Dilger Lights Up The Tote Board...Again

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Michael Dilger, who served as an assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher for seven years before setting out on his own in 2013, lit up the toteboard for the second straight Saturday with a longshot 2-year-old winner. A week ago, Dilger put blinkers on second-time starter Nowhere to Run and watched as the colt led the field on a merry chase en route to paying $69.80.

Saturday afternoon the 35-year-old Irishman saddled Our Caravan in the seventh race, a maiden special weight at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. The debutant relaxed in midpack before making a winning move on the far turn on his way to a three-length success over some choicely bred juveniles. He rewarded his backers by paying $73.80.

“He’s always shown that he was better than average,” Dilger remarked. “I was hoping that there would be some speed. He’s the kind of horse that’s going to close into speed, so we’re happy with the way it turned out. We’ll enjoy today and take it from here.”

Both Our Caravan and Nowhere to Run are campaigned by the Anstu Stables of Ann and Stuart Subotnick. Our Caravan is by Daaher, a speedy son of Awesome Again who won the Cigar Mile in 2007. Daaher has sired only 26 total foals from three crops of racing age, including the good sprinter Gypsy Robin. Our Caravan has another Cigar Mile connection on his bottom side, too. His dam Alwaan, a daughter of Elusive Quality, is a half-sister to 2010 Cigar Mile hero Jersey Town.

Our Caravan was purchased for $190,000 as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton’s Saratoga Sale.

Whatever ‘Way’ You Say

Trainer Joe Orseno won a main-track allowance at Gulfstream last March with Happy My Way, but had been racing the 3-year-old on the grass in recent months mixed success. For lack of an alternative, the gelding went back to the dirt for Saturday’s competitive fifth race and reported home a 3 ½-length winner. Favored Speechify was second, while Tulira Castle rallied belatedly to finish fourth in his first outing since the spring.

“The horse really is a much better turf horse and we knew that,” Orseno opined. “The turf race [that we wanted to run in] didn’t go, so we decided to take a look at this race. Really, his numbers are so much better on the turf. I wasn’t happy about it and I knew he could get beat on the dirt.

“The plan was to keep him clear of the dirt, because I thought coming out of a turf race because maybe he’ll sulk a little bit if it hit him in the face,” Orseno added. “[Jockey] Paco [Lopez] did a great job, he warmed him up really, really good, and kept him clear of everything.”

Happy My Way, a Florida-bred owned by Mel Paikoff, will be showcasing his versatility as the 75th Championship Meet continues at Gulfstream.

“I still think he’s a little bit better grass horse, but two things have changed,” Orseno said. “If it rains, we stay in; and this opened up a new dimension for us, because he really repeated his turf efforts on the dirt and he can do either now.”

WHO’S HOT: Jockey Corey Lanerie, riding full time at Gulfstream for just the second time, had back-to-back winners on Saturday’s card, booting home Our Caravan ($73.40) in the seventh race for trainer Michael Dilger and Rope a Dope ($19.20) in the eighth on behalf of conditioner Wayne Catalano.

ONE TO WATCH: Palace Gate was the 9-2 second choice in Saturday’s seventh race for 2-year-olds, but was fractious prior to loading and broke poorly in his first dirt try. After caboosing the field for the opening half-mile, the Todd Pletcher trainee rallied strongly in the stretch and missed second by three-quarters of a length.

Super Hi-5 Carryover: $8,465.90

Rainbow 6 Carryover: $50,000