The major prep for the Midsummer Derby is on tap on Saturday afternoon at Saratoga Racecourse. While the top three finishers in the Kentucky Derby will try the Haskell at Monmouth, the top two finishers in the Belmont Stakes return to action at the Spa in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes.
Creator and Destin, who dueled late in the Belmont are the big names. Mohaymen also returns after being rested since the Derby to point at this summer campaign by trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The $600,000 Jim Dandy drew a field of six for the 1 1/8-mile race.
Post time for the Jim Dandy (Race 10) is 6:18 p.m.
Let’s take a look at the field from top to bottom (post position, trainer, jockey, morning line odds in parenthesis):
1 – Creator (Asmussen, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 3-1). The Belmont Stakes winner drew the rail for trainer Asmussen and has been on the sidelines for six weeks since his classic win on June 11. The class of the field usually needs some pace to run into and there are only two speed horses in the race in Laoban and Destin. The son of Tapit has really never run a clunker and should be around to catch a piece here. The race doesn’t exactly set up well for him, but he is a threat nonetheless. Contender.
2 – Laoban (Guillot, Jose Ortiz, 20-1). The son of Uncle Mo is likely to be sent out early based on the modus operandi of conditioner Guillot. The ragin’ Cajun loves to play the villain and this is race is no different. The voodoo dolls in his barn are likely at Defcon 3. Unfortunately he’s just not fast enough for the classy horses entered in here. Speed and fade.
3 – Mohaymen (McLaughlin, Alvarado, 9-5). Well, he’s won every race that Nyquist hasn’t run in, so he has that going for him. The $2.2M purchase still has some winning to do to pay off that big price tag (he’s at $952K). Junior Alvarado retains the mount for Shadwell and McLaughlin. He should be rested since he’s been off since the Derby, and he ran a respectable fourth that day. He’ll be looking to return to last fall’s form, but thinking the Travers is the target. Waiting.
4 – Destin (Pletcher, Castellano, 2-1). Last year Javier won all the big races, including the Travers over American Pharoah. He picks up TAP’s big mount here and his speed at this distance should be the distance maker. Although he was the runner-up in the Belmont, morning line maker Travis Stone made him the favorite over Creator and I tend to agree with that position. The pick.
5 - Governor Malibu (Clement, Rosario, 9-2). Malibu Moon colt had troubled trip in the Belmont to finish fourth by 4-lengths. He could be rounding into form and if he hadn’t checked twice in the stretch, who knows where he would have finished at Big Sandy. Could be one of those late developing 3-year-olds who starts crushing it during the summer. I project that he breaks up the exacta between the big three.
6 – Race Me Home (Romans, Saez, 15-1). The son of Oasis Dream was second to Economic Model in the Easy Goer, the race when Indiana Derby winner Cupid bombed. Jumps into deeper waters here for the first time for Romans to see if he can swim with the sharks.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Destin; 2 – Governor Malibu; 3 – Creator; and 4 – Mohaymen
Check back tomorrow for a preview of the Haskell Invitational here at the Sports, Ink blog.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.