The winner of the Travers often comes from its Jim Dandy (II) prep, and this year we’ve got a pretty nice lineup of colts including the Belmont winner Palace Malice, the Dwyer (II) winner Moreno, and the Peter Pan (II) winner Freedom Child. Palace Malice figures to be the favorite here if talk follows the walk to the windows, and why shouldn’t anyone not favor this colt who broke his maiden here a year save a week ago and is hot off defeating the Derby and Preakness winners? Historical tidbits:
- No Belmont winner in the past 20 years has won the Jim Dandy, and there have been 5 attempts: Empire Maker, Da’ Tara, Editor’s Note, Colonial Affair, and Tabasco Cat.
- Todd Pletcher has won more Jim Dandies than any other trainer in history, going for his 6th this year with Palace Malice.
- The seemingly unstoppable Curlin lost the Haskell after his near-miss in the Belmont and Preakness victory, finishing a well-beaten 3rd to Any Given Saturday.
- Palace Malice has won just two races: he is 2-for-2 when I am present in the crowd. I am not going to be at Saratoga today ;)
A slight chance of rain may dampen the track, but expect a fast going.
$600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (II) - 3-Year-Olds. 1 1/8 miles on dirt at Saratoga. Post Time: Saturday, July 27 at 5:45pm EST.
[Post Position, Horse - Jockey, Impost, Trainer - Summary, Opinion in italics]
1) Bashaar - Javier Castellano, 117 lbs, Daniel Peitz - The Shadwell longshot by Street Cry [IRE] fumbled in a poor trip last out in the Iowa Derby (III), finishing willingly enough to be 3rd by a length and a half. He should dig the stretch-out and gets a better jockey in Castellano. He’s probably better than the morning line suggests and will look for a closing zip.
2) Code West - Joel Rosario, 119 lbs, Bob Baffert - I took a liking to the Lemon Drop Kid colt late in the Triple Crown preps, where he was constantly finding himself getting poor trips. Had he been entered in the Derby, I might have gone with him. He has won 2 and placed once in his 3 starts since sidelining himself from the Kentucky Derby, including the G3 Matt Winn, and his workouts show he’s ready to roll with Rosario.
3) Will Take Charge - Junior Alvarado, 121 lbs, D. Wayne Lukas - The chrome-trimmed son of the recently deceased Unbridled’s Song turns back to the track after finishing a sleepy 10th in the Belmont Stakes (I), and has felt his fair share of poor trips as of late. Lukas takes the blinkers off in hopes of seeing something change. I haven’t seen anything that convinces me that WTC is going to be a contender here.
4) Moreno - Jose Ortiz, 121 lbs, Eric Guillot - The Ghostzapper colt backed up his maiden romp at Belmont with an easy score in the Dwyer (II) last out. The stretch-out shouldn’t bother him, and while Moreno will still have to keep proving himself, he is on the improving path although he needs a true test.
5) Palace Malice - Mike Smith, 123 lbs, Todd Pletcher - The mighty Curlin passed on his grit to this Belmont winner, who will be the class and favorite of the race here following his big breakthrough win. PM is capable of speed as he showed in the Derby as well as sustained drive like he showed in the Belmont. He likes Saratoga plenty, but he will have to demonstrate that his Belmont win wasn’t a fluke.
6) Perfect Title - Shaun Bridgmohan, 117 lbs, Dallas Stewart - The Perfect Soul [IRE] colt is new to the graded scene, but has yet to be worse than 4th in his career as he is coming off a Churchill Downs score where he ran big late. Imagine an ideal setup and a trip that doesn’t carry this one so wide— and they haven’t been running too wide lately at Saratoga. Interesting exotic choice.
7) Freedom Child - Luis Saez, 121 lbs, Tom Albertrani - The Malibu Moon colt was riding high off his Peter Pan (II) win when he stopped dead in the Belmont to finish a hapless 13th. Probably a better bet at this distance, include him if it rains, but otherwise he’s still a bit of a shrug choice where I don’t know how he stacks up.
8) Mylute - Rosie Napravnik, 117 lbs, Thomas Amoss - The gorgeous Midnight Lute colt redeemed himself racing 2nd to Revolutionary in the Louisiana Derby, and finished forward although not competitive enough for the win in the Derby and the Preakness. His last three races are impressive if you go by the numbers: he went too wide in the Preakness, wide again before that in the jumbled Derby, and then went very wide and lost by just a neck in the Louisiana Derby, which to me is a small enough margin to say he could have won. He gets a weight break from many horses here, and *is* competitive despite always being good, but not good enough. Layoff is a concern, too.
9) Looking Cool - Edgar Prado, 119 lbs, Carl Nazfger - The Iowa Derby (III) winner and son of Candy Ride [ARG] invades Saratoga after his breakthrough big win last out. He has won 3 of his 6 starts this year, but got overwhelmed in the Matt Winn (III) to finish that race up the track. Class becomes a question here; if he can keep his Iowa Derby form he’s competitive, but more often than not he is lacking.
10) Vyjack - Running in Haskell instead!
Top Picks in Order: (dry fast track)
1) Moreno (5-1)
2) Perfect Title (15-1)
3) Code West (7-1)
Palace Malice can win just as much as he can lose, and like HELL I’m going to accept the odds on him considering everything and how much I like others in the field. Moreno finished ears forward while improving some more out on the lead of the Dwyer, and I’m hoping he has another good race left in him to work some more magic. Perfect Title intrigued the heck out of me enough to include him in the top 3, running big against a slower pace and getting game when shouldered against the competition in the stretch. Code West has some upside, finishing well in his recent starts and looks game as ever. Mylute is a logical choice that is being ignored in favor of Palace Malice, and he has shown ability in gunning it late against a slow pace.
Value Pick: Perfect Title (20-1) came running big and late last out just like his brother Golden Soul did in the Derby.