Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. swept both stakes for two-year-olds at Aqueduct on Sunday. After piloting Good Sam to a daylight score in the $150,000 Tempted S., he galvanized Champions Dream to get up in the $145,500 Nashua (G3).
Both were important winners for their freshman sires, for different reasons. Champions Dream is the fifth stakes winner for Triple Crown star Justify, but his first colt to achieve that distinction. Good Sam broke through as the first stakes winner sired by Good Samaritan.
The slight 1.35-1 second choice, Champions Dream was coming off a subpar fifth in the Champagne (G1) over this same track and one-mile trip. But the Danny Gargan pupil caught a sloppy track last time, and Sunday’s fast surface was a welcome change. Even so, his success wasn’t straightforward.
Champions Dream was a bit slowly away and bumped, pulled while rank for a few strides behind foes, and checked off heels. Ortiz got him settled in fourth by the time pacesetting Prove Right clocked an opening quarter in :23.10.
“The plan was to be on the lead or close,” Ortiz recapped, “but he missed the break so I had to go to ‘Plan B.’ I had to take a hold. He almost clipped heels. When he felt the outside horse (American Speed) come over, he was a little green and made a step in and almost clipped heels. After that, I took a hold of him and he relaxed and came back to me. After that, I took my time with him.”
Full Moon Madness, the 1.30-1 favorite, stalked in a rail-skimming third through the half in :46.25, then advanced passing the six-furlong mark in 1:11.16 and took aim. Champions Dream was also moving well, but taking longer than the favorite, and still more than two lengths back in midstretch.
As Full Moon Madness finally wore down a stubborn Prove Right, Champions Dream began to loom on the outside. The gray forged ahead by three-quarters of a length in 1:39.17.
“I saved some horse for the end,” Ortiz said. “I wasn’t sure if the other horse (Full Moon Madness) could get the distance. It was an honest pace, so I tried to save some horse and wait for the time to go, and I think that was the key.”
Prove Right checked in another 1 1/2 lengths astern in third. There was an eight-length gap back to American Speed, and the ever-trailing Torrone was eased across the wire. Signator was scratched.
Rosedown Racing Stables’ Champions Dream improved his resume to 3-2-0-0, $160,250. He had wired his debut at Saratoga, outperforming the usual effort for a Gargan firster, in a promising sign.
“He broke a little flat-footed today,” Gargan said of the Nashua. “He’s fast and we thought we’d be on the lead. Down the backside, Irad said he almost clipped heels and fell. The six-horse (American Speed) came over on him and he had to check. I was worried for a minute.
“Obviously, he didn’t like the mud the last time we ran him and you never know when you have a horse that’s been speedy, how they’re going to run when they come from off of it. Irad said he was sitting out there waiting to make his move. He was wide throughout, but he ran really good today.
“He’s only run three times. The second time he had a really bad trip, too. Today, he learned how to overcome it. Today is the first time he learned how to finish. First time out, he won pulled up and didn’t know how to finish. You don’t if they’re going to do it at that level and run home until they’re forced too. He figured it out.”
The Nashua serves as a stepping stone to the Dec. 3 Remsen (G2), but Gargan has another juvenile in mind for that Road to the Kentucky Derby points race.
“I’ll run Dubyuhnell in the Remsen. He broke his maiden here. They’re workmates and pretty similar type horses. I’ll take him (Champions Dream) down to Florida, and he’ll get a little break now and then shoot for some races down there.”
Bred by John C. Oxley in Kentucky, Champions Dream brought just $25,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. He turned out to be a pinhook success for Parrish Farms, agent, which resold him for $425,000 at OBS in March. Champions Dream was produced by the Tapit mare Dancinginherdreams, heroine of the 2010 Pocahontas (G2).
Ortiz had a smoother passage aboard 1-2 favorite Good Sam in the Tempted, although they had to survive an objection to keep the trophy.
Trained by Chad Brown, the Peter Brant colorbearer attended the pace set by the battling duo of Foggy Night and Crypto Mama through splits of :23.26 and :46.84. Crypto Mama, who stumbled from post 1 and did well in the circumstances to mix it up early, then felt her exertions and retreated.
Good Sam ranged up to overtake Foggy Night through six furlongs in 1:12.44. When set down in earnest in the lane, Good Sam’s momentum carried her across the path of Foggy Night, forcing her to alter course. Foggy Night’s rider, Paco Lopez, claimed foul, but the stewards allowed the result to stand.
“That horse (Good Sam) did come over and take her lane away,” Foggy Night’s trainer, Butch Reid, observed, “but I guess the stewards didn’t feel it was enough to make a change. But the horse did come over on us a little bit. I’m sure the margin of victory had something to do with it.”
Indeed, Good Sam was much the best by 3 1/2 lengths from Foggy Night. Her final time of 1:38.69 was considerably faster than Champions Dream (1:39.17) in the Nashua.
“I feel like I never bothered the other horse,” Ortiz said. “She went in when she changed leads, but I corrected her and never even hit him (Lopez on Foggy Night). I grabbed her and got her straight, and then I hit her a couple times on the left side and she was going forward.”
Foggy Night was 4 1/2 lengths clear of Rosie’s Alibi. Next came La Vita Sofia, Crypto Mama, and Binsky, who was last at every call.
Now 2-for-2 with $134,750 in the bank, Good Sam was a front-running debut winner in the Aqueduct slop on Oct. 2. The Tempted was a step up from that 6 1/2-furlong maiden.
“This is a nice filly,” Ortiz said. “She deserves all the credit. It was a pretty easy ride out there. She broke good and I took my time with her. Whenever I asked her, she responded.
“She’s mature. Last time, she was a little green in the stretch, and today she was a little better. I think she’s learning.”
Good Sam was bred by Maccabee Farm in Kentucky and first sold for $110,000 as a “short” yearling at Keeneland January. She went to her current connections for $310,000 at the same venue’s September Sale. The bay is a half-sister to stakes-placed Zanadu, and their dam, the Twirling Candy mare Twizzler, is herself a half to multiple Grade 2-placed Awesome Twist and multiple Grade 3-placed stakes scorer A New Twist. Good Sam’s second dam is multiple Grade 1 heroine Twist Afleet.