>>Go to the PPs for the Jim Dandy | Post Time 6:25 EDT Saturday
The Grade 2 Jim Dandy, for 3yos over 1 1/8 miles on the main track, is the traditional local prep for Saratoga’s centerpiece race, the Grade 1 Travers Stakes later in the meet. This year’s running remains very much in flux and is difficult to evaluate ahead of time due to the confluence of races available in this division at this time of year. As of now, #4 Upstart has already been declared for the Haskell on Sunday at Monmouth, where he will try for an inflated purse vs. the likes of American Pharaoh. Both #5 Competitive Edge and #6 Tekton also hold entries into other races this weekend, and, as of this writing, it remains unclear where they will be running.
Regardless of what happens with those two, the horse to beat in the Jim Dandy is #7 Frosted. A Grade 1 winner over this distance in April’s Wood Memorial, Frosted has been expertly developed by trainer Kiaran McLaughlin since encountering a breathing issue early on the Derby Trail. He earned a new career top TFUS Speed Figure of 115 for that easy win in the Wood, and he would go on to back that race up very well in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. No match for American Pharaoh in either of those two races, he still ran the two best races of his career (figures of 124 and 125), and he appears to be set for a big second half to the season.
His most dangerous rival on Saturday figures to be last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, #3 Texas Red. After missing the Triple Crown season this year, he got his 3yo campaign under way in last month’s Grade 3 Dwyer over a one-turn mile. He walked away second-best to the undefeated Speightster on that day, but as a starting point on the way back, things could hardly have gone better for him. Settled off a moderate pace early (note Pace Figures/fractions shaded blue for the 3/4 call), Texas Red took a game run circling the field through the turn and raced on strongly despite chasing a talented winner with plenty left in the tank. The 117 TFUS Speed Figure he put up there is a new career top, and makes for a nice place to start the second half of the year for a horse who earned a figure of 115 in that Breeders’ Cup win.
#2 Japan is an interesting horse taking a big step up in class on Saturday, and while we continue to hold out hope that he can develop into a top horse for his Hall of Fame trainer, he is going to need to improve greatly in order to stay with Frosted and Texas Red on Saturday. He has run some nice races and has the right pedigree, and he sure looks the part, but this is a tall order right now.
The Play: We like Texas Red in the Jim Dandy, but we’ll wait and see how things shake out over the next couple of days, as a series of defections would negatively impact his late-running style, while aiding the more tactical Frosted.