by Teresa Genaro
It’s a little early to say that the three-year-old picture is in disarray after Saturday’s $588,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga, but after Good Samaritan won the race by 4 3/4 lengths, beating both the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness winners (G1), owner/breeder Elliott Walden of WinStar Farm said, confidently, that the race for end-of-year honors is “definitely jumbled up.”
The fourth choice in a five-horse field, Good Samaritan under Joel Rosario raced a dozen lengths behind the pacesetting Always Dreaming, who opened up a nice margin heading up the backstretch. Coming back to the field quickly, the Kentucky Derby winner was challenged by Cloud Computing coming around the far turn, the duo joined by Pavel as they headed into the stretch.
Giuseppe the Great, the 14-1 longshot, and 8-1 fourth choice Good Samaritan raced in tandem. However, as Giuseppe the Great stayed with the three leaders, the four of them racing as a wall across the track, Good Samaritan went by them easily, drawing off to finish the nine furlongs in 1:50.69.
The win came on Mott’s 64th birthday, and birthday winners are becoming something of a Saratoga tradition for the Hall of Fame trainer.
The other four horses hit the wire in a blanket finish. Giuseppe the Great was a half-length ahead of Always Dreaming. Pavel was a head back in fourth, with Cloud Computing last by that same margin.
Good Samaritan was making his first start on dirt, having run on the turf for the first six races of his career, compiling a 2-2-1 record, the third-place finish coming in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). Most recently he was fourth in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) earlier this month.
Walden and Mott had planned to start the Harlan’s Holiday colt on the Kentucky Derby trail, but after missing the early races because of an ankle chip, they decided to wait until after the Belmont Derby to make the surface switch. They had also considered running him last year in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), a race in which he was cross-entered.
“We decided against it that day,” Walden said. “Now I wish we didn’t.”
Out of the Pulpit mare Pull Dancer, Good Samaritan is owned in partnership by WinStar, Head of Plains Partners, China Horse Club International and SF Racing Group. He was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm.
Both Mott and Walden said that the bay colt will be pointed to the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on August 26.
“He looked like he grew wings coming through the stretch,” an impressed Mott said. “He looks like he’s going to become a major force on the dirt.”