The tendency is to place too much stock in the result of a single race. That being said, it is easy to imagine Good Samaritan racing fastest of all down the Saratoga stretch on his way to victory in the 2017 Travers Stakes.
The son of Harlan's Holiday will be facing a very strong field on Saturday. It will also mark only his second lifetime race on dirt, but his first one was so good, over the Saratoga main track, that you have to wonder if this Summer at the Spa is destined to belong to the Bill Mott trained colt.
A proven, graded stakes performer on the turf, Good Samaritan certainly looked like the genuine article in his dirt debut, but does he have the goods to join an elite list of horses who were able to pull of the Jim Dandy-Travers double?
Inaugurated back in 1964, we all know the Jim Dandy Stakes as an important prep for the Travers Stakes, but how many winners of the big local prep have actually come back to win the Mid-Summer Derby later that summer? Let's take a look at the list ...
Arts and Letters (1969) - The Horse of the Year of 48 years ago counted the Jim Dandy and Travers double as the third and fourth of an impressive string of victories which also included the Met Mile, Belmont Stakes, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup.
*Affirmed (1978) - It looked like the Triple Crown winning son of Exclusive Native would become just the second horse to join this list, but the stewards said no. After a hard-fought victory over Sensitive Prince in the Jim Dandy, the Harbor View chestnut was taken down from the win in the Travers for serious interference against his rival Alydar on the far turn.
Willow Hour (1981) - How this colt beat as deep a field as he did in the Mid-Summer Derby, after also surprising in the Jim Dandy, will go down as one of those Saratoga mysteries. The wet track surely played a part for the Jimmy Picou trained son of Bold Hour.
Carr de Naskra (1984) - A talented son of Sprint Champion, Star de Naskra, this one put it all together at his favorite track of Saratoga. After winning the Jim Dandy by a pole, he was a game winner of the big one over Pine Circle, Big Pistol, and Track Barron.
Thunder Rumble (1992) - A New York-bred with tons of turf breeding, the Braeburn Farm-owned horse did not get a chance to run in the Triple Crown series, but when he got to Saratoga, he was ready to roll. His back-to-back victories at the Spa gave him a shot for an Eclipse Award, but he was not able to sustain that momentum into the fall.
Medaglia d'Oro (2002) - Though he was never a champion, this Bobby Frankel-trained colt was as honest as they come. Second in two editions of the Breeders' Cup Classic, and a Belmont Stakes and Dubai World Cup, as well, his Travers win, 20 days after winning the Jim Dandy, was probably his most important career win. He is now one of our nation's top sires.
Flower Alley (2005) - He failed in the Kentucky Derby, but this Todd Pletcher trained son of Distorted Humor proved one of the best of his generation in the summer and fall. Wins in the Jim Dandy and Travers proceeded an excellent second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic behind Saint Liam at Belmont Park, two starts later.
Bernardini (2006) - After winning the Preakness Stakes in only his fourth career outing, this A.P. Indy sired talent rattled off impressive victories in the Jim Dandy, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup, before getting upset by Invasor in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He retired after only eight career starts, which included a six-race winning streak in the middle, but has become the sire for the Jim Dandy-Travers double.
Street Sense (2007) - A Champion Juvenile, and a big part of likely the best crop so far of the 21st century, Street Sense suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Curlin in the Preakness, after winning the Run for the Roses. Freshened, trainer Carl Nafzger had him ready for his return in the Jim Dandy. He followed this stylish win with a gritty victory over Grasshopper in the Travers.
Stay Thirsty (2011) - While I can never forgive him for nipping my girl, Groupie Doll, in the 2012 Cigar Mile, the truth of the matter is that this Repole charge was a nice horse who won several good races in New York. By the way, sired by Bernardini, he became part of the first father-son duo to sweep the Jim Dandy-Travers double.
*Alpha (2012) - Joining Stay Thirsty as another son of Bernardini to sweep the big three-year-old races at the Spa, Alpha has an asterisk next to his name because his Travers win was shared, as it ended in a dead heat with the longshot, Golden Ticket. A stalwart in New York, before his raid on Saratoga, he floundered in two important races at Churchill Downs -- the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby.