Outstanding sire Tapit notched a graded turf double at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Woodford Racing’s Ticonderoga uncorked a brilliant late burst to win the $100,000 Palm Beach (G3), and John C. Oxley’s homebred Dream Dancing got up in a thriller in the $100,000 Herecomesthebride (G3).
Ticonderoga, an $850,000 Keeneland September yearling out of millionaire Keertana, was one of last season’s most prominent turf juveniles. Although the Chad Brown trainee was better known for his efforts in defeat, they marked him as a hot prospect. Very green when missing by a head to next-out Summer (G2) winner Good Samaritan at Saratoga, Ticonderoga came right back to romp at Belmont Park. He was a slow-starting, but fast-finishing, second in the Bourbon (G3), and an heroic fourth from post 14 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Santa Anita.
Making his three-year-old bow in the Palm Beach, Ticonderoga showed that he’s learning his craft – and that’s bad news for the rest of the sophomore turf division. New rider Joel Rosario was able to drop back, angle over from post 9, and save ground early. Up front, Sailing Home carved out fractions of :23.34, :47.58, and 1:11.22 on the firm course before being overtaken by Kitten’s Cat.
Ticonderoga traveled sweetly every step of the way, advanced on the fence before peeling out for the drive, and simply inhaled them to win going away. Punching one length clear of Kitten’s Cat, the slight 5-2 favorite completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.38. Market rival Snap Decision, off at nearly 3-1, rallied belatedly from last for third.
With this breakthrough on his resume, Ticonderoga has now earned $221,120 from his 5-2-2-0 line. Brown said in the postrace interview that the bay has had his quirks, but he’s maturing mentally now. He’s likely to be seen at Keeneland next, and his main aim is the $1.2 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) on July 8.
Earlier, three-year-old turf fillies took to the course for the Herecomesthebride, and Dream Dancing found room in the nick of time to nip 6-5 favorite Coasted.
The 9-5 second choice, Dream Dancing bided her time at the back of the pack as longshot Conquest Hardcandy got away with splits of :23.43, :47.78, and 1:11.53. Coasted, who hopped at the start, steadily improved her position and reached contention on the far turn. When the favorite struck the front in midstretch, Dream Dancing was strung up in traffic and looked an unlucky loser. But jockey Julien Leparoux threaded a way through on the inside, and the Mark Casse filly got up by a neck.
Dream Dancing negotiated 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.78, recording her first stakes win and improving her mark to 7-3-1-0, $180,760. The Kentucky-bred gray was gaining revenge on Coasted for beating her on debut over the Saratoga turf. After breaking her maiden next time at the Spa, Dream Dancing was given a chance on dirt, but was unplaced in the Pocahontas (G2), Alcibiades (G1), and Golden Rod (G2). Back on turf for her sophomore bow at Gulfstream, she readily won an allowance and made it two straight here.
A half-sister to Grade 2-placed Awesome Sky and Grade 3-placed Sky Dreamer, Dream Dancing descends from a pair of past Oxley stars. Her dam, the unraced To Dream About, is by 2001 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Monarchos and out of champion Beautiful Pleasure.