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.
Neck ’n Neck
$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