07/29/2017 8:12PM

Good Samaritan brings home upset in Jim Dandy Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Good Samaritan paid $19.20 in winning the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - As he watched the horses turn down the Saratoga backside with Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming cruising on an uncontested lead, trainer Bill Mott wondered if he had made the right choice having Good Samaritan make his dirt debut in the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes.

“He was on such an easy lead I didn’t think it would be possible to catch him at that time,” Mott said.

But Always Dreaming couldn’t sustain his early advantage, and when Preakness winner Cloud Computing failed to fire, it was Good Samaritan who circled the field under Joel Rosario, rallying from 12 1/2 lengths back to win the Jim Dandy by 4 3/4 lengths.

Giuseppe the Great, the longest shot in the field at 14-1, rallied from next to last to get second by a half-length over Always Dreaming, who won a three-way photo over Pavel, who was fourth, and Cloud Computing, who finished last.

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The win came on trainer Bill Mott’s 64th birthday and continued his uncanny success on this day. Mott has now won a race on his birthday in 16 of the last 21 years when racing was conducted on this day.

Good Samaritan’s pedigree - he’s a son of Harlan’s Holiday out of the Pulpit mare Pull Dancer - suggested he should be a dirt horse. But he debuted on turf last year here, and won. He then won a stakes at Woodbine and was favored in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, where he finished third.

An ankle chip that required surgery forced him to miss the Triple Crown season. After three starts on turf - the last one being a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby - the decision was made to try the dirt.

“I’m not going to say I knew he was going to win, but I definitely felt like he deserved the opportunity,” said Elliott Walden, president and CEO of WinStar Farm, which owns Good Samaritan with Head of Plains Partners. “He’s by Harlan’s Holiday out of a Pulpit mare, it’s ridiculous not to try it at some point even though he’s a high-class horse on the grass.”

Said Mott: “We actually discussed waiting for the Travers for his first [dirt] race. Last week, we came to the conclusion we should try this race.”

Good Samaritan is a closer, and one thing Mott thought would benefit his horse was the expectation of a strong and contested pace. But Always Dreaming, under John Velazquez, had a 3 1/2-length lead while running a half-mile in 48.53 seconds. Good Samaritan was 12 1/2 lengths back.

“I thought the whole field was in trouble at that point,” Mott said.

Around the far turn, Cloud Computing and Pavel engaged Always Dreaming, but neither could get by him. Gisueppe the Great rallied five wide and Good Samaritan followed him while racing six wide.

Good Samaritan took over from Always Dreaming inside the eighth pole and widened his advantage while the four horses behind him duked it out for second.

Good Samaritan covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.69 and returned $19.20.

“When I passed the three-eighths pole he gave me a very good feeling, he was getting over the track very nice,” Rosario said. “I tried to save a little ground and stay where I was before turning for home. He was on his game today.”

Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing were not on their game. Always Dreaming’s performance befuddled his trainer, Todd Pletcher, who felt the horse was struggling on the far turn, saw him fight back in upper stretch and then watched him gallop out ahead of the field past the finish line.

“After the wire he galloped out in front,” Pletcher said. “Johnny said he could hardly pull him up around the turn. We need to work him, getting him to settle a bit the first part.”

Chad Brown, the trainer of Cloud Computing, said he thought Pavel would run with Always Dreaming early, setting up a similar pace scenario as the Preakness.
“The horse just could never get by Always Dreaming and of course the rest of the horses passed him late,” Brown said. “He just seemed real tired when he came back to me. Obviously, we have to investigate, scope him and go through all the normal protocols after a race. Right now, all I can say it was a disappointing result.”

While Good Samaritan will definitely run back in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 26, it remains to be seen if Always Dreaming or Cloud Computing will be there with him.