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The $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) is the local prep for the August 25, $1 million Travers Stakes (G1). The nine-furlong dirt race drew a competitive field of eight sophomores.

In recent years, the Jim Dandy has been won by some nice horses, including 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and 2006 Preakness romper Bernardini.

The connections of Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) winner Gemologist pulled a last minute audible and decided to bypass the Jim Dandy and ship their colt to New Jersey for Sunday’s Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) instead. That leaves Withers Stakes (G3) winner and Wood Memorial runner-up Alpha as the tepid favorite.

Alpha progressed quite nicely this spring, but battled hoof issues in advance of his Kentucky Derby clunker. Freshened since, he may be prepared to rediscover his ‘A’ game.

Teeth of the Teeth of the Dog won consecutive stakes at Belmont, most recently edging fellow Jim Dandy combatant Fast Falcon in the Dwyer Stakes (G2). He battled a fast pace that day, and showed grit and tenacity in holding off a rival that had every right to run past him.

Atigun enjoyed a coming out party, of sorts, in the Belmont. Dismissed at odds of 20-to-1, he finished third behind Union Rags. He was beaten only two lengths and, if not for some traffic issues, he may have won.

The Beyer Speed Figures point to Neck ’n Neck as the horse to beat in the Jim Dandy. He’s posted consecutive numbers over 100 at Churchill Downs, winning those two races by a combined margin of nearly 14 lengths. In addition, the efforts were impressive to the eye, and he’s trained sharply since on the Saratoga main track. Take note that he’s improved since adding blinkers, and that jockey Leandro Goncalves is unbeaten in three starts as his pilot.

Liaison is a tough horse to get a handle on. He’s certainly a better horse since putting the blinkers back on, but one could make a case that he prefers synthetic surfaces over traditional dirt tracks.

The Jim Dandy is not on speed overload. My Adonis is the probable pacesetter, with Teeth of the Dog expected to press. Neck ’n Neck should sit a sweet trip behind that pair, and get the all-important first run on the closers turning for home.

My Selections

Neck ’n Neck

Alpha

Atigun

Liason

$600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2)

Saturday, Saratoga Race Course, Race 10, 5:45 p.m. EDT

3-year-olds, 1 1/8 Miles

PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds

1. Alpha, Ramon Dominguez, 119, Kiaran McLaughlin, 5-to-2

2. Fast Falcon, Rosie Napravnik, 117, Nick Zito, 10-to-1

3. AtigunJulien Leparoux, 117, Ken McPeek, 8-to-1

4. Neck ’n Neck, Leandro Goncalves, 119, Ian Wilkes, 3-to-1

5. My Adonis, Javier Castellano, 117, Kelly Breen, 20-to-1

6. Teeth of the Dog, Joel Rosario, 121, Michael Matz, 5-to-1

7. Liaison, Martin Garcia, 119, Bob Baffert, 7-to-2

8. Prospective, John Velazquez, 121, Mark Casse, 12-to-1

Image Description

Joe Kristufek

The face of ABR's "Racing 101", Joe Kristufek is a self-proclaimed horse racing "ambassador," and fan development has been his passion since the moment he took his first job in the industry.

Kristufek is the morning-line maker for Arlington Park and Kentucky Downs and he serves as the handicapper and racing writer for the Daily Herald newspaper. 

Kristufek has developed and executed several horse racing-related, fan-education projects both online and onsite and he is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters. 

He has co-owned five horses in partnership and is the process of developing an ownership group of his own. Kristufek is also becoming an increasing presence on the tournament scene. 

Kristufek was the on-air talent for Hawthorne's between-race presentation and replay shows in the 1990s, and served as a on-air host and content coordinator for The Racing Network in 2000-2001. He was the owner, producer and host of popular horse racing magazine show Horsin' Around TV, airing 85 episodes from 2003-2005 on Fox Sports Chicago and Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

A beer and indie/alternative music snob, Joe is a Chicago Bulls season ticket holder and there aren't too many people who can keep up with him on a billards table. 

 

Image Description

Joe Kristufek

The face of ABR's "Racing 101", Joe Kristufek is a self-proclaimed horse racing "ambassador," and fan development has been his passion since the moment he took his first job in the industry.

Kristufek is the morning-line maker for Arlington Park and Kentucky Downs and he serves as the handicapper and racing writer for the Daily Herald newspaper. 

Kristufek has developed and executed several horse racing-related, fan-education projects both online and onsite and he is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters. 

He has co-owned five horses in partnership and is the process of developing an ownership group of his own. Kristufek is also becoming an increasing presence on the tournament scene. 

Kristufek was the on-air talent for Hawthorne's between-race presentation and replay shows in the 1990s, and served as a on-air host and content coordinator for The Racing Network in 2000-2001. He was the owner, producer and host of popular horse racing magazine show Horsin' Around TV, airing 85 episodes from 2003-2005 on Fox Sports Chicago and Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

A beer and indie/alternative music snob, Joe is a Chicago Bulls season ticket holder and there aren't too many people who can keep up with him on a billards table. 

 

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