Tom Pedulla presents five major takeaways from the Grade 2 $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course:
Not So Dreamy: Always Dreaming, so impressive in the Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, has lost his luster. He was a major disappointment when he backed up to be eighth in the Preakness.
Trainer Todd Pletcher offered no excuse when the colt could not sustain reasonable fractions in the Jim Dandy in fading to third on what had been a speed-favoring track throughout the afternoon.
Not surprisingly, Pletcher was noncommittal when asked if Always Dreaming will go on to the Travers Stakes on Aug. 26.
Beneficial Change: Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott had been looking for an opportune time to test Good Samaritan on dirt after the Harlan’s Holiday colt did well in making his first six career starts on turf. He found it in the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy, which offered enough pace to allow Good Samaritan to rally from last to first with a strong closing kick.
Next comes the acid test: the 1 ¼-mile Travers.
Cloudy Picture: Cloud Computing, the Preakness winner, is as much of a puzzle as Always Dreaming. In his first start since he took the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, who would have imagined that he would back up to last in the small, but select Jim Dandy field of five?
Trainer Chad Brown was a man of few words in attempting to explain what might have gone wrong.
“He seemed to struggle with the track,” Brown said. “He just didn’t have it, and that’s about it.”
One to Watch: Trainer Doug O’Neill and owner Paul Reddam sure knew what they were doing when they sent Pavel into the fray after he took his first career start by 4 ½ lengths at Santa Anita on July 1. The gray or roan son of Creative Cause showed he belonged when he battled for the lead as they turned for home before weakening to be fourth. It was a tremendous performance for such a lightly-raced youngster and bodes well for his future.
Back on Track: Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, who has struggled in recent years, may finally have his hands on a good horse again. He had to be encouraged when Giuseppe the Great, racing without blinkers in a significant equipment change, finished second to Good Samaritan, a significant improvement from his fourth-place showing in the one-mile Dwyer Stakes on July 8.