How to Bet the 2019 Sword Dancer at Saratoga

Nine will travel 1 1/2 miles on the Saratoga inner turf course in Saturday’s $850,000 Sword Dancer Stakes (G1). The lucrative grassy endeavor is a “Win & You’re In” contest that offers a berth in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita on November 2.

ANALYSIS

The speed of the field is likely to come from the inside. Longshots Proven Reserves (#1) (30-1) and Tiz Morning (#2) (50-1) have shown speed in the past, and I envision both of them to be involved from the break.

Channel Cat (#4) (5-1), Ya Primo (#6) (7-2) and Channel Maker (#8) (3-1) will be in close attendance in the next flight, with the other four in the cast relaxed and well off the pace early on.

WAGERS

$1 Superfecta 4,8 with 4,8 with 4,5,6,7,8,9 with all = $48

Here is the cast:

PROVEN RESERVES (#1) (30-1) – Flatter colt draws the rail for his turf debut for the always dangerous Chad Brown. Kentucky-bred has been unplaced from two assignments on the dirt in 2019, and the four-year-old lands in a tough spot to earn a first turf tally. Manny Franco will ride the likely pacesetter.

TIZ MORNING (#2) (50-1) – Morning Line gelding was a game third with claiming foes on this lawn but faces a massive class hike in this spot. The dark bay looks to be outclassed in the field.

NOBLE THOUGHT (#3) (30-1) – Former claimer was an even third on the green with starter allowance company most recently. Mike Maker trainee will need a big step forward to be a factor in his second Saratoga experience.

CHANNEL CAT (#4) (5-1) – Bowling Green (G2) victor kept finding more in securing a brave initial graded stakes tally for Todd Pletcher. Chestnut colt is in excellent current form and shows a pair of solid morning breezes on the green in anticipation of this event. Prime win contender will be forwardly placed throughout under Luis Saez.

PILLAR MOUNTAIN (#5) (10-1) – Improving colt shows a pair of wins in succession, including a facile allowance victory at Saratoga most recently. Irish import is one of two logical contenders in the field for Todd Pletcher, and he gets his class test today in making his stakes debut. John Velazquez picks up the mount atop the streaking four-year-old.

YA PRIMO (#6) (7-2) – Multiple Group 1 victor was a gritty second in the Bowling Green in his U.S. bow. Mastercraftsman colt has put in a pair of bullet morning moves in advance of the Sword Dancer, and any improvement makes him a menacing figure in his second run on U.S. ground.

ANNALS OF TIME (#7) (5-2) – Grade 1 hero is consistently very good and comes in off of an easy allowance victory in preparation of this assignment. One of three in the field for Chad Brown, the Temple City six-year-old has battled injuries throughout his career but continues to be a high-class performer. Morning-line choice stretches out to 12 furlongs for the initial time with Javier Castellano in the stirrups.

CHANNEL MAKER (#8) (3-1) – Multiple Grade 1 winner was a clear second in this race in 2018, and he had an excellent prep for this one when a close fourth in the Bowling Green last out. Bill Mott-trained gelding thrives at marathon trips on the turf and rarely runs a bad race. English Channel five-year-old is a must use with Joel Rosario retaining the mount.

SADLER’S JOY (#9) (9-2) – Kitten’s Joy chestnut draws widest in the field as a tough read in the cast. Tom Albertrani pupil has not been a factor in four straight dating back to 2018, but his closing sixth-place finish while in traffic in the Bowling Green was a smart start to his campaign. Old class horse is an interesting contender if he improves second off the bench, especially if the pace is swift and contested. Kentucky-bred gets a rider change to Jose Lezcano.

PHOTO: Channel Cat (c) Adam Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher

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How to Bet the 2019 Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga

A spectacular field showcasing some of the top fillies and mares in training will vie in Saturday’s $700,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. The nine-furlong affair attracted four Grade 1 heroines in what is the top race of the Distaff division to this point of the 2019 season.

ANALYSIS

The pace could be lively with Coach Rocks (#2) (20-1), She’s a Julie (#3) (12-1) and Golden Award (#6) (8-1) all likely to show a good measure of pace. Midnight Bisou (#1) (6-5) will track in behind along the rail, with the other duo a few lengths behind the filly.

