Jim Dandy and Diana Stakes Lead the Way Saturday at Saratoga

Jim Dandy and Diana Stakes Lead the Way Saturday at Saratoga

The major local prep for the signature race of this meeting, the Travers S. (G1) in late August, takes place on Saturday in the form of the $500,000 Jim Dandy S. (G2). Among the top draws in this well-matched field are Belmont S. (G1) third Brilliant Speed, who had his final piece of work in advance of this earlier in the week. The Tom Albertrani charge proved his worth on the dirt at Belmont and could be headed for a huge second half of the season.

Alternation took the Peter Pan S. (G2) last time and is another who could evolve into a real nice one. The Donnie von Hemel pupil is bred to be a good one, and has only put in one subpar performance in his career. Dominus is rapidly evolving for conditioner Steve Asmussen and may turn out to be the best of this division when it's all said and done. Gotham S. (G3) hero Stay Thirsty, as well as Scotus, Moonshine Mullin and Tech Fall, are among the likely entrants in this test.

The $500,000 Diana S. (G1) is also set to be held on Saturday, with a top field of fillies and mares likely. Grade 2 dynamo Aviate didn't fire on the soggy lawn at Belmont last time but is one to be reckoned with with a return to her best in here for Bill Mott. The Juddmonte homebred was most impressive two back at Churchill and will take some beating in here under regular pilot Kent Desormeaux.

Mott also may send out Group 1-placed Deluxe in here. This blue-blooded daughter of Storm Cat is out of one of the most productive broodmare's in our time, Hasili, and would be no surprise in her 2011 debut. C. S. Silk led at every call in a Just A Game S. (G1) upset last time at Belmont and looms as a big front-end threat today for Dale Romans. The speedy daughter of Medaglia d'Oro will be winging it early. The talented Desert Sage, Grade 2 heroine and well-bred Giant's Play and Group 1 standout Stacelita, a close third in the United Nations H. (G1) against the boys last time.

Sunday's highlight is the $250,000 Ruffian Invitational (G1), with surging star and recent Ogden Phipps S. (G1) queen Awesome Maria leading the way. The Todd Pletcher-trained daughter of Maria's Mon has rolled to four straight wins, all graded, and will be super tough on this day.

Grade 2-placed stakes winner Absinthe Minded, Sky Beauty S. vixen Distorted Legacy, Ogden Phipps second Payton d'Oro and the much improved Super Espresso, a Grade 3 winner two back.

Also on Sunday is the $150,000 Fourstardave H. (G2).