Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy winner Good Samaritan came out of the race in good shape, according to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, and is headed to the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 26. The Harlan's Holiday colt's first start on dirt after six career starts on turf worked out well, and now has changed plans for the versatile runner's future.
“He confirmed our belief that he is a very good horse, probably the best 2-year-old grass horse in the country last year,” Mott said. “We went into this year thinking maybe he was the best grass 3-year-old, now, I guess, his future for the present times will be on the dirt. I was uncertain what was going to happen. I had to wait and see… I don't think anyone knows for sure what was going to happen. You know, if that was the case, he would not have been 8-1. I thought he might be a bigger price than that. He ran well.”
Plans were made to try Good Samaritan on the dirt sooner, but they were abandoned only because of a little bad racing luck.
“If we would have had the opportunity, we would have tried the dirt last fall, but he got banged up in the Breeders' Cup. We didn't get the chance,” Mott said. “I was thinking about bringing him back in the Remsen last fall after the Breeders' Cup so we could find out. Then he got banged up and we had to give him time and he wasn't ready to go.”
Good Samaritan came from far back to win by 4 ¾ lengths, but the pace of the race was not what the trainer expected.
“I thought there would be more pace. I thought the Preakness winner [Cloud Computing] would be latched on the Derby winner [Always Dreaming]. I thought the horse making his second start [Pavel] would be forcing them, it did not set up exactly the way I thought it would. Once he made the front, I was pretty confident.”
Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming showed no ill effects after setting the pace and fading to third as the favorite in Saturday's Jim Dandy, trainer Todd Pletcher reported Sunday morning.
“He was very sound and seemed to be in good order,” Pletcher said of the son of Bodemeister, who was making his first start since finishing eighth in the Grade 1 Preakness May 20 at Pimlico Race Course.
It was the second straight defeat for Always Dreaming after reeling off four straight victories including the Grade 1 Florida Derby April 1 at Gulfstream Park in his stakes debut. Under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, he raced through sensible fractions of 24.13 and 48.53 seconds and 1:13.27 and took a short lead into the stretch before giving way, beaten 5 ¼ lengths by Good Samaritan.
“He broke brilliantly and actually was like half a length in front immediately and kind of took the lead from there. Johnny said even though the fractions were pretty reasonable he felt like he was just a little bit keen,” Pletcher said. “He hadn't run in over two months and I think that was probably part of it. The racetrack is playing pretty demanding right now, especially in two-turn races, so I think that might have contributed a little bit.
“I was proud of him from the quarter pole to the wire, he kept digging in and kept fighting and he actually galloped out pretty well back in front after the wire,” he added. “We'll see how he trains and take it from there.”
Always Dreaming remains among one of several Pletcher-trained horses under consideration for the Grade 1 Travers August 26 along with Grade 1 Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit, who is training up to the race; Patch, third in the Belmont and running next in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby August 5; and Outplay, impressive winner of the 1 1/8-mile Curlin July 28 at Saratoga.
“We have some decisions to make and plenty of time to figure it out and see how they're training,” Pletcher said. “Hopefully we have the same problem four weeks from now.”
The Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on the Travers Day undercard is possible for the undefeated Coal Front, a front-running 1 ½-length winner of the Grade 2 Amsterdam on Saturday in just his third career start and stakes debut.
“We've always been impressed by the horse. He's always trained very well,” Pletcher said. “His first two starts we thought were pretty impressive so we were happy to see his performance but I can't say we were surprised by it.
“The Allen Jerkens would certainly be a consideration but we've also talked about possibly stretching him out at some point,” he added. “We'll monitor how he's training after this race and see what makes the most sense for his next start.”
Pletcher said Keen Ice remains on target for the Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney August 5. An upset winner of the Grade 2 Suburban July 8 at Belmont Park in his last start, the 5-year-old son of Hall of Famer Curlin worked a half-mile in 49.09 seconds over Saratoga's main track Saturday morning.
“He came out the work excellent,” he said. “He's ready to go.”
Mossarosa's Giuseppe the Great was a little tired but in his usual playful, biting mood on Sunday morning following his closing second-place finish in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy. Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito was also in a good mood, but had mixed emotions following morning training.
“This is like a bitter thing,” Zito said. “I asked God to forgive me this morning because you've got to be elated to have a wonderful horse like this, and have the chance to go forward. Then I looked it over, and I said well how many times can you beat a Derby winner a Preakness winner, some horse from California and not win the race with a five-horse field. It shows you that racing is unbelievable. You have to beat them home, right or wrong?”
The colt by Lookin At Lucky ran in his third graded race, finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Dwyer after his second-place finish in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens. Now he has the chance to run in the famed Mid-Summer Derby on August 26.
“You know, he ran second, but I think if Always Dreaming won or Cloud Computing? That's what shows me my theory is right. If you don't run you can't lose, if you're not in it you can't win it,” Zito said. “The only thing I was a little concerned with is that I removed the blinkers, but it didn't matter. He was consistent, and the reason I did that was he was keen leaving the gate. [Jockey] Luis [Saez] did a great job. He left the gate he was keen. Then he put him behind horses, but he could've went up forward, so I was happy. One thing is he's a fighter. He will run. He will get the distance. He'll get the mile and a quarter. If he has a couple of great weeks, he's in the Travers. Period.
“He's a very intriguing horse,” he added. “[He's run] six, six and a half, seven eights, a mile, now a mile and an eighth. He's just improving with everything you do. He's very consistent. If you say you're going to be second in the Travers, where do we sign, right?”
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