The Spa takes center stage this Saturday as the race for 3 year old champion intensifies with the running of the G.2 $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes. The race is named after 1930 Travers Stakes winner Jim Dandy who upset Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox at odds of 100-1. A field of 7 is entered for the local prep for the Travers Stakes. The highest odds on the board are at 15-1, so don’t look for a repeat of 1930, but do look for an interesting race as two Triple Crown contenders make their return to the track as do other notable runners ready to make their case for 3 year old champ.
Monmoth Park has drawn the big names in racing for Sunday’s Haskell Stakes, but everything is fine and dandy at Saratoga. The summer months have given trainers the opportunity to rest their horses and recharge their batteries. It is a new season with new goals and new hopes. Triple Crown hopefuls Stay Thirsty and Brilliant Speed, 2nd and 3rd in the Belmont Stakes, return for trainers Todd Pletcher and Tom Albertrani rejuvintated and ready to run. However, two horses who suffered setbacks on the road to the Triple Crown also return with high hopes and big expectations. Dwyer Stakes champion Dominus looks to continue his winning ways as does Peter Pan Stakes winner Alternation. The final stretch looms large as the talented crop of 3 year olds open the final half of the racing year.
$500,000 Jim Dandy (gr. II, Race 10, 5:45 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Moonshine Mullin (KY), E Wilson, 117, R Baker, 15-1
2. Dominus (VA), J R Leparoux, 121, S M Asmussen, 3-1
3. Brilliant Speed (FL), J R Velazquez, 123, T Albertrani , 7-2
4. Scotus (KY), A Garcia, 119, K G McPeek, 8-1
5. Will’s Wildcat (KY), R Albarado, 117, J E Baker, 15-1
6. Stay Thirsty (KY), J Castellano, 119, T A Pletcher, 5-2
7. Alternation (KY), R A Dominguez, 121, D K Von Hemel, 7-2
Pletcher has trained four Jim Dandy winners and Albertrani and Asmussen have a win under their belts as well. Their three horses look to run big, but I’m leaning toward the outside and Alternation. Don Von Hemel could have easily run his talented colt in the Belmont Stakes after a victory in the Peter Pan, but opted to back off and wait for Saratoga to give Alternation a fighting chance for 3 year old honors. However, with a small field and a distance of 1 1/8 miles, it could be a wide open race despite the small prices on the board.
Also on the card Saturday at Saratoga is the G.1 $500,000 Diana Handicap for fillies and mares. Run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf, the Diana boasts a field of 10 jockeying for a position in the Breeders’ Cup turf division. Leading the field are the two top choices Aruna and Unbridled Humor, winners of their last 8 of 9 combined and dating back to last September. Both are trained by Kentucky Derby winning trainer H. Graham Motion. Perennial Diana Handicap contender William I. Mott will send 5-1 Aviate to the starting gate as a potential upset winner.
$500,000 Diana (gr. II, Race 9, 5:12 p.m.), Fillies & Mares, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Unbridled Humor (FL), J R Velazquez, 118, H G Motion, 4-1
2. Justaroundmidnight (IRE), J Bravo, 118, P L Biancone, 20-1
3. Dyna Waltz (GB), E S Prado, 118, J E Sheppard, 12-1
4. Zagora (FR), J Castellano, 118, C C Brown, 6-1
5. Bay to Bay (FL), A Garcia, 120, B A Lynch, 6-1
6. Aruna (KY), R A Dominguez, 118, H G Motion, 3-1
7. Aviate (GB), J R Leparoux, 120, W I Mott, 5-1
8. Giants Play (KY), R Maragh, 120, C Clement, 8-1
9. Mekong Melody (IRE), A O Solis, 118, R L Attfield, 10-1
10. Romacaca (FL), E T Baird, 118, N Canani, 15-1
For a price, I’ll keep an eye on Giants Play and Rajiv Maragh. I always admired the combination of Jose Santos and Cristophe Clement on the turf, and look for a new partnership to possibly emmerge. Clement has a proven track record with turf horses, especially at Saratoga.
Good luck this weekend to all racing enthusiasts. Saturday’s top to races on the 11 race card from Saratoga can be seen on VERSUS starting at 5 pm EST. We would like to wish all the racing connections good luck as the road to the Breeders’ Cup now becomes the main focus not only for 3 year olds, but for all horses competing today. It’s going to be a great summer.
Written by Big Brink