Jess's Dream rallies from far back to give mama 'Rachel' a second winner
Three weeks after her two-year-old daughter Rachel's Valentina scored an impressive two-length win in her six-furlong debut at Saratoga, that one's three-year-old half-brother Jess's Dream registered an improbable come-from-behind victory Monday over the same track going nine furlongs.
Last of seven entering the first turn, Jess's Dream, a son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, continued to lag well behind the field down the backside. Down 18 1/2 lengths at the first call and 13 lengths after six furlongs, it appeared to all but the most hardened optimists Jess's Dream could not muster a sufficient rally to contend.
Under John Velazquez, the colt began to pick up steam rounding the turn, was seven wide passing the eighth pole with 6 1/2 lengths still to find, and motored to the lead in the final stages to win by a length in time of 1:49.06 over a fast track. The 3-1 second choice, Jess's Dream paid $8.50.
"I worked him once a couple months ago; I broke him out of the gate and I hustled him, hustled him, hustled him, so I knew he had no speed," Velazquez said. "I broke today and left him alone until he was ready. At the half-mile pole I started getting after him and he started catching up to horses. Once he caught up to the group, he knew it was time to run.
"I left him alone for so long. At the half-mile pole I thought I was too far back. I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was going to start running. Once he started rolling at the quarter-mile pole, I thought I might have a chance to win. I put him on the outside and he went by."
Jess's Dream is owned by Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Stable. Banke is the widow of Jess Jackson, the noted vintner who campaigned both Curlin and Rachel Alexandra in partnership.
"It wasn't easy to get him to the races," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin revealed. "We've had him for a year but it's taken a year to get him here. It was like a Grade 1. It was pretty special because of who it is and listening to the fans clap. It's great to win here at Saratoga with this horse because they appreciate him.
"He showed his potential today. He's never had any issues, other than the pharyngitis. It was because of who he was that we kept trying to get specialists involved and figure it out. It worked out and he's a very talented horse. [Stonestreet Stables] is great to train for and it's a privilege to have him in the barn; it's a lot of fun.
"He'll get better with racing. An [allowance race] at Belmont is probably next for him, or the Travers (G1), one of the two. No, an [allowance race] is next. That was great."
Jess's Dream earned $49,800 for the victory. Meanwhile, Rachel's Valentina is likely targeting the $350,000 Spinaway (G1) over seven furlongs September 5.
(Jess's Dream photo: NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)