SARATOGA SPRINGS – After a long hiatus since Justify’s Triple Crown victory at Belmont Park, the 3-year-old colt division is in high gear this weekend.
With Justify being retired earlier in the week, one of the 3-year-olds racing this weekend should emerge from beneath the Triple Crown winner’s shadow to star in the second half of the racing season.
The major prep race for the Travers Stakes is on tap Saturday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course. While several Derby trail horses will head to the Haskell at Monmouth on Sunday, the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes has attracted four horses that ran in Triple Crown races to the Spa.
The race itself is named in honor of the 1930 Travers victor who defeated Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox at the Graveyard of Champions at odds of 100-1. The Jim Dandy has produced 18 Travers winners, of which 12 completed the Dandy-Travers double.
For the second year in a row, the $600,000 Jim Dandy drew a small field of five.
Post time for the Jim Dandy is 6:18 p.m. and is slated for Race 10 on the 11-race card. The 55th running of the 1 1/8-mile route will be broadcast on Saratoga Live from 6-7 p.m. nationally on Fox Sports 2.
Let’s take a look at the field from top to bottom (post position, trainer, jockey, morning line odds in parenthesis):
1 – Flameaway (Casse, Jose Ortiz, 7-2). This Ontario-bred finished 13th in the Derby and followed that up with dismal sixth-place finish in the Ohio Derby. Casse passed on the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie on Tuesday night in favor of Wonder Gadot, the filly that captured the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown. Seems like he would thrive more as a miler, and will likely be on the engine with Reride, ridden by the other Ortiz brother.
2 – Tenfold (Asmussen, Santana, Jr., 8-5). The son of Curlin is the second choice on the morning line and after hitting the board at Pimlico in the Preakness finished fifth in the Belmont Stakes. Late maturing horse who could be coming into his own for owner Winchell Thoroughbreds, the owner of last year’s Horse of the Year Gun Runner. Santana, Jr. was hot early in the met, has been riding well under the radar. Dangerous.
3 – Reride (Asmussen, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 12-1) Another Winchell entry for Asmussen, who has two non-graded stakes wins under his belt. After trying to qualify for the Derby in Dubai he was given some time off before a disappointing fifth-place finish at Canterbury Park in Minnesota. Seems to be in pretty deep waters here. Projected to be out front with Flameaway in the early going.
4 – Sporting Chance (Lukas, Saez, 8-1). Struggled in the slop in both of his last two races, the latter being the Preakness. D. Wayne Lukas makes an equipment change and adds blinkers to the son of Tiznow. His last dry track race was a good one in the Blue Grass at Keeneland. Wouldn’t be surprised if he cracked the exacta in the Dandy.
5 – Vino Rosso (Pletcher, Velazquez, Even). Connections have owned Saratoga over the past decade. Son of Curlin challenged Justify in the Belmont Stakes on the far turn and came up empty in a race that should have been right up his alley according to his pedigree. He needs some pace to run into and as the odds-on favorite in a short field we’ll try and beat him.
Outlook: Drawing a line through Sporting Chance’s last two races on off tracks provides an opportunity to split the two Curlin horses and create some value. He also has two wins over the surface as a 2-year-old. We’ll give the nod to Tenfold on top with a hot jockey/trainer combination.
Post Time Selections: 1 – Tenfold; 2 – Sporting Chance; 3 – Vino Rosso
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.