After choosing to pass on the final leg of the Triple Crown, trainer Carl Nafzger is set to saddle Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Street Sense in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) July 29 at Saratoga.
The 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy will be the first start for the son of Street Cry since coming up a neck short to Curlin in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
“He’s really enjoyed the last couple of months,” Nafzger said. "The thing was the timing. We felt that he had done everything we wanted him to do. If we ran him in the Belmont, that might have thrown us off on what we’d like to achieve, like winning the (grade I) Travers.”
Nafzger knows what it's like to win the Travers, having done so with in 2000 with Unshaded, who, like Street Sense, was owned by Jim Tafel. The $1-million Travers, presented by New York Lottery, is Saratoga’s “Mid-Summer Derby” and will be run
Also in the back of Tafel and Nafzger’s head had to be the race for champion 3-year-old colt or gelding and will likely be decided from this point on as Street Sense and Curlin continue to tangle. Street Sense will be fresher than Curlin for the rest of the year, and that could give him a big edge.
Street Sense will be making his 10th career start in the Jim Dandy. He capped off his 2-year-old season with a crushing victory in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I). At 3, the colt is 2-for-4, with his losses both narrow photo finishes.
“I try not to over-analyze,” said Nafzger, who will give a leg up to Calvin Borel. “I didn’t even know who he was running against until this morning. All I concern myself with is how well my horse is training. He’s an amazing horse.”
Street Sense has a definite class and speed edge over his handful of rivals. The most interesting of that group is Stonestreet Stables’ Tiz Wonderful, an undefeated ridgling who will be making his first start since November.
Tiz Wonderful broke his maiden at Saratoga in a smashing 12 ½-length score. Last fall he won the grade III Iroquois and grade II Kentucky Jockey Club. His 2007 debut was delayed because of tendon problems.
“He’s an extremely talented horse,” trainer Steve Asmussen said of the son of Tiznow . “The Jim Dandy is awfully deep water for him coming back off a layoff. The main thing with him is his soundness, and him doing well up here last year has everything to do with why he’s running back here.”
For Tiz Wonderful, the Jim Dandy will be a big sign as to whether or not he will run in the Travers.
“We feel that if he has any shot in the Travers, which his ability warrants, this is the only prep to put him in this position,” said Asmussen.
John Velazquez, who won three straight Jim Dandys from 2003 to 2005, will be aboard Tiz Wonderful.
For the last few months, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey has been looking forward to getting the Phipps Stable’s Sightseeing back around two turns. After running a strong second in the Wood Memorial (gr. I), Sightseeing was all out to win the Peter Pan (gr. II) at 3-5, then disappointed in the Dwyer (gr. II), his first start with blinkers. His last two starts have been around one turn at Belmont.
“I’m looking forward to this,” McGaughey said. “He shipped up here well and he worked well here. We’ve been looking for two turns and we’re going to get it. I think he’s more mature now than he was the last time he went two turns.”
The main track had not been playing kindly toward speed the first couple of days here, so Sightseeing’s rallying style is a good fit.
“I think that will help,” McGaughey said. “If we get an off track, that isn’t going to hurt us, either.”
McGaughey won the Jim Dandy in 1987 with Polish Navy and in 1993 with Miner’s Mark. The colt’s jockey, Edgar Prado, has never won the Jim Dandy.
The field for the Jim Dandy (gr. II) includes:
1--Sightseeing (Edgar Prado, 121)
2--Flashstorm (Shaun Bridgmohan, 115)
3--Street Sense (Calvin Borel, 123)
4-- Cowtown Cat (Garrett Gomez, 121)
5--Tiz Wonderful (John Velazquez, 119)
6--C P West (Cornelio Velasquez, 115)