The $1 million Travers (G1) is now less than three weeks away, but the picture is still cloudy. With SMARTY JONES retired and Belmont (G1) winner BIRDSTONE training up to the race, it appears that starter Bob Duncan will have a gate full of sophomores since no one is being scared away.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Purge, gobbled up speed merchant Medallist on the far turn and romped to victory in the $500,000 Jim Dandy (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Saratoga Race Course Sunday.
Medallist and The Cliff's Edge, the one-two finishers in the 1 1/16-mile Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont on July 11 head a seven-horse field for Sunday's nine-furlong Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Saratoga.
The Breeders' Cup Classic Division Powered by Dodge takes center stage this weekend as 3 year olds and up start serious preparation for the headline event at Lone Star Oct. 30. The action will be televised by the ESPN family of networks.
Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Empire Maker returns to action Sunday, one of seven entered in Saratoga's Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds.
There are so many possible scenarios in this weekend's big stakes, the Haskell, Whitney, and Jim Dandy, handicappers should be plenty busy over the next few days.
Saratoga Notebook: Lewis' Warhol Injured; Dandy Draws 6 Definites; Hennig Has Mares Ready; First 'Chase Mishaps
Warhol, a $4 million yearling recently purchased privately by Bob and Beverly Lewis from John Magnier and Michael Tabor, was injured Tuesday while leaving the Oklahoma training track.
Sackatoga Stable's Funny Cide, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (both gr. I), will carry highweight of 123 pounds in the $1-million Haskell Invitational (gr. I), Monmouth Park's signature event for 3-year-olds, on Aug. 3.
<b>Saratoga Notebook: Migliore Eyes Return; Trainer Hess to Ship Kirtle, Dirty Trick; Lukas Turning it Around; Naming Ozzie</b>
After getting on a horse Wednesday morning for the first time since a frightening spill three days earlier, jockey Richard Migliore decided to take an extra day off before returning to competition.
Although the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park has already started up racing's second season for 3-year-olds, the winner, Came Home, apparently is heading toward shorter races and will not try the top-class colts in the big events. That leaves Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem as the horse to catch for championship honors.
Saratoga Notebook: Jim Dandy Taking Shape; Easyfromthegitgo's Plans Undetermined; Miller Thrown Again
The Jim Dandy on Sunday marks the return from a lengthy layoff for Iron Deputy. Also, trainer Mark Hennig said Gygistar will likely run in the Jim Dandy, but the connections of Easyfromthegitgo were still undecided between the Jim Dandy or the Haskell Invitational.
Although jockey Richard Migliore has pretty much committed to riding Iron Deputy in Sunday's $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga, trainer Nancy Alberts is still hoping Migliore will somehow wind up back on Magic Weisner in the $1 million Haskell Invitational Handicap on the same day.
Puzzlement stepped back into 3-year-old stakes picture Wednesday with an allowance victory and is now likely headed directly to the Aug. 24 Travers Stakes.
Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) winner Buddha will not start in either the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) on Aug. 4 or the Aug. 24 Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga.
New Phoenix Stable's Sarava, who upset War Emblem's Triple Crown bid in the Belmont Stakes, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 Saturday at Churchill Downs
Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Sarava turned in a solid half-mile breeze the morning of June 29 at Churchill Downs as the Kenny McPeek-trained colt continues his preparation for a late summer/fall campaign.
Trainer Ken McPeek said Harlan's Holiday, seventh as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness, will not run in the June 8 Belmont Stakes. But McPeek will still be represented in the third jewel of the Triple Crown by Sarava, an impressive winner of Saturday's Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico.
By Sean Clancy
From The Saratoga Special, reprinted with permission
Scorpion upsets Congaree and A P Valentine in the Jim Dandy.
Congaree, who finished third as the odds-on favorite behind Scorpion and Free of Love in Saturday's Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, came out of the race with an injury to his right front knee and will be out at least 90 days, trainer Bob Baffert said on Sunday. "It's the same knee he had surgery on last September," Baffert said, "but it shouldn't require surgery this time. He just needs some time off."
Swaps Stakes (gr. I) winner Congaree will make his next start in Saturday's $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. I), according to Saratoga racing secretary Mike Lakow.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- Question: When is a prep race not a prep race? Answer: When the prep race is a grade I event.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- In recent weeks, New Jersey racetrack executive Bruce Garland even suggested the Graded Stakes Committee is a puppet of the New York Racing Association and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
Jockey John Velazquez was involved in a spill in the fifth race at Saratoga Saturday, injuring his left shoulder, and was taken to Saratoga Hospital for X-Rays.
Eugene and Laura Melnyk's Graeme Hall upset favored Unshaded and five other 3-year-olds, winning the $400,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) by 1 3/4 lengths Saturday at Saratoga.
A field of seven 3-year-olds will go to post for the $400,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) Saturday at Saratoga, including Godolphin Racing's Curule.
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