Those who questioned the class level of Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Texas Red had to eat their words Aug. 1, as the son of Afleet Alex turned back Frosted by half-length in the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga Race Course.
Japan showed the way in the field of four, with opening fractions of :24.37, :48.15, and 1:11.92 through six furlongs. But Texas Red was never far behind, despite breaking slowest of all, and rolled wide off the final turn full of run in the 1 1/8-mile event, a prep for the Aug. 29 Travers Stakes (gr. I).
"He just galloped along to the quarter pole," Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux said. "I had so much left that I got to the (front) quicker than I thought I would. He kind of idled on the lead a little bit that last three sixteenths of a mile, but when challenged he had tons left. The most encouraging thing about the entire ride was the energy left galloping out. I think I'm sucking more wind than he is from the race."
Frosted, making his first start for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin since a June 6 runner-up finish to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes presented by DraftKings (gr. I), closed hard from third, but could not get to the winner through a 1:36.15 mile while carrying high weight of 123 pounds. Texas Red carried 119, finishing in 1:48.77 on a fast track.
"We got beat," McLaughlin said. "Frosted ran very well. A nice horse won it. We gave the winner four pounds. We came to win the race, but we couldn't get by. Four-horse races are always tricky, but it will be a different race in four weeks. You just don't know what's going to happen. He ran well, but hopefully he will be better in four weeks (in the Travers)."
It was the first win for Texas Red since his 6 1/2-length romp in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Co-owned by trainer Keith Desormeaux, Erich Brehm, Lee Michaels, Wayne Detmar, and Gene Voss, he was second in the Feb. 1 San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) in his first start of 2015, and after missing the Triple Crown trail because of an abscess in his right front foot, returned July 4 with a runner-up finish in the Dwyer (gr. III) at Belmont Park.
"I think he can only improve," Kent Desormeaux said. "He's a huge-striding, real estate-loving kind of horse. He loves two turns and the farther they get to do something like that, I think the more of him. His true superior athletic ability to get a mile and a half and a mile and a quarter is what he is best at."
Texas Red paid $5.70 and $2.40 as the 9-5 second choice. Frosted paid $2.20 at odds of 3-5. Japan was third, while Frammento ran fourth throughout. There was no show wagering.
Upstart and Competitive Edge were scratched to face Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the $1.75 million William Hill Haskell Invitational (gr. I) Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park, while the connections of Tekton opted for the July 31 Curlin Stakes, in which he finished third.
Texas Red, bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings out of the Jeune Homme mare Ramatuelle, improved his record to 3-3-1 from eight starts for earnings of $1,692,300. He was a $17,000 purchase by Eric Brehm from the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale when consigned by Three Chimneys.