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.”
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Jim Dandy Winner Good Samaritan in Fine Fettle
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.”
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