Hungarian sprinter and national icon Overdose, unbeaten in 14 starts including two in 2010 but only thrice-raced in two years, has returned to the scene of his breakthrough international performance of 2008, Iffezheim Racecourse in the German resort city of Baden-Baden. It was here in 2008 that Overdose won his first Listed race outside the European backwater circuit of Budapest, Bratislava, and Vienna, and almost two years ago to the date, on Aug. 31, 2008, that Overdose won the same race he competes in on Sunday, the Group 2 Goldene Peitsche over 1200 meters—the most prestigious sprint in Germany.
The 3-year-old Overdose of 2008 was a rising superstar after the Goldene Peitsche, and he next was sent to France on Arc weekend for the now-infamous Group 1 Abbaye, a race he “won” and lost the moment the gates sprang open save for one—nulling the event, though Overdose covered the 1000 meters in near-record time. A 10-length win next out in an Italian Group 3 officially cemented the colt’s status as champion 3-year-old European sprinter (1200 meters) on the 2008 World Thoroughbred Rankings with a record of 12 wins without a loss, and his participation in the major international sprints of 2009 was highly anticipated.
The 2009 season began auspiciously enough for Overdose, who made his season debut at Kincsem Park in Budapest with new star rider Christophe Soumillon aboard, winning as he pleased. Since then, however, the 5-year-old son of Starborough, purchased for only 2,000gns by Zoltan Mikoczy at Tattersalls, has been derailed from his quest for glory by bad feet and bad karma. And from then to the present, his and his connections’ stories have read like pulp fiction. His original trainer, Sandor Ribarszki, has been replaced by Jozef Roszival in 2010 after first leaving Hungary to train in Germany and then running into trouble with debts; his principal owner, Mr. Mikoczy, was luridly arrested and charged with fraud in Romania in 2009; and a one-time co-owner of the colt was Slovakian financier Mario Hoffman, whose company Istrokapital has reportedly been a money laundering front with Russian ties and was at the center of a shady development deal in Turks & Caicos that required investigation from the British government.
Meanwhile, Overdose was sent to France and Britain after his April 2009 Kincsem Park debut for treatment for his fragile feet, and he didn’t return to Hungary until the end of the year—and would you believe in a shroud of secrecy as his connections were concerned about repercussions and liens from Romania in connection with the arrest of his owner?
Remarkably cured from the serious foot issues that nearly ended his career but nonetheless still plagued by brittle feet that require special shoes, Overdose is now owned by Mr. Mikoczy (50 percent) and five local Hungarian corporations (each with a 10-percent stake); Mr. Hoffman no longer has an interest in the horse. Overdose has made two starts in 2010, wins at Bratislava and Kincsem Park, and Sunday’s race will mark his first in international competition since he won in Italy in 2008. It will be a tougher race for him than the 2008 edition, because of the competition and the ring rust, but if he goes 15-0 Sunday, make plans for Longchamp on Arc weekend. The Abbaye and unfinished business await.
The 2010 starts: