Overanalyze returned to form with a Kentucky Derby-qualifying win at the Arkansas Derby on Saturday.
After grabbing the lead down the stretch, the 3-year-old colt blew past the field to seize a 4 1/4-length victory. It was a truly dominant finish engineered by top jockey Rafael Bejarano.
Bejarano, who filled in for injured jockey John Velazaquez, expects to mount Overanalyze for the Derby.
"This is my Derby horse, I'm pretty sure," said Bejarano, according to Jack Shinar of BloodHorse.com. "Thanks to Mr. Pletcher for giving me the opportunity to ride him today."
If true, that is good news for owner Mike Repole, who would undoubtedly like to see this combination team up again at Churchill Downs.
After all, there aren’t many jockeys in the world with a better knowledge and approach than Bejarano. While he hasn’t won the early-May race to this point in his career, he is having a great season and could finally add that accomplishment to his resume.
Overanalyze’s victory on Saturday was the type of impressive win that puts the Todd Pletcher-trained mount back in the discussion as a legitimate contender to win the Kentucky Derby.
As a 2-year-old, Pletcher’s horse won three of its five races to become a strong contender to win roses this year at Churchill Downs.
Prior to the victory, March’s season opener in the Gotham Stakes was the last time we saw the highly touted Overanalyze. The resulting impression from that race wasn’t a good one after its disappointing fifth-place finish there. Making it look easy at Oaklawn Park, though, should alleviate many of the concerns about its chances.
"I think he more than redeemed himself," Repole said, according to Kurt Voigt of the Associated Press. "... I was waiting for the move, and the move came. It just came six weeks later in the Arkansas Derby."
After seeing Overanalyze’s convincing performance on Saturday, we can agree with Pletcher’s decision to rest the 3-year-old colt after that poor showing.
Interestingly, Bejarano said he pulled up on the final 1/16 in order to save some stamina for his mount, according to Voigt. That’s good, because the 3-year-old is going to need all of its strength for the giant task ahead.