2009 was supposed to be the year of Overdose, the undefeated Hungarian sprinter who’d captured the attention of Europe in 2008 after rising from Europe’s backwater circuit of tracks, places like Kincsem Park in Budapest, Bratislava in Slovakia, and Ebreichsdorf in Austria. Purchased as a yearling for only 2000gns at Tattersalls by owner Zoltan Mikóczy, who’s now embroiled in legal problems in Romania, and trainer Sandor Ribarszki, Overdose went undefeated in 12 starts, including his one and only start in 2009 at Kincsem Park, before his brittle feet — always a problem for the British-bred son of Starborough — gave way this year.
Before bad luck intervened on and off the track for the Overdose camp, Overdose had achieved iconic celebrity status in Hungary and was actually featured Seabiscuit-like on the front page of The New York Times — a rare positive spin on racing for the gray paper and a huge international splash for a horse and his connections who were unknown outside of European racing.
Messrs. Mikóczy and Ribarszki, in the meantime, had mapped out an ambitious schedule for their undefeated colt that would have taken them to England, Germany, France, the US, and Hong Kong, and Mr. Mikóczy had syndicated the colt to raise the cash for the world tour. One of the two new partners that Mr. Mikóczy brought in was Mario Hoffman — “the richest man in Slovakia,” according to him.
Mr. Hoffman is the majority owner of Istrokapital SE, a major Slovak corporation with interests in global banking and real estate. Istrokapital has been frequently mentioned in unflattering light in the press, especially in connection to a development deal in Turks & Caicos.
The following is from a Feb. 13, 2009, article:
One of Mr Hoffman’s companies, Istrokapital, has been described as a conduit for ‘Russian money’ and a front for money laundering. In written evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee last year, Istrokapital was described as having the ‘strongest ties to the underworld and is known to draw its muscle from former officers of the Slovak intelligence service.’ The allegations are denied by Mr Hoffman and his company.”
Now, with the high-profile and lurid arrest in Romania of Mr. Mikóczy on Wednesday, news has surfaced from Germany this week that Overdose’s trainer, Sandor Ribarszki, plans to leave Hungary next year to set up shop in Berlin, at Hoppegarten. Overdose, meanwhile, has spent the year on the disabled list, with rehab stints in France and England. He was scheduled to return to Hungary in November, but it’s not the homecoming his connections had anticipated.