“This colt was kinda small when I bought him,” said pinhooker and consignor G.W. Parrish when I was inspecting the gray colt that he had purchased out of the 2021 Keeneland September sale and had trained up to working a quarter-mile for the OBS March sale in :20 4/5.
The colt had turned in a very good work, showing a stride length of 25.3 feet and earning a BreezeFig of 73. In addition the colt was speeding up through his work, attracting further notice for that as he worked around the turn.
In addition to a quick work, the colt was from the first crop by champion Justify (by Scat Daddy) and out of a graded stakes winner by Tapit. Even so, Parrish had acquired the colt for only $25,000 as a yearling.
“I brought him down here and put him in training, and he never missed a day, never did anything wrong,” Parrish continued. “He’s turned into a really nice colt.”
Most everyone else thought so too, and the gray son of Justify brought $425,000 from Rosedown Racing Stables, which is the entity owned by commercial real estate developer Jeffrey Weiss. The owner sent his new colt to trainer Danny Gargan, and the colt, named Champions Dream, won his debut going seven furlongs at Saratoga on Sept. 3 by 2 ¼ lengths.
Conor Foley of Oracle Bloodstock, along with his team, had selected the gray colt for Weiss at the March sale and said “he was one of the best horses in the sale. We loved him and were tickled to bits to get him for Jeff Weiss, although I was surprised by the price. I believe everyone expected him to go for more.
“Danny thought this was a nice colt very early, and Champions Dream then won his maiden at Saratoga comfortably, which is the right way.”
A month later, Champions Dream had a rough trip in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes and finished fifth, but in his next start, on Saturday at Aqueduct for the G2 Nashua, Champions Dream was organized and on cue, winning his first stakes by three-quarters of a length over Full Moon Madness.
Bred in Kentucky by John Oxley, Champions Dream is the fifth stakes winner for Justify from a first crop of 176 foals. That represents 3 percent of his foals to date, but the achievement is most notable for a quartet being graded or group winners. Of the five, four are fillies; Champions Dream is the sire’s first stakes-winning colt, so far.
Justify’s first book of mares included about 40 major stakes winners and dozens of mares who had produced high-class racers from around the world. One of the quality racemares sent to Justify was Dancinginherdreams (Tapit), winner of the G2 Golden Rod Stakes at two. The elegant gray filly also ran second in the G2 Forward Gal and Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream but didn’t win another stakes.
Cast in the beautifully balanced mold of her distinguished sire Tapit, Dancinginherdreams was medium-sized and elegant, and her Justify colt was definitely in the type of his dam and Tapit. Having grown well over the winter, adding strength and standing about 15.3 as a 2-year-old in training, Champions Dream had the profile and phenotype of a miler who would develop well at two and possess the potential to be a challenger as a 3-year-old.
How different from his massively constructed sire Justify, who combines the immense strength and muscularity of broodmare sire Ghostzapper with the scope and height of Scat Daddy. Justify is a tank; Champions Dream is a sport vehicle.
That difference is not a bad thing. Champions Dream stood up to the rigors of early training and handled the preparation for the in-training sales well. He prospered under the Parrish Farms regimen and has continued to develop and improve over the summer in Gargan’s barn.
“Champions Dream showed Danny pretty early that this was an above-average colt,” Foley said, “and he keeps on doing things well. He’s going to Florida, gives us the feeling he’d like Gulfstream, and will be on the Derby trail. We’re all very excited for Jeff Weiss and his family to have a colt of this caliber.”
The future looks bright for this progressive young athlete, and if he proves as high-class and tough as Nashua himself, Champions Dream should bring a lot of smiles and dreams.