May 26, 2024

Good Samaritan, Giuseppe the Great and Always Dreaming all fine after Jim Dandy runs

Good Samaritan and jockey Joel Rosario win the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga on Saturday, July 29, 2017 (c) NYRA/Viola Jasko/Adam Coglianese Photography

Good Samaritan exited his upset win in Saturday’s Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga in good order, according to trainer Bill Mott, and will now target the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) on August 26 at the Spa.

“I thought there would be more pace (in the Jim Dandy),” Mott said. “I thought the Preakness (G1) winner (Cloud Computing) would be latched on the (Kentucky) Derby (G1) 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.”

Good Samaritan was trying dirt for the first time in his career, having raced exclusively on turf prior to the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy. After breaking his maiden in his debut last August at Saratoga, he captured the Summer Stakes (Can-G2) at Woodbine and ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Santa Anita Park.

The lightly raced Harlan’s Holiday colt kicked off 2017 with a pair of runner-up efforts in the American Turf Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on May 6 and Belmont Park’s Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3) on June 3. He entered the Jim Dandy off a fourth-place run in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) on July 8.

“He confirmed our belief that he is a very good horse, probably the best two-year-old grass horse in the country last year,” Mott stated. “We went into this year thinking maybe he was the best grass three-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.”

Good Samaritan was scheduled to try the main track as a juvenile, but “got banged up in the Breeders’ Cup,” according to Mott, and was given some time off.

“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 (G2) 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.”

Giuseppe the Great closed late with Good Samaritan and proved best of the rest, a half-length up on Always Dreaming crossing under the wire. The Nick Zito-trained bay exited the race a little tired but was his usual playful, biting-self Sunday morning.

“This is like a bitter thing,” trainer Nick 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?”

Giuseppe the Great boasts just one win thus far, that coming when breaking his maiden in his third try. He finished second in his stakes bow, the Woody Stephens Stakes (G2), and entered the Jim Dandy off a fourth-place effort in the Dwyer Stakes (G3).

Like Good Samaritan, Giuseppe the Great is now targeting the Travers Stakes.

“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,” Zito added of the Lookin at Lucky colt. “(He’s run) six, six and a half, seven-eighths, 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?”

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming also exited the Jim Dandy well, trainer Todd Pletcher said. The Bodemeister colt set the pace as the even-money favorite in the race before being collared by both Good Samaritan and Giuseppe the Great to finish third on the wire.

“He was very sound and seemed to be in good order,” Pletcher said.

Always Dreaming entered the Jim Dandy off his first unplaced effort when eighth in the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico on May 20. Before that, the dark bay sophomore scored four straight wins, including the Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby.

“He broke brilliantly and actually was like half a length in front immediately and kind of took the lead from there. (Jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) 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,” the horseman added. “We’ll see how he trains and take it from there.”

Always Dreaming could get a rematch with Good Samaritan and Giuseppe the Great in the Travers Stakes. He and fellow Pletcher trainees Tapwrit, Patch and Outplay are under consideration for that 1 1/4-mile affair.

“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.”

Coal Front, another Pletcher charge, came out of his winning-stakes debut in the Amsterdam Stakes (G2) on Saturday well and is possible for the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) on the Travers Day undercard.

“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. We’ll monitor how he’s training after this race and see what makes the most sense for his next start.”

Also on Saturday at Saratoga, Hunter O’Riley earned his first stakes victory in the Bowling Green Handicap (G2) for trainer Jimmy Toner. The horseman said Sunday that his charge came out of the 1 3/8-mile turf contest in good order.

“He came back very good, he’s very happy I’m very proud of him,” Toner said. “I saw him making his move and I thought he could get a piece of it, but as he came on, I was trying to figure out if he could get second or third. All of a sudden, he won. I just watched him pass one by one. For him to get up and win like that, it was very exciting.”

Hunter O’Riley entered the Bowling Green off a close fifth-place run, beaten only 2 1/2 lengths, in the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup Invitational (G3) on June 9.

“He tries hard every time he runs and gives you everything,” Toner said. “The problem with two-mile races is the (competition). Last time there were four European horses in front of him. They’re used to that type of racing and slow it down. They’re kicking, but they kick off in front of him, so it’s hard to catch them. Yesterday, there was enough legitimate pace where he was able to make his run.”

Toner said Hunter O’Riley has enjoyed his time at Saratoga.

“He’s done well since he’s come up here,” Toner said. “He loves the track and had been training good.

“He’s a neat horse to be around. He’s just a happy horse. He’s always so giving and willing; he’s a lunch-pail kind of a guy. He loves to do his job and loves his training.”