01/30/2015 6:15PM

Saratoga Dreamer adapts to dirt in Rego Park

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Saratoga Dreamer (4), racing on dirt for the first time, scores by a neck under Irad Ortiz Jr. in the Rego Park for New York-bred 3-year-olds.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Christophe Clement’s great dirt experiment with Saratoga Dreamer was a success.

Saratoga Dreamer, who had made his first two starts on turf with mixed results, made a triumphant dirt debut Friday at Aqueduct, overcoming some bad pre-race behavior and a stubborn stretch foe in Regal Minister to win the inaugural  $125,000 Rego Park Stakes by a neck. Regal Minister, who set the pace under Jose Ortiz, had to settle for second, 4 1/4 lengths clear of Drama King.

Breakin the Fever, Agent Van Alden, Deficit Hawk - the 3-5 favorite - and a stumbling Chasing Bubbles completed the order of finish.

The win was the first over Aqueduct’s inner track for Clement, who made a late decision to supplement Saratoga Dreamer to the race and ship him up from Florida. The Rego Park, restricted to New York-bred 3-year-olds, was originally scheduled for Jan. 24, but was postponed when that day’s card was canceled due to inclement weather.

Saratoga Dreamer put in bullet workout over the inner track on Jan. 25, which was foretelling for his ability to handle the dirt on Friday.

Saratoga Dreamer was reluctant to load, needing the assistant starters to blindfold him in order to get him into the gate.

“This was only his third start, maybe he was a little green; when he saw the gate he started to give a little problem but as soon as they put the blindfold on he was okay and went in perfect,” Irad Ortiz Jr. said.

Saratoga Dreamer broke running, chasing the pacesetting Regal Minister early before falling into an inside stalking trip behind Regal Minister and Breakin the Fever and inside of Deficit Hawk.

Around the far turn, Ortiz slipped Saratoga Dreamer three wide and turning for home he took up pursuit of Regal Minister, who put away Breakin the Fever and opened up a clear advantage in midstretch. Under persistent left-handed urging, Saratoga Dreamer outdueled Regal Minister to the wire.

Saratoga Dreamer, a son of Elusive Quality owned by Peter Deutsch, covered the six furlongs in 1:12.83 and returned $8.70 as the second choice.

“I don’t have to use my horse the first part of the race, I just save him for the end and he give me a good kick,” Ortiz said. “I ride the horse twice and he won twice, both on dirt and the grass. If the trainer asked me right now” which surface Saratoga Dreamer prefers, “I wouldn’t know what to say,” Ortiz said.

Clement, speaking by phone from Florida, said he would likely bring the horse back to his Payson Park headquarters and freshen him up for the spring before determining which surface he will run.

Clement expressed disappointment with Saratoga Dreamer’s pre-race behavior noting “it’s something we spent a tremendous amount of time working on” since the colt blew up behind the gate prior to his start in the Summer Stakes, where he finished last at Woodbine in September.

Kendrick Carmouche, on the beaten favorite Deficit Hawk, said he was sitting perfect outside of Saratoga Dreamer down the backside but “when the running started I just had no horse underneath me.”