WAGERS

$10 Exacta 1 with 4,6 = $20
$5 Trifecta Key 1 with 4,5,6 = $30

MIDNIGHT BISOU (#1) (6-5) – Division leader is perfect from five starts in 2019 leading up to the Personal Ensign. Steve Asmussen trainee was super impressive in a handy Molly Pitcher (G3) score in preparation of this one, and she draws well on the rail. Midnight Lute four-year-old is twice Grade 1-placed at Saratoga and the Kentucky-bred figures to sit the garden trip in the affair under Mike Smith.

COACH ROCKS (#2) (20-1)Longshot in the cast was game in defeat in the Molly Pitcher but will need a huge step forward here to make a top-three case for trainer Dale Romans. Oxbow filly was unplaced in her pair of prior attempts at The Spa.

SHE’S A JULIE (#3) (12-1) – La Troienne Stakes (G1) vixen dueled on the lead before checking in third in the Shuvee (G3) on the course and distance most recently. Steve Asmussen pupil has run well in both local attempts, but she will need a forward move in this stern test. Ricardo Santana Jr. has the assignment.

ELATE (#4) (7-5) – Standout mare missed by a neck in a thriller here in 2018 and rates a major chance with her best effort. Bill Mott trainee comes off a smashing victory in the Delaware Handicap (G2), and she put in a strong half-mile move on the Oklahoma training track most recently. Medaglia d’Oro mare looms large beneath Jose Ortiz.

WOW CAT (#5) (5-1)Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) runner-up was a huge second in the Shuvee in her seasonal bow for Chad Brown. Five-year-old daughter of Lookin at Lucky has a lot of back class and will surely be closer here than she was in 2018 when 10 lengths back in this affair. John Velazquez inherits the mount.

GOLDEN AWARD (#6) (8-1) – Rapidly improving daughter of Medaglia d’Oro gives Bill Mott a pair of fine threats in the field. Four-year-old was much the best in a recent Shuvee tally, and she could be the horse with the highest ceiling in the cast. Half-sister to Kentucky Derby (G1) hero I’ll Have Another gets a nice draw outside and will be tracking the pace throughout beneath Tyler Gaffalione.

PHOTO: Midnight Bisou (c) Coady Photography/Sam Houston

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How to Bet the 2019 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga

Seven fillies and mares will travel seven-eighths on the Saratoga main surface in Saturday’s $500,000 Ballerina Stakes (G1). The field is led by Grade 1 winners Separationofpowers and Mia Mischief, the one-two finishers of the 2018 Test Stakes (G1).

ANALYSIS

Come Dancing (#2) (6-5) and Minit to Stardom (#6) (8-1) are both extremely swift from the gate and could knock heads from the start. Mia Mischief (#5) (5-1) will be tracking that pair, with Special Relativity (#1) (12-1) and Separationofpowers (#4) (9-5) in close attendance while stalking in the next flight.

WAGERS

$10 Win #1 Special Relativity = $10
$5 Exacta Box 1-5 = $10
$2 Trifecta Box 1,4,5 = $12

Here is the cast:

SPECIAL RELATIVITY (#1) (12-1) – Course specialist moved her mark to four-for-four with a Shine Again Stakes triumph most recently. Cowboy Cal filly smoked a bullet half-mile on the Oklahoma training track Saturday and gets a fine post draw on the rail for her Grade 1 debut. Robertino Diodoro pupil has never been better and retains the services of David Cohen.

COME DANCING (#2) (6-5) – Grade 2 starlet finished a strong second in the Ogden Phipps (G1) in her latest venture behind Midnight Bisou. Carlos Martin charge was a daylight winner in her latest Saratoga venture, and the daughter of Malibu Moon brings serious early zip to the affair. Javier Castellano will ride the speedster.

PACIFIC GALE (#3) (20-1) – John Kimmel trainee is winless from six outings in 2019 and finished sixth in the Honorable Miss Handicap (G3) on this strip last time out. Flat Out filly could get a robust pace to rally into, but she will need a substantial step forward to challenge for the top prize.

