Niko’s Dream gets up in time to upset Gulfstream AOC for team Sackatoga

Monday, May 18th, 2020

Coglianese Photos / Lauren King

By Sarah Mace

On the Sunday of what would have been Preakness weekend – had the traditional Triple Crown schedule not been scrambled courtesy of COVID-19 – Sackatoga Stable and trainer Barclay Tagg got a nice boost at Gulfstream Park while patiently awaiting the time when their star sophomore Tiz the Law can compete in the 2020 classics. Niko’s Dream, a 4-year-old filly by New York sire Central Banker with solid back class, got up just in time to defeat a strong field of eight in a first-level allowance / optional claiming contest run at 1 1/6 miles over “good” turf.

Fifth choice in the wagering at 11-1 odds behind higher profile rivals, Niko’s Dream brought consistency and back class to the race. Already on her resume were seven placings in 11 prior starts (all on turf), including a pair of runner-up finishes to the talented Kid Is Frosty in divisions of the New York Stallion Stakes Series last summer: Belmont’s Cupecoy’s Joy, where she missed by a neck, and Saratoga’s Statue of Liberty where she finished three lengths back. Dylan Davis, aboard for the filly’s seasonal debut on March 20, a fifth-place finish just two lengths behind the winner at the same trip at Gulfstream, had the call.

Drawn in post six (of eight), Niko’s Dream was outrun in the trip to the clubhouse turn, traveling about eight lengths off the pace with only one horse beaten, but securing a ground-saving trip around the bend. Patient early in the backstretch run, Niko’s Dream tugged her way into the midst of the mid-pack scrum as the half went in 47.92.

Advancing into contention in the turn three-wide, but stuck behind a wall of five horses, Niko’s Dream angled out widest of all for the sprint home and launched her bid.

By mid-stretch Niko’s Dream had four horses left to pass and two lengths to make up. She lowered her head, stretched out her neck and lengthened her stride to erase the deficit and, ultimately, get up to win by a neck. She completed the 1 1/16 miles in a sharp 1:41.58.

Hotsy Totsy, a Christophe Clement trainee coming off a long layoff and the 3-2 favorite, was second in the blanket finish, followed a head back by Music of Life and Isla Road, who dead-heated for third.

The victory improved Niko’s Dream’s record to three wins, four seconds and third in 12 starts and boosted her bankroll to $196,050.

Bred by Nick Peros, Niko’s Dream is the first foal out of Adriatic Dream, New York-bred daughter of Wild Desert who was stakes placed on turf. She has produced two full sisters to Niko’s Dream, Adriatic Holiday and Adriatic Rose, and yearling colt by Laoban.

Niko’s Dream was offered once at public auction, the 2017 OBS October yearling sale, where she was a $32,000 buyback.

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