race at Saratoga four years earlier. Just as long as he won a bet with himself that he could do it. Not a very lovely picture when you look at it. Shallow. There's nothing wrong with claiming horses and making money from a claim. In order to make a large profit off of a $62,500 claimer he had to have kept the horse and nurtured the horse's talent for far, far longer than a month to make that $1,000,000. And that's the point. He never gave these horses a chance. They all performed well for him the one race he owned them for, a win and two places are commendable performances, but he threw them away like so much used tissue. Never mind how flipping them once again in less than a month would effect them. They are just horses, who cares how they feel, right? It's the way he did things in order to assuage his hurt and wounded ego that was the problem. If he had claimed the horses and shown an interest in them and in expanding their talents, I would have been fine with that. But he didn't do that. He did the opposite of that. The end does not always justify the means, you know.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
I congratulate Mr. Repole on his three titles as top owner at Saratoga, and that he was able to fulfill his bet with himself to enable himself to get over being winless in his first year at the track. I am horrified on behalf of Isthmus, Winter Now and Starforaday. I hope they go to connections who will nurture and bring out their talents and do right by the horses. Horses are creatures of habit and so many changes in such a small space of time had to have been jarring for them. Changing barns so often cannot be good for their psyches, nor good for their performances. I hope they get to stay in one place for awhile and thrive with connections that appreciate them.
Lucy Ohannessian More than 1 year ago
Those comments make no sense....please do research before passing harsh judgment. Winter Now has been with Repole for well over a year (he was a two year old purchase), Starforaday was claimed in March....neither had placed in their past two races. Only Isthmus was off the claim, in his case for $50,000, and he was run back for that price on Saturday.
Thomas s More than 1 year ago
This guy wants to win. The more owners we have like Repole the stronger our industry, a business built on owners fighting each other for the top. Good stuff. I like a guy who leaves a hundred million on the table in his other businesses trying to pick up two more wins at the Spa.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
must be the enhanced vitawater horse supplement,but watch out repole plettecher is using some on his 2yos.
Five More than 1 year ago
Are you sure it's vitawater ? Then, why do they carry it in a black bag and serve it using a syringe?
BigAfan More than 1 year ago
Mike is great for the game.Horse racing needs more owners like Mike Repole.
Mike Bilinskas More than 1 year ago
Claiming horses and cutting them in half just to win a owners title, thats wonderful...
mrm More than 1 year ago
More dollars than sense.
mikey More than 1 year ago
The guy love's the game and put's his money back into it.He is a real gentelman and a credit to the sport.He give's a few trainer's his stock,and deal's with good guy's.How can you compare him to the Big Brown crowd.I wish him a triple crown in the near future.
Robin Cardoza More than 1 year ago
A Gentleman is not Mike Repole.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Repole is truly a class act with the racing public. He is an enthusiastic owner and has a competitive spirit. The fact that he has been successful in his business, allows him to be able to spend HIS money on his passion. I am glad that he does it in thoroughbred racing than in other activities; any legal monies that help a beleaguered industry and is not used in shady activities is gratefully welcome. He treats his horses kindly (I remember the articles portraying how worried he was when Uncle Mo got ill last year) and humanely. As an owner, we have all made mistakes of believing our horses are better than they may be but, let's be serious, almost the entire racing world thought UM was the second coming of Seattle Slew. What´s wrong with the owner believing that as well? I do not share his claiming and letting be claimed attitude within horse racing but those are the rules of the game. Is he doing something illegal here? I do believe that when he claims horses, those horses are given utmost care. If you had a choice of wealthy people to have involved in the sport, would you prefer the owners that give their horses to known sleazebag trainers (and I am not talking about Doug O'Neill, that guy is a class act as well; the way he handled IHA and all the accusations was admirable) like RD or horse cripplers like DWL (who may have mellowed out NOW but owns a list of shattered horses longer than a jumbo roll of Charmin,) the ones that treat their horses terribly while cashing in on them in every way possible (race fixing, slaughterhouses), such as the Ernie Paragallo's of this world or people who genuinely care about their horses even if they treat it like a business or are over -enthusiastic and make mistakes because of it, like the Parbhoos' and Repole's? I hope I have been able to change your mind Mr. Cardoza and to Mr. Repole: I hope you do change your mind and come back to get another owner´s title at the Spa.
Robin Cardoza More than 1 year ago
You will never change my mind. When he and his entourage go to the Trustees room attired not in dress code, when he puts an unsound horse willingly on the track to die(Take The Bluff), drops an unsound horse dramatically only to be vanned off(Seniors Pride), etc...I can never have your respect for him, sorry!