Oaklawn Notes March 29

March 29, 2013

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Pletcher Eying Arkansas Derby for Overanalyze

Trainer Todd Pletcher is no stranger to Arkansas Derby (G1) success and he’s hoping Mike Repole’s Overanalyze is the right horse to bring him back to the winner’s circle in Oaklawn’s marquee race April 13. Pletcher won back-to-back runnings in 2000 and 2001 with Graeme Hall and Balto Star, respectively and finished second in 2010 with Super Saver, who went on to become his first and only Kentucky Derby winner to date.

Overanalyze, who is with Pletcher’s Palm Meadows string in South Florida, most recently finished fifth as the favorite in in the Gotham Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct March 2. That was his first start since winning the Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct last November. Overanalyze, Remsen runner-up Normandy Invasion and third-place finisher Delhomme were all on everyone’s early Kentucky Derby lists, but have since fallen off after each made disappointing starts to begin their 3-year-old seasons. However, Pletcher thinks people may be jumping off their bandwagons a little too quickly.

“I think Normandy Invasion’s race at the Fair Grounds (when fifth in Risen Star) was kind of sneaky good,” said Pletcher. “Now, if you go based on my horse (Overanalyze) and Delhomme, yes you have to look at (the Remsen) as a negative key race. We keep looking, and every kind of speed figure shows it was a fast, big number race. But, I don't think the race was horrible. The way he's been training, I think he's ready to move forward and he's going to have to.”

Overanalyze, a Dixie Union colt, has had two good workouts since the Gotham and is expected to work again over the weekend at Palm Meadows.

Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned on Target for Oaklawn Handicap

Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Fort Larned’s misfortune has turned into Oaklawn’s good fortune. If things had gone smoothly in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) March 9, chances are he would be defending his title in the Skip Away Handicap (G3) this Saturday. Instead, he stumbled at the start of the race and unseated his regular rider Brian Hernandez in his first start of the year, forcing trainer Ian Wilkes to call an audible and look toward the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 13. He’s schedule to arrive in Hot Springs April 8.

“The horse is doing good,” said Wilkes, who trains the 5-year-old E Dubai horse of Janis Whitham. “He breezed a couple days ago and he's great out of that. (Losing the jockey at the start) changed things a little bit and we had to rethink what we wanted to do with him, but it's not that much of a hardship. The main thing we were very fortunate nothing serious happened. That was key.”

Among Fort Larned’s chief rivals in the Oaklawn Handicap will be Charles Cella’s Cyber Secret, winner of Oaklawn’s Razborback Handicap (G3) March 9. He worked at six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 over a fast local track.

Sims Prepares Stable Stars for Racing Festival Stakes

Kentucky based trainer Phil Sims could put an exclamation mark on his first Oaklawn meet should Don’t Tell Sophia win the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 12 and Lady Diva Ga Ga win the $100,000 Carousel Stakes April11. Both horses have contributed two wins each to Sims’ current nine-win total this season.

Both Don’t Tell Sophia and Lady Diva Ga Ga turned in “maintenance” works Friday in preparation for their stakes starts. Don’t Tell Sophia, who won the Pippen and Bayakoa Stakes before finishing second last out in the Azeri Stakes (G3), posted a bullet half mile work in 47 2/5, while her stablemate covered the same distance in 49 3/5. She won two straight allowance races to start the meet, but has since finished third in the Spring Fever Stakes Feb. 17 as the favorite and second in an l allowance race March 15.

“It was a good work for Don’t Tell Sophia,” said Sims. “We let her pick it up pretty good down the lane and she finished up really good like she always does. I was also happy with (Lady Diva Ga Ga).”

Also working toward a start in the Apple Blossom Friday was Azeri Stakes winner Tiz Miz Sue, who breezed a half mile in 48 2/5. “It was great, perfect,” said trainer Steve Hobby.