SEPARATIONOFPOWERS (#4) (9-5) – Two-time Grade 1 queen had a fine prep for the Ballerina with a wire-to-wire tally in the Bed o’ Roses (G3) at Belmont Park. Candy Ride filly is two-for-three at Saratoga and has trained in fine fashion in advance of her local return. Kentucky-bred will track the pace under Jose Ortiz.

MIA MISCHIEF (#5) (5-1) – Humana Distaff (G1) vixen chased lone speed before tiring to fourth in the Honorable Miss Handicap (G2) last out. Into Mischief filly will improve in this affair making her third start off the shelf. Ricardo Santana Jr. will guide the classy bay and have her within range from the start.

MINIT TO STARDOM (#6) (8-1) – Crack sprinter has not been headed in three races in succession capped by a 1 1/2-length score in the Honorable Miss. Jose Camejo trainee draws outside of the other pace in the field and continues her good form run with a bullet morning drill in the interim. Alex Cintron will be in the silks atop the fleet filly.

DAWN THE DESTROYER (#7) (15-1) – One-run closer draws outside in the field and will be doing her best work inside the final furlong. Kiaran McLaughlin pupil has yet to win a graded stakes race and will need a lifetime-best to make the frame in this fine cast. John Velazquez will be in the stirrups once again.

PHOTO: Special Relativity (c) Adam Coglianese Photography

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How to Bet the 2019 Pacific Classic

by J. Keeler Johnson

Saturday’s renewal of the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar might not be the strongest in recent memory, but this 1 1/4-mile “Win & You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) is still shaping up to be a great betting race.

I’m excited to play the Pacific Classic in part because I’m planning to oppose morning-line favorites Seeking the Soul (#5) (3-1) and Pavel (#3) (7-2), at least for win purposes. Yes, they’re classy Grade 1 winners, but Seeking the Soul has yet to reproduce his best form away from Churchill Downs, and Pavel is an infrequent winner (3-for-17 lifetime) whom I’m hesitant to trust at a short price.

The slow and tiring nature of the Del Mar main track figures to place stamina at a premium, which is why I find Mongoliam Groom (#9) (20-1) appealing. His relentless, grinding style isn’t flashy, but it nearly carried him to victory in the 1 1/16-mile San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar last month, when he rallied boldly to fall a length short of catching the highly regarded Catalina Cruiser.

For his effort, Mongolian Groom received a career-best 103 BRIS Speed rating (plus an eye-catching 109 Late Pace rating), and I suspect he’ll be even more dangerous while negotiating a longer distance in the Pacific Classic. Back in the spring, he finished game a third in the 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita Handicap (G1) behind Gift Box and McKinzie, earning a 101 BRIS Speed rating while finishing 1 3/4 lengths ahead of the future Cougar II Handicap (G3) winner Campaign (#8) (6-1).

So let’s ponder this – Mongolian Groom has run well against Catalina Cruiser and McKinzie, two horses who would be favored to win the Pacific Classic. He’s run well over the tricky track at Del Mar. And yet he’s 20-1 on the morning line?

At that price, I view Mongolian Groom as a significant overlay in the wagering, so a simple win bet would be a logical approach. But since I believe the morning-line favorites are vulnerable, I’ll instead key Mongolian Groom with “ALL” in the exacta. If Mongolian Groom cracks the top two and we catch another longshot for first or second place, the payoff could be huge.

WAGERS

$1 exacta: 9 with ALL ($9)
$2 exacta: ALL with 9 ($18)

Good luck!

PHOTO: Mongolian Groom (far outside, red cap) finished second to Catalina Cruiser in the San Diego Handicap (G2) on Saturday, July 20, 2019, at Del Mar © BENOIT PHOTO

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How to Bet the 2019 Del Mar Handicap

by J. Keeler Johnson

There are several classy, accomplished horses entered in Saturday’s $250,000 Del Mar Handicap (G2) at Del Mar, all of them vying for a “Win & You’re In” berth to the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).

Some bettors will be tempted to side with the old veteran Itsinthepost (#7) (7-2), a seven-time Grade 2 victor seeking his first victory since May 2018. Others will favor Marckie’s Water (#4) (7-2), late-running winner of the Charlie Whittingham Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park, or perhaps United (#5) (3-1), runner-up in the Whittingham and a recent allowance winner at Del Mar.

I can’t argue with anyone who wants to support these obvious contenders, but I’m going to aim for a bigger payoff and invest my money in The Great Day (#6) (5-2).

A multiple Group 1 winner in his native Argentina, The Great Day has shown flashes of potential since arriving in North America. In his U.S. debut, a strong edition of the Prince George’s County Stakes at Laurel Park, he had plenty of run turning for home, but never got a clear path and had to steady repeatedly while shifting lanes and searching for room. With a clean run, he might have challenged for victory.

The Great Day received a better trip in the 1 3/16-mile Arlington Handicap (G3) on July 13 and rallied from midpack to finish second behind Bandua, who gave the race a form boost by returning to finish third in the Arlington Million (G1).

As the lone East Coast shipper in the Del Mar Handicap field, The Great Day might find the competition a bit easier on Saturday, since California-based grass runners tend to be a cut below the division elite. He’ll pick up the services of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez and should get a bit of pace to run at thanks to Acclimate (#9) (12-1) and Ritzy A. P. (#2) (12-1), two speedy front runners who figure to vie for early supremacy.

If The Great Day starts at a fair price (4-1 or higher in my opinion, representing a 20% chance of winning), I’d be happy to place a sizable win bet and call it a day. But if his odds dip lower (or if you want to seek a bigger payoff), you might also key him in the exacta with Marckie’s Water and United.

WAGERS

$10 to win on #6 The Great Day
$2 exacta: 6 with 4,5 ($4)
$3 exacta: 4,5 with 6 ($6)

Good luck!

PHOTO: Del Mar ©Benoit Photo

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How to Bet the 2019 Del Mar Oaks

by J. Keeler Johnson

Saturday’s $300,000 Del Mar Oaks (G1) might be held at Del Mar racetrack in California, but this hasn’t stopped out-of-state shippers from dominating recent renewals of the 1 1/8-mile turf test.

Generally speaking, East Coast grass runners – particularly younger grass runners – are superior to their West Coast counterparts, and this trend has been readily apparent in the Del Mar Oaks. Five of the last eight Del Mar Oaks winners were based primarily outside of California prior to triumphing at Del Mar.

Furthermore, the last two locals to nab the Del Mar Oaks (Fatale Bere in 2018 and Sharla Rae in 2015) were returning to California after contesting the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park.

Speaking of the Belmont Oaks, that lucrative prize has produced three of the last four Del Mar Oaks winners, which bodes well for the chances of probable Del Mar Oaks favorite Cambier Parc (#1) (5-2). Trained by Chad Brown, who excels with fillies and mares on turf, Cambier Parc is the most accomplished runner in the field by virtue of her triumphs in the Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3) and Wonder Again Stakes (G3).

Cambier Parc possesses a sharp turn-of-foot (she sprinted the final three furlongs of the Wonder Again in :33 3/5), and she didn’t run badly at all in the Belmont Oaks, finishing third after racing wide in a slow early/fast late race. The runaway winner, Concrete Rose, returned to dominate the rich Saratoga Oaks, while runner-up Just Wonderful subsequently finished a solid fifth against older mares in the Nassau Stakes (G1) at Goodwood in England.

Although the Belmont Oaks and Del Mar Oaks are both Grade 1 races, the Belmont Oaks was a much tougher race on paper, so Cambier Parc will be taking a subtle but significant drop in class on Saturday. This might be all she needs to rebound and secure a career-defining victory.

The tricky part for handicappers will be profiting from this opinion, since Cambier Parc figures to be a short price in the wagering. To boost the potential payoff, let’s key Cambier Parc on top in the trifecta. Underneath, we’ll emphasize graded winners Mucho Unusual (#10) (5-1) and Lady Prancealot (#11) (8-1), who loom as the best of the local runners.

