A Jim Dandy of a Saturday at Saratoga
By NY Hot List Staff
It’s not the Travers.
It’s just a great way to get there.
The $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes will be one of the highlights of a great Saturday card at Saratoga when two of the top performers in the 2019 Triple Crown will return to action.
The mile and an eighth stakes will feature Preakness winner War of Will and Tacitus, who was second in the Belmont Stakes and third via disqualification in the Kentucky Derby.
For both horses, the Jim Dandy is viewed as a stepping stone to the Runhappy Travers Stakes on Aug. 24 but they have been training well since their last start in the Belmont Stakes and should be the ones to beat in the six-horse field of 3-year-olds.
War of Will, trained by Mark Casse, was the center of the disqualification in the Kentucky Derby when he bumped with the victorious Maximum Security in an incident that caused Maximum Security to be disqualified from first to 17th. He wound up seventh in the Kentucky Derby but then rebounded to take the Preakness before the grind of the Triple Crown grind caught up with him and he finished ninth in the Belmont Stakes.
“He’s good and he’s ready,” Casse said. “The best way to describe it is that he’s in a good place. We’re happy. A lot of times, a trainer will say, ‘I wish I could have done this or that.’ That’s not the case here. I’m happy with him. It’s up to him now. We trained him here last year and he liked the track. He just reconfirmed this year that he gets over it nicely. We’re ready and hopefully he brings his ‘A’ game. They still have to beat him, I think.”
Tacitus, trained by Bill Mott, has been more consistent. Juddmonte Farms’ 3-year-old son of Tapit won the Tampa Bay Derby and the Wood Memorial and then was placed third in the Kentucky Derby. In the Belmont Stakes, he had a troubled trip but still managed to finish a game second, one length behind Sir Winston.
“He’s good. He worked a couple of days ago and looked good this morning,” Mott said. “His works have been very steady. They’ve been very similar to what they’ve been all spring. He’s good going 9-to-10 furlongs. It looked like he could be good up to a mile and a half, but he can still be effective at a mile an eighth.”
Mott will be searching for his fourth victory in the Jim Dandy.
The field of six also includes Tax, who was fourth in the Belmont Stakes and 14th in the Kentucky Derby, Laughing Fox, who was fifth in the Preakness, Peter Pan Stakes winner Global Campaign and Mihos.
The 12-race card also includes the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, which features a great matchup between Mitole, who seeks an eighth straight win and is ranked No. 2 in this week’s National Thoroughbred Racing Association Top 10 poll, and the sharp sprinter Imperial Hint, who won last year’s race at 4-5 odds and was the beaten favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and the $250,000 Bowling Green Stakes on the turf.
The Bowling Green drew a highly competitive field of 13 including Arklow, Sadler’s Joy, Channel Maker, who was last year’s co-winner in a dead-heat, Highland Sky, Zulu Alpha and Channel Cat.