Champions Dream Makes the Grade in G3 Nashua

November 6, 2022

Champions Dream up in time to win the G3 Nashua (NYRA/Coglianese)

By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Rosedown Racing Stables’ Champions Dream overcame a troubled start to notch his first graded stakes victory under Irad Ortiz, Jr. in Sunday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Nashua, a one-mile main track test for juveniles, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Danny Gargan, Champions Dream improved from a distant fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Champagne on October 1 here where he was bumped at the start and never threatened over the sloppy and sealed going. This time, the grey son of Justify was not deterred by a rough beginning and went widest of all to claim the three-quarter-length victory. His other win was an impressive wire-to-wire debut maiden score sprinting seven furlongs in September at Saratoga Race Course.

“He’s only run three times. The second time he had a really bad trip, too,” said Gargan. “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 know if they’re going to do it at that level and run home until they’re forced to. He figured it out.”

Champions Dream broke a step slow from post 3 in the compact field of five and was forced to steady after running up on the heels of pacesetter Prove Right when American Speed moved inward from post 5. American Speed tracked in second to the outside and the Manny Franco-piloted Full Moon Madness settled in third along the rail through an opening quarter-mile in 23.10 over the fast main track.

Rounding the turn, American Speed dropped back as Full Moon Madness made a bid two-wide of Prove Right through a half-mile in 46.25. Full Moon Madness was all-out down the lane to collar a stubborn Prove Right at the eighth pole, but Champions Dream, who was third at the stretch call, continued to find more four-wide in the center of the track. The pair of favorites matched strides at the sixteenth pole before Champions Dream took the advantage and drew away to post the victory in a final time of 1:39.17.

It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Prove Right, who finished eight lengths ahead of American Speed. Torrone, who was never involved, was eased home to complete the order of finish. Signator was scratched.

Gargan said he was proud to see Champions Dream overcome the poor start.

“He broke a little flat-footed today. He’s fast and we thought we’d be on the lead,” said Gargan. “Down the backside, Irad said he almost clipped heels and fell. The six-horse 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,” Gargan added. “Irad said he was sitting out there waiting to make his move. He was wide throughout, but he ran really good today.”

The win marked a sweep of Aqueduct’s Sunday stakes for Ortiz, Jr., who piloted Good Sam to victory in the $150,000 Tempted earlier on the card. Ortiz, Jr. said Champions Dream showed courage in victory.

“The plan was to be on the lead or close, but he missed the break so I had to go to ‘Plan B.’ I had to take a hold,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “When he felt the outside horse 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.”

Gargan added Champions Dream will now likely be freshened, while promising Belmont at the Big A maiden winner Dubyuhnell is possible for the Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen on December 3 at the Big A, offering 10-4-3-2-1 qualifying points towards the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.

“I’ll run Dubyuhnell in the Remsen. He broke his maiden here,” Gargan said. “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.”

Champions Dream, who was bred in Kentucky by John C. Oxley, banked $82,500 in victory and improved his record to 3-2-0-0. He returned $4.70 for a $2 win wager.

Franco said the Michelle Nevin-trained Full Moon Madness, who stretched out from three starts at sprint distances, tried his best under new circumstances.

“I had a good trip. The pace was fast and I was able to sit inside,” said Franco. “My horse was traveling so well. It was his first time running the distance, so I think he ran a really good race.”

Live racing resumes Thursday at Aqueduct with a nine-race card. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present live coverage and analysis of the Aqueduct fall meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Bets is the best way to bet every race of the Aqueduct Racetrack fall meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.

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