Horse racing’s second season hits a high point Aug. 29 with the running of the $1-million Shadwell Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, and this Saturday at Saratoga seven 3-year-olds will assemble for the 46th running of the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) hoping to earn a shot at the Mid-Summer Derby.
The nine-furlong Jim Dandy, named for the 100-1 shot that scored one of racing's memorable upsets, the defeat of Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox in the 1930 Travers, has attracted some familiar faces from the Triple Crown trail as well as a handful of later developing colts looking to make their mark in the division this summer, and with good reason: Of the 14 Travers winners to prep in the Jim Dandy since 1964, eight have completed the double, most recently Flower Alley (in 2005), Bernardini (2006), and Street Sense (2007).
Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.’s Charitable Man, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, and Robert V. LaPenta’s Miner's Escape, from Hall of Famer Nick Zito’s barn, will be making their first starts since finishing fourth and 10th, respectively, behind Summer Bird in the June 6 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
“Before the Belmont, I said I wouldn’t trade places with anyone, and I wouldn’t trade places with anyone now,” said McLaughlin, who will also saddle West Point Thoroughbreds’ Flat Bold in the Jim Dandy. “I still like him a lot. The Belmont was a funny racetrack that day, and the pace scenario turned out different than we thought it would on paper. He didn’t get the mile and a half either, but we don’t have to worry about that anymore.”
“Both Flat Bold and Charitable Man are doing great,” he added. ‘You hate to run two good horses against each other, but they’re only 3-year-olds once and it’s time for Flat Bold to step up.”
Stepping up as well will be the first three finishers from the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) July 4 at Belmont in Stonestreet Stable’s Kensei, Centennial Farms’ Convocation, and A. Stevens Miles, Jr.’s Warrior's Reward , the 4-5 favorite, who stumbled badly at the break to spot the field 18 lengths and finish 5 1/2 lengths behind the winner.
“He didn’t quit in that race,” said trainer Ian Wilkes of Warrior’s Reward, who worked for the Jim Dandy July 27 under jockey Calvin Borel, covering five furlongs in 1:01.99. “I think he learned something from it and got a lot out of the race both physically and mentally.”
Kensei, who was third in the Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) on Belmont Stakes Day after a troubled trip, finally fulfilled the promise he showed in his maiden victory here last year with his 3 1/2-length Dwyer score.
“We thought he was a top-class horse when he broke his maiden,” said trainer Steve Asmussen of Kensei. “He had some decent races, but it looked like he came through in the Dwyer the way we had expected him to.'
Lally Stable’s Saratoga Sinner has won both starts as a 3-year-old, but has not raced since taking the nine-furlong Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 31, after which he underwent surgery to remove a chip from his knee. Trainer Eddie Kenneally got him back on the work tab on June 9 at Keeneland, and in his most recent work zipped 47.45 July 28 on the Oklahoma training track, the fastest of 20 at the distance.
“You have to start somewhere,” said Kenneally. “We’re looking ahead to the Travers and the fall with him. He’s come back very well.”
The Jim Dandy (gr. II), Aug. 1, Saratoga, 1 1/8 miles, 10th race, 5:47.
Post Horse Weight Jockey
1) Saratoga Sinner 119 J.R. Leparoux
2) Flat Bold 115 R.A. Dominguez
3) Kensei 121 E.S. Prado
4) Warrior's Reward 115 C.H. Borel
5) Charitable Man 121 Alan Garcia
6) Miner's Escape 117 J.R. Velazquez
7) Convocation 115 K.J. Desormeaux