WAGERS

$1 trifecta: 1 with 10,11 with 4,5,7,10,11,13,14 ($12)
$1 trifecta: 1 with 4,5,7,10,11,13,14 with 10,11 ($12)
$1 trifecta: 1 with 7,10,11 with 7,10,11 ($6)

Good luck!

PHOTO: Cambier Parc (c) Adam Coglianese Photography

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How to Bet the 2019 Alabama Stakes

An outstanding field of nine sophomore fillies will go postward in the $600,000 Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday. The 1 1/14-miles feature attracted five standout graded stakes winners in what promises to be a most exciting affair.

ANALYSIS

The pace of the race will come from Ulele (#6) (8-1), Dunbar Road (#1) (8-5), Lady Apple (#2) (6-1) and potentially Street Band (#5) (10-1). If pilot Jose Ortiz sends Dunbar Road to the lead early on from the rail, I think it could be her coming-out party on Saturday.

From the back of the pack, Off Topic (#8) (10-1) gives the impression of a filly who will thrive at 10 furlongs. I will use her and Lady Apple for value in my vertical wagers.

WAGERS

$20 Win #1 Dunbar Road = $20
$10 Exacta 1 with 2,8 = $20
$1 Trifecta Key 1 with 2,7,8 with all = $21

DUNBAR ROAD (#1) (8-5) – Once-beaten Chad Brown pupil earned a whopping 116 BRIS Late Pace number en route to a stylish win in the Mother Goose (G2) last out. Fine prospect shows promising local works and could thrive going 1 1/4 miles for the initial time. Jose Ortiz will be atop the Quality Road filly.

LADY APPLE (#2) (6-1) – Steve Asmussen charge has won graded stakes in two of her last three, sandwiched around a third-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Curlin filly has improved with each two-turn assignment and should enjoy a ground-saving trip throughout in this affair. Kentucky-bred has upset appeal under Ricardo Santana Jr.

AFLEET DESTINY (#3) (30-1) – Longshot has failed to hit the board in five straight appearances and faces a daunting task against a very deep field today. Hard Spun filly would be a shocker.

CHAMPAGNE ANYONE (#4) (10-1) – Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) victress comes off a fourth-place finish in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) in her Spa debut. Ian Wilkes trainee smoked a bullet five-eighths in the interim and figures to move forward second time off the layoff.

STREET BAND (#5) (10-1) – Multiple graded stakes queen was impressive in her Indiana Oaks (G3) romp off the shelf for conditioner Larry Jones. Istan three-year-old is very good on her best days and could be a major player with regular pilot Sophie Doyle in the silks.

ULELE (#6) (8-1) – Black-Eyed Susan (G2) runner-up finished in the same spot when beaten a half-length in the Iowa Oaks (G3) most recently. Improving Brad Cox pupil has gate presence and could be the leader early on beneath Joel Rosario.

POINT OF HONOR (#7) (5-2) – Classy Grade 2 heroine ran a huge second from off the pace in the Coaching Club behind a budding superstar. George Weaver trainee has a powerful turn of foot, and she might be the one to hold off late under Javier Castellano.

OFF TOPIC (#8) (10-1) – Consistent late runner from the Todd Pletcher barn was a respectable third in the Coaching Club and figures to improve with another furlong to work with in this affair. Dark bay filly will get up late for a minor award at a nice price. Manny Franco will ride one again.

KELSEY’S CROSS (#9) (15-1) – Bay filly gets a grueling post draw while widest of all in the field. Florida-bred has never run on the dirt, and this is a very demanding assignment against this particular cast.

PHOTO: Dunbar Road (c) Adam Coglianese Photography/Elsa Lorieul

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How to Bet Saturday’s Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar

Saturday’s secondary feature race at Del Mar is the $200,000 Sorrento Stakes (G2) for two-year-old fillies going six furlongs on the main track. The six-horse field is led by morning-line favorite Amalfi Princess (#3) (8-5), a fast and impressive first-out winner for trainer Simon Callaghan. She will likely face her toughest challenge from Comical (#1) (2-1), trained by Doug O’Neill and coming all the way back west after a successful trip to Saratoga, where she knocked off the Schuylerville Stakes (G3) over a tough field in her last race.

