Macho Again and Julien Leparoux hold off Pyro to take the Jim Dandy.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Macho Again and Julien Leparoux hold off Pyro to take the Jim Dandy.
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Macho Again Pulls Jim Dandy Upset

Preakness (gr. I) runner-up Macho Again split horses coming off the turn, took over inside the eighth-pole and held off a late charge from favored Pyro to post a half-length upset victory in the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) July 27 at Saratoga.

Ridden by Julien Leparoux, West Point Thoroughbreds' Macho Again earned his first graded stakes victory in five tries while going off at odds of 8-1. The Dallas Stewart-trained son of Macho Uno  entered the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy off a fifth-place finish in the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in which Da’ Tara pulled a shocking upset.

Going off as the second betting choice, Da’ Tara set the early pace in the Jim Dandy and dueled with Mint Lane through three-quarters, but faded badly to finish last in a field of seven.

Garnering his fourth win in 11 lifetime starts, Macho Again completed nine furlongs on a ‘good’ main track in 1:51.16. Pyro, sent off at 3-2, came from 10 lengths back at the quarter-pole, but had to settle for second under Shaun Bridgmohan. Iowa Derby winner Tiz Now Tiz Then, who came off the turn to take a brief lead at the top of the lane, was three-quarters of a length further back in third.

Bred in Florida by Milan Kosanovich, Macho Again is out of the Wild Again mare Go Donna Go. Prior to the Jim Dandy his lone stakes victory came in the April 26 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs at seven furlongs, where he won by a half-length over Kodiak Kowboy. This was his first score going two turns.

“This is my first stakes win as a trainer at Saratoga, so I am very excited,” Stewart said. “He’s a good horse, but he needed to step up. The pace was beautiful; he’s a stalker. The Travers (gr. I) would be great if he comes out of this good and everything is good.

 “I feel blessed to train for West Point. They are wonderful people and he is a wonderful horse. He had a tough go from the quarter-pole on. Once he got free and kicked on, it looked like he was going to win – and here comes Pyro with that late run. And Pyro is a good horse, as you know.”

Breaking from post six, Da’ Tara made the lead under Alan Garcia. With Mint Lane pressing him, Da ‘Tara got a quarter-mile in :23.51. Those two were barely separated after a half-mile in :46.94, with Macho Again and Tale of Ekati tracking in the next group.

As they rounded the final turn Tale of Ekati made a bold three-wide move and assumed a narrow lead with Edgar Prado aboard, but the Barclay Tagg trainee was immediately tackled by Tiz Now Tiz Then after straightening away. Macho Again did not let that lead last long however, as he sailed right by Tiz Now Tiz Then and opened up in the stretch.

Pyro made his presence known at the sixteenth-pole, but fell just short of winner.

“He’s game,” Leparoux said. “The race before, he had a rough trip. He’s been coming out. Today, he ran very good off the layoff. I had to go outside in the stretch and he finished very good.

“When I won the Derby Trial and when I finished second in the Preakness, he was game and he was really good. He’s not much different; he hasn’t changed too much. He is still just a game horse. He tries all the time.” 

The winner paid $18.40, $5.40 and $3.40. The exacta (7-4) returned $49, while the trifecta (7-4-1) netted $292.50.

Tale of Ekati finished fourth, followed by Anak Nakal, Mint Lane and Da' Tara.

Pyro trainer Steve Asmussen had this to say after the race: “We finished second. There is nothing more I can say. Go talk to the winner.”

(Chart, Equibase)