SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The major prep for the Midsummer Derby is on tap on Saturday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course. While a plethora of Derby trail horses will head to the Haskell at Monmouth on Sunday, the two Classic winners, Always Dreaming (Kentucky Derby) and Cloud Computing (pictured, Preakness) will face off in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes at the Spa.
The $600,000 Jim Dandy drew a field of five for the 1 1/8-mile race. Tapwrit, the Belmont winner, will skip the Dandy and go straight to the Travers, similar to Ohio and Indiana Derby winner Irap.
Post time for the Jim Dandy (Race 10) is 6:18 p.m. and is slated for Race 10 on the 11-race card. The race will be televised as part of a national telecast on Fox Sports 2 (FS2) in Western New York (DirecTV - 219; Dish - 149 and Time Warner - 132) and on MSG+ downstate from 5 - 6:30 p.m.
Let’s take a look at the field from top to bottom (post position, trainer, jockey, morning line odds in parenthesis):
1 – Always Dreaming (Pletcher, Velazquez, Even). The Derby winner will look to exact revenge on the Preakness winner after a dismal performance in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. The son of Bodemeister is well rested and has been working towards this race since the Preakness. The rail post, the shorter distance and the ultimate Toga connections add up to major contender. Big race to keep 3-year-old champion hopes alive with two Derby wins on his resume (Florida, Kentucky).
2 – Cloud Computing (Brown, Castellano, 6-5). The son of Maclean’s Music is likely take back and give way to the Derby winner and Pavel in the early going. He’ll hope that his main contender wears out on the front end as he did in Baltimore. It’s only the talented colt’s fifth start so the sky is the limit to where he can go from here. Huge win threat.
3 – Giuseppe the Great (Zito, Saez, 10-). The son of Lookin at Lukcy finished fourth in the Dwyer, just over 3 lengths behind an impressive Practical Joke, who heads to Monmouth on Sunday. Second to American Anthem in the Woody Stephens on Belmont day, Zito will put blinkers on to keep him focused on the task at hand. I think he breaks up the Classic exacta from a solid stalking trip at a price.
4 – Pavel (O’Neill, Gutierrez, 6-1). Lightly raced son of Creative Cause runs for last year’s Derby winning connections of Reddam Racing/Doug O’Neil/Mario Gutierrez. He broke his maiden impressively at Santa Anita and he enters deeper waters in his second career race. Looks like he going to go early, but tough to back a horse going two turns for the first time in a graded race in only his second start. Nice horse, but have to pass.
5 - Good Samaritan (Mott, Rosario, 12-1). After six straight turf races, Mott decides to give him a shot against the 3-year-old dirt horses. The son of Harlan’s Holiday will actually be cutting back in distance after his mile-and-a-quarter Belmont Derby on Stars and Stripes Day at Belmont. Best shot is he’ll pick up the pieces late and may factor on the bottom of exotic tickets.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Cloud Computing; 2 – Giuseppe the Great; 3 – Always Dreaming
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.