ANALYSIS

Comical is the horse to beat based on her prior graded-winning experience and her winning experience at the Sorrento’s six-furlong distance. She’ll be tested in the Sorrento, mainly by the strong on-the-pace, off-the-pace 1-2 punch of trainer Simon Callaghan with Amalfi Sunrise and Shedareshedevil (#4) (3-1).

Those horses encompass the three favorites in the wagering, so you’ll need to take a stand somewhere. The recommendation is to bet trifectas with Comical on top of the Callaghan duo, as well as Powerfulattraction (#2) (5-1), who will potentially add value to your exotics and still has plenty of upside with the help of first-time Lasix.

WAGERS

$2 Trifecta key 1  /  2, 3, 4  /  2, 3, 4 = $12

Here’s a brief look at the Sorrento field:

COMICAL (#1) (2-1) won her maiden at first asking back on Memorial Day weekend at Santa Anita Park, and that victory was enough to convince trainer Doug O’Neill to ship to Saratoga for the Schuylerville Stakes (G3), where she pressed the pace, took over and held on to dispose of a very tough field. Not sure she’ll face any better here than the ones she just beat three weeks ago, and she’s already a proven graded winner at six furlongs. The other horses in this field are all one-time winners of races between 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 furlongs. Comical also gets a little lucky in this race because she owns sharp tactical speed and this race does not appear to be loaded with front runners. Unless the shipping back and forth across the country took something out of her, she’s the horse to beat.

POWERFULATTRACTION (#2) (5-1) came from off the pace at Los Alamitos to win her career debut last out and was pulling away late at five furlongs. The waters get a lot deeper in this spot against four other good-looking winners, but this horse was impressive enough in her first start to merit consideration here and she still has loads of upside with first-time Lasix for this outing.

AMALFI SUNRISE (#3) (8-5) won by 6+ lengths at first asking last out for trainer Simon Callaghan and earned a giant 101 BRIS Speed figure at 4 1/2 furlongs in the process. She was well bet in that debut and certainly was no secret, and the victory was impressive in that she did not get things her own way up front when forced to press a fast early pacesetter before taking over and drawing clear. She could hook up on the front end with Comical in this race, and will need to have enough in reserve to hold off the closers at six furlongs.

SHEDARESTHEDEVIL (#4) (3-1) is the “other” Simon Callghan-trained runner in this race, coming to his barn after breaking her maiden at first asking at Churchill Downs back on June 13. She rallied from a few lengths off the pace to score by three lengths at 5 1/2 furlongs, and gives Callaghan a strong 1-2 punch from off the pace along with the trainer’s speedy Amalfi Sunrise.

PRINCESS MO (#5) (20-1) is a maiden who lands in an extremely tough spot to look for what will be her maiden win in this stakes race. The filly was soundly beaten by Amalfi Sunrise in the first start for both horses last time out, settling for a distant third after trying to rally from far back but flattening out at 4 1/2 furlongs. This is a tough assignment, even if she does improve with the added real estate.

SHANGHAI KEELY (#6) (10-1) crushed Pleasanton maidens in her first career start last out in a five-furlong turf dash, but that was a soft spot relative to some of these rivals and her BRIS Speed figures will need to get better in order to repeat versus this bunch. She fended off another front-running challenger to win that career debut, but wasn’t going that fast up front and probably won’t make the lead against these.

PHOTO: Comical and jockey Javier Castellano earn a close win in the Schuylerville Stakes (G3) at Saratoga on July 11, 2019 (c) Adam Coglianese Photography/Derbe Glass

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How to Bet the 2019 Whitney Stakes

Five millionaires will lead a superb field of eight postward in the $1 million Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday. The 1 1/8-mile test is the early race of the year for handicap runners, and the winner gets a free pass to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita Park in this “Win & You’re In” event.

ANALYSIS

The pace of the race is a bit of a tricky read, but I do expect McKinzie to be sent early on under Mike Smith. He will be on top or forcing the pace into the first turn.

Thunder Snow was close in the Met Mile (G1) last time when tracking substantial early splits, and he will be close up early, as will recent Suburban Stakes (G2) romper Preservationist from the outside draw.

