In the past 17 years, the winner of the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes has emerged as the Travers champion 10 times and in four of the last six editions. Last year’s winner Wicked Strong was nipped in a photo by barn mate V.E. Day in the Midsummer Derby.
Seven colts have been entered in the 1 1/8-mile $600,000 race, however two will likely depart for Sunday’s purse-enhanced Haskell Invitational. Both Upstart and Competitive Edge were cross-entered in both key 3-year-old races, but with $750,000 added to the Haskell, a second or third-place finish on the Shore is much more lucrative to connections than the Saratoga feature.
The 52nd edition of the Dandy will feature the Belmont Stakes runner-up Frosted (2-1) who ran fourth in the Derby and will return to the races after the grueling Triple Crown trail.
Frosted's chief competition will come from Texas Red (7-2), last year’s Juvenile champion who returned to the races with a second-place finish in the Dwyer at Belmont on the Fourth of July.
It's a big weekend for 3-year-olds, along with the Haskell and Jim Dandy, the West Virginia Derby will be run at Mountaineer on Saturday and has 11 colts entered led by Madefromlucky (3-1) and Tale of Verve (4-1).
Here is a look at the field (post position, trainer, jockey, ML odds in parenthesis) for Saturday's feature:
1 - Frammento (Zito, Lezcano, 20-1) Best finish in five straight graded stakes was a third in the G3 Holy Bull for the son of Midshipman. He was up the track in the Belmont, but he has worked well at Saratoga. It should be noted he also posted a bullet before the Belmont so tread easy.
2 - Japan (Mott, Alvarado, 10-1) Won the Easy Goer on the Belmont Stakes undercard for Mott. He’s making a big step up in class, but in a short field, he could be a factor. Posted a fine workout on July 27 and his trainer has been hot early on in the meet.
3 – Texas Red (Desormeaux, Desormeaux, 7-2) A good comeback race finishing second to Speightster in the one-mile Dwyer after being off due to an early season injury. Eligible to improve second off the layoff and this could be his breakout race.
4 - Upstart (Violette, Irad Ortiz Jr, 3-1) Last-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby will likely go where the grass is greener in New Jersey to face the Triple Crown winner.
5 – Competitive Edge (Pletcher, Velazquez, 4-1) After four straight wins, he didn’t run a lick and came back to earth in the Woody Stephens. If he does well in the Haskell, we’ll see him at the end of the month in the Travers for Pletcher, who could have any number of 3-year-olds entered in the Midsummer Derby.
6 - Tekton (Dutrow, Cintron, 10-1) Finished second to Mr. Jordan, who will run in the Haskell, in the G3 Pegasus. Anthony Dutrow uses bug boy for six-pound weight break, but have to weigh big speed figure on the Monmouth speed favoring track carefully. He's also cross-entered in the Curlin today at the Spa and in the West Virginia Derby on Saturday. [UPDATE: Tekton will scratch out of the Dandy as he ran in Friday's Curlin Stakes.]
7 - Frosted (McLaughlin, Rosario, 2-1) Morning line favorite came out of Triple Crown in good order, but tough races that had to take something out of him. Was no match in the stretch for American Pharoah, but can make his mark in Saratoga with a Dandy-Travers double. He’s the one to beat and should duel the Juvenile champ down the lane.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Texas Red; 2 - Frosted; 3 – Japan
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.