Birth­day wish: More Mott magic at Saratoga

The Sentinel-Record - - FRONT PAGE - BOB WISENER

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Turn­ing

64 on Satur­day, Bill Mott cel­e­brated his birth­day in the win­ner’s cir­cle at Saratoga Race Course.

An­other case of good tim­ing for the Hall of Fame trainer, and win­ning a ma­jor race with a horse switch­ing sur­faces.

Mott took a page from the Cigar play­book and won the Jim Dandy Stakes with a pre­vi­ous turfer mak­ing his first start on dirt. Good Sa­mar­i­tan, with a strong late kick, up­set the Ken­tucky Derby and Preak­ness win­ners in Saratoga’s Grade

2 $600,000 prep for the Aug. 26 Grade 1 Travers Stakes.

“El­liott Walden (pres­i­dent/CEO of WinS­tar Farm) had been try­ing to get me to run him on the dirt ever since the Breed­ers’ Cup last Novem­ber,” Mott said. “We … missed some of the Triple Crown prep races and we de­cided … to con­tinue on the grass and point to­ward the Bel­mont Derby (July 8), which he ran very good there. We ac­tu­ally dis­cussed wait­ing for the Travers for his first race (on the dirt). Last week, we came to the con­clu­sion that we should try this race.”

Last of five early, the Har­lan’s Hol­i­day colt fin­ished a sur­pris­ing 4 3/4 lengths in front af­ter a fast-rated nine fur­longs in 1:50.69. Rid­den by Joel Rosario, Good Sa­mar­i­tan paid $19.20, $5.60 and $3.50. He and Giuseppe the Great keyed an un­likely ex­acta pay­ing $145, the lat­ter graded stakes placed in his last two starts but el­i­gi­ble for an en­try-level al­lowance.

“It’s awe­some (to win on Mott’s birth­day),” said Rosario. “I am happy for Bill. He al­ways gives me good horses.”

Derby win­ner Al­ways Dream­ing fin­ished a tir­ing third as even-money fa­vorite, beaten 5 1/4 lengths and deny­ing trainer Todd Pletcher and Hall of Fame jockey John Ve­lazquez a fifth win­ner on the card. The Bode­meis­ter colt broke quickly from the rail post, go­ing the first mile in 1:38.23, but was un­der siege turn­ing for home and saved the show spot by a head over Pavel.

Preak­ness win­ner Cloud Com­put­ing, who like Al­ways Dream­ing had not raced since May 20, fin­ished last af­ter press­ing the pace, Javier Castel­lano rid­ing for trainer Chad Brown.

Mott, mean­while, won a Saratoga race on his birth­day for the 16th time in 24 years, ac­cord­ing to New York Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion records. July 29 was a dark day in the track’s 2014 rac­ing sea­son, and Mott was shut out on his birth­day the last two years.

Find­ing class re­lief from Os­car Per­for­mance, who de­feated the bay colt in his last two starts at Bel­mont Park and also in last year’s Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile Turf at Santa Anita, Good Sa­mar­i­tan fur­ther mud­dled the peck­ing or­der in the 3-year-old male divi­sion.

Spoil­ing the first Jim Dandy matchup of the Ken­tucky Derby and Preak­ness win­ners, Good Sa­mar­i­tan evoked mem­o­ries of the Mott-trained Cigar, who won 16 con­sec­u­tive races and twice was named Horse of the Year af­ter switch­ing from turf to dirt.

Good Sa­mar­i­tan ran on the Derby un­der­card but in the Grade 2 Amer­i­can Turf, fin­ish­ing sec­ond by a length to Ark­low. Overnight, he’s be­come a ma­jor player in the 3-year-old divi­sion, which af­ter three dif­fer­ent win­ners in the Triple Crown se­ries re­mains wide open as Au­gust ap­proaches.

“We’ll cer­tainly nom­i­nate for the Travers and we’ll talk about it,” Mott said. “I don’t see why we wouldn’t give it a try.”

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