Yoshida, the best closer in the cast, will bide his time early on and hopes to run them down inside the final furlong.

WAGERS

$10 Trifecta: Key 6 with 4,7,8 = $60
$2 Superfecta: Key 6 with 4,7,8 = $12

Here is the cast:

IMPERATIVE (#1) (30-1) – Nine-year-old has seen better days and could be making his final appearance in the Whitney. The accomplished son of Bernardini has lost a few steps and would be a massive surprise under Jose Bracho.

FOREWARNED (#2) (30-1) – Capable colt from the Uriah St. Lewis barn has some solid allowance form in preparation of this demanding assignment. But this is far from an allowance field, and the son of Flat Out looks overmatched in this spot.

MONONGAHELA (#3) (12-1) – Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3) romper comes in off a lifetime-best performance and another move forward puts him in the mix to get a piece of the pie. K One King five-year-old has some tactical speed, and he might secure a decent trip along the rail since the pair of runners to his inside do their best work from well back. Jose Lezcano rides the exotics contender.

THUNDER SNOW (#4) (3-1) – Classy Godolphin homebred leads the field with earnings in excess of $16 million. Son of Helmet was beaten just a length in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) when close to rapid fractions throughout in a fine prep for this titanic battle. Two-time Dubai World Cup (G1) star looms a huge chance with his best in his Saratoga debut.

VINO ROSSO (#5) (6-1) – Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) winner comes in fresh for Todd Pletcher in a third career attempt at The Spa. Curlin colt was a closing third in the 2018 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) on the course, and these connections can never be counted out locally. John Velazquez will ride the chestnut.

MCKINZIE (#6) (7-5) – Bob Baffert trainee is a consistently excellent colt coming off a troubled second in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park. Street Sense four-year-old is versatile and shows some rapid morning drills in preparation of his initial start at Saratoga. Mike Smith has not won this race since 1993, but he has the right contender to add a second Whitney victory to his resume.

YOSHIDA (#7) (10-1) – Multiple Grade 1 hero has been sixth in each of his three assignments in 2019, but in his defense, he has ran into some of the best horses in the world along the way. The Bill Mott trainee was a fine winner of the Woodward Stakes (G1) last summer in his Saratoga debut and is training well as of late. One-run closer will be moving best inside the final furlong as the value of the field with Joel Rosario riding.

PRESERVATIONIST (#8) (3-1) – Rapidly improving son of Arch earned a monstrous 116 BRIS Speed number in his Suburban Stakes (G2) victory for trainer Jimmy Jerkens last out. Lightly raced six-year-old has won five of his last six races and is a budding star in the handicap division. Kentucky-bred bay put in a strong five-furlong work over the surface last weekend and rates an obvious chance beneath Junior Alvarado.

PHOTO: Yoshida wins the Woodward Stakes (G1) under jockey Joel Rosario on September 1, 2018, at Saratoga (c) Adam Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher

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How to Bet the Jim Dandy Stakes

The Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga is a Grade 2, $600,000 prize for three-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles that has often been an enigma for handicappers.

On one hand, it is a rich and important race on the three-year-old stakes calendar, but on the other hand it also really boils to be a prep race for next month’s Travers Stakes (G1), which is the most important prize remaining in the three-year-old division until the Breeders’ Cup.

They often say that pace makes the race, and certainly the pace – or lack thereof – will play a role in the outcome of the Jim Dandy. There is no legitimate pacesetter entered in the six-horse Jim Dandy field, and deep closers in the race such as Tacitus and Laughing Fox will suffer. The horses in the field who do have tactical speed – Tax and Global Campaign – should take advantage of a soft pace scenario and be able to knock off their higher-profile rivals.

ANALYSIS

This year’s Jim Dandy drew a pair of big names from the Triple Crown races – Preakness Stakes (G1) winner WAR OF WILL, and Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) winner and Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up TACITUS. As those horses exit the Triple Crown grind and ramp-up for their ultimate goal in the Travers, the Jim Dandy represents a prime spot to go against such horses and key your plays on the other best horses in the race – TAX and GLOBAL CAMPAIGN. Those runners would be cranked and pointing for a win in the Jim Dandy much more so than others who have their eyes set further down the road to the Travers Stakes and beyond. Plus, Tax and Global campaign will enjoy a pace edge in the Jim Dandy as horses that have legitimate tactical speed.

