Dakota Gold leads 1-3 finish for NY-breds in Nownownow

Sunday, September 26th, 2021

Dakota Gold and jockey Isaac Castillo win Sunday’s $500,000 Nownownow Stakes at Monmouth Park. Ryan Denver/ EQUI-PHOTO.

By Tom Law

Trainer Danny Gargan made the trip to the Jersey Shore looking for one thing Sunday afternoon.

“When we came here, we were hoping to be 1-2 for the Breeders’ Cup,” Gargan said after the featured $500,000 Nownownow Stakes on the Closing Day card at Monmouth Park. “So, as long as everything comes out well from here, hopefully we’ll go to Del Mar.”

Better book the flight.

Gargan and owners Dean and Patti Reeves have reason to look ahead to the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar after Dakota Gold ran his record to 2-for-2 with a powerful victory over open company in the Nownownow for 2-year-olds on the grass.

Ridden by 23-year-old Isaac Castillo, Dakota Gold tracked in mid-pack early, followed the moves of fellow New York-bred and 4-5 favorite Coinage for three quarters of the 1-mile turf stakes and rolled through the lane to a 2 1/2-length victory over Royal Spirit. Coinage, winner of the Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes Sept. 1 at Saratoga Race Course, finished third in the field of nine.

“Tremendous ride,” Gargan said after Castillo rode Dakota Gold to victory in 1:36.31 over the turf rated good.

The 5-1 second choice, Dakota Gold came into the Nownownow off a 4 1/2-length victory in an off-the-turf open-company maiden race going 5 1/2 furlongs Sept. 2 at Saratoga.

“We trained him on the grass, so that’s where we were looking to get him started,” Gargan said. “He’s a nice quality colt. Just a beautiful animal. We ran him against open company the first time because the timing was right and we wanted to get a race in him. We had him ready.

“When it came off the turf we knew he had also worked well on the dirt so we were fine with it.”

Gargan said he would have been comfortable running the son of Freud on either the dirt or turf Sunday. The weather cooperated the left the Nownownow, boosted from its original $150,000 purse to entice potential Breeders’ Cup hopefuls to use the race as a final prep before going to California in early November, on the grass.

“I just couldn’t wait to get him on the grass,” Gargan said. “We knew he had this kind of turn of foot on the grass. There was some pace in the race and he just flew by. When the jockey asked him he just galloped by. It was pretty impressive. You get lucky and get a horse like this once in a while. I think this horse has as much talent as any younger horse I’ve ever had.”

Grooms All Bizness and Pure Panic set the early pace before There Are No Words and jockey Jose Ferrer took over with a 2 1/2-length lead through the opening half-mile in :45.56. Grooms All Bizness and Pure Panic tracked behind the leader at that point, with Coinage and jockey Junior Alvarado tracking about three paths off the fence. Castillo also kept Dakota Gold in the clear and well off the rail up the backstretch, and followed Coinage’s move around the far turn as There Are No Words passed the 6-furlong mark in 1:10.82.

There Are No Words’ lead didn’t last long in the lane as Dakota Gold uncorked from fifth while four wide. Dakota Gold opened up past the eighth pole while Royal Spirit rallied for the place spot, 6 lengths clear of Coinage.

“There was a New York-bred race today at Belmont at seventh-eighths on the dirt,” Gargan said of the Bertram F. Bongard. “Dean and I discussed it and I really wanted to run here. I’m just glad I got the opportunity to do it and Dean gave me a chance. I told him if we win this we can go to the Breeders’ Cup, so I think Dean is going to let me going to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Bred by Sequel Thoroughbreds and Ron Bowden and foaled at The New Hill Farm in Hoosick Falls, Dakota Gold became the 72nd stakes winner sired by longtime leading New York sire Freud in the Nownownow. A 23-year-old son of Storm Cat who stands for $5,000 at Sequel Stallions New York in Hudson, Freud came into the day third on the New York general sire list and the $300,000 earned Sunday by Dakota Gold figures to move him into second in the final days of September.

Dakota Gold is the second foal out of the winning Lemon Drop Kid mare Dakota Kid. A half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner and $1,282,810-earner Dakota Phone, Dakota Kid is also the dam of the unraced 3-year-old Freud filly Dakota Dancer currently in training at Belmont Park. Reeves Thoroughbred Racing purchased Dakota Gold as a weanling selling as Hip 106 for $83,000 out of The New Hill Farm’s consignment at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed sale.

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