Good Samaritan kicked off his four-year-old campaign on a winning note Saturday in the $376,000 New Orleans H. (G2) at Fair Grounds, but the race was marred by the easing of odds-on favorite The Player passing the quarter pole due to a reported fracture in his right front.
Good Samaritan trailed the field of five by as many as nine lengths off pacesetting The Player, the 4-5 choice who set early fractions of :23.88 and :48.18. Around the far turn approaching the three-quarter mark, The Player yielded readily to Scuba and Han Sense and was soon eased out of the race by Calvin Borel.
In upper stretch Hollywood Handsome took a brief lead, but Good Samaritan picked up steam and got past that one by the eighth pole. He extended his margin to 2 1/4 lengths at the line, finishing up 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:49.87.
Owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, SF Racing, and Head of Plains Partners, the Bill Mott trainee returned $4.60 as the 13-10 second choice with Joel Rosario up. Hollywood Handsome was second by five lengths over Scuba, with Han Sense more than nine lengths behind in fourth. The Player was vanned off. Leofric was scratched.
Good Samaritan made his first six starts on grass, winning the Summer (G2) at Woodbine in his second start before finishing a hard-luck third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). Second in the American Turf (G2) and Pennine Ridge (G3) to start his sophomore season, he next ran fourth in the Belmont Derby (G1) before switching to dirt and beating classic winners Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing in the Jim Dandy (G2).
Fifth in the Travers (G1) and fourth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) in his next two starts, Good Samaritan ended the 2017 season on a hopeful note when a half-length second to Seeking the Soul in the Clark H. (G1). His record now stands at 11-4-3-1, $1,191,116.
“We’d like to a win a Grade 1 on the dirt with him,” said Elliott Walden of WinStar, who was non-committal about what the colt’s next start might be. “Not to say we wouldn’t try turf again because he’s such a versatile horse.”
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar, Good Samaritan is out of the multiple stakes-placed Pull Dancer, by Pulpit. He hails from the extended family juvenile filly champion Outstandingly, Grade 1 winner Sky Mesa, and noted sire Bernstein, among others.
NEW ORLEANS HANDICAP QUOTES
Riley Mott, assistant trainer Good Samaritan, winner
“It was nice to see them pressing toward the middle of the backside. (Jockey) Joel (Rosario) knows the horse and he knows he’ll give him a run. We were confident he’d put in the run that he did and he had the long stretch to do it and it all worked out.
“He’s a pure racehorse. He can run on dirt, turf, multiple distances. We really have an array of options but we’d love to get a Grade 1 on the dirt with him; that’s the primary goal.”
William “Buff” Bradley, trainer The Player, pulled up
“He broke both sesamoids in his right front leg. He’s at the LSU clinic and is comfortable. He is going to have surgery to fuse the ankle on Monday. You worry about complications, but I talked to (co-owner) Carl (Hurst) and we are going to do everything we can for him within reason.”