Go against the closers like LAUGHING FOX, MIHOS and TACITUS, and key your plays on the horses in the Jim Dandy with tactical speed, Tax and Global Campaign. Throw in War of Will in your trifectas, even though he probably won’t be fully cranked until next month’s Travers Stakes.

WAGERS

$5 Exacta Box #2 Tax and #4 Global Campaign = $10
$1 Trifecta Box #2 Tax, #4 Global Campaign, and #6 War of Will = $6

Here’s a brief look at the Jim Dandy field:

LAUGHING FOX (#1) (15-1) is an extreme late runner who will be at a pace disadvantage in this running of the Jim Dandy which seems to have come up soft in the speed department without much pace to chase. Won the newly-created $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational as a springboard to a fifth-place finish in the Preakness Stakes (G1), where his late run was too late at 1 3/16 miles with a better pace to chase for trainer Steve Asmussen. Tough assignment.

TAX (#2) (8-1) seems to be at his best at this distance of 1 1/8 miles, with his two best efforts to date coming at nine furlongs in his win in the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct followed by his second-place finish in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) this spring behind Tacitus. Pressed the pace last out in the Belmont Stakes (G1) en route to a respectable fourth-place finish, and has since gone back to the drawing board for trainer Danny Gargan with a cutback in distance into this race in mind all along. Has tactical speed, which will give him a big advantage over many of the late runners in this field who will have little legitimate pace to chase, perhaps other than this guy who will be cruising up front along with Global Campaign.

MIHOS (#3) (15-1) earned his claim-to-fame win back on January 5 at Gulfstream Park in the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes where he took advantage of a fast pace to pass the field at one mile around one turn. Fell short after that in easier spots in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park and the Dwyer Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park. Now lands in another spot in this race where he just doesn’t figure to get enough pace to help set-up his chances for a late-running upset.

GLOBAL CAMPAIGN (#4) (2-1) exits an eye-opening victory in the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park in an effort that looks even better now that runner-up from that race Sir Winston went on to win the Belmont Stakes (G1) in his next outing. The BRIS Speed figure he earned in the Peter Pan was better than any Speed figure ever earned by horses like Tacitus and War of Will in all of their outings in the Triple Crown and on the Triple Crown trail this year. Pointed for this race, and has good tactical speed, which will come in handy in a race without much pace. Should get the jump on horses like Tacitus and War of Will, and should prove a worthy opponent to Tax up on or close to the front end in the Jim Dandy.

TACITUS (#5) (7-5) put together back-to-back wins in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) and Tampa Bay Derby (G2) this spring and was second in the Belmont Stakes (G1), so he’s one of a select few horses that could still lay claim to the three-year-old championship depending on what he does during the second half of the season, starting with this race. The Belmont is a taxing grind and this late runner might struggle to get up in time at 1 1/8 miles with a questionable pace setting up in this race and eyes looking ahead for trainer Bill Mott to next month’s 1 1/4-mile Travers Stakes (G1). Good but beatable morning line favorite at 7-5 odds.

WAR OF WILL (#6) (5-2) is fresh off the Triple Crown grind of having raced in all three of the Kentucky Derby-Preakness-Belmont, and definitely has neck month’s Travers Stakes (G1) in mind when entering this race to kick off the second-half of the season. Don’t get me wrong, with the three-year-old division up for grabs, they’re trying to win this, however, might not be pointed to be at their best for this race as opposed to the rematch with Maximum Security upcoming in the Travers. Preakness winner also took the Risen Star Stakes (G2) and Lecomte Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds this year, so we know this 1 1/8-mile distance hits him between the eyes despite the fact that none of those wins came at the Jim Dandy’s distance of 1 1/8 miles. Will be low odds, however, and vulnerable in his first race back since the Triple Crown grind.

PHOTO: War of Will (c) Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

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