A Dandy Jim Dandy

While there is little doubt Del mar has drawn bigger more competitive fields in their stakes so far this year when compared to Saratoga, there is also little doubt Saratoga has had their share of quality as opposed to quantity. That trend will continue Saturday with a dandy of a Jim Dandy stakes.

Only 5 will go to post but three of those 5 are in the running for champion three-year old. Last Saturday at Monmouth in The Haskell we saw Cyberknife capitalize on his trip to beat Taiba and Jack Christopher. Taiba looks like the one to watch out of that race as he had the worst trip of the big three. Can similarly happen in The Jim Dandy on Saturday at The Spa and get someone other than Epicenter, Early Voting or Zandon in the winners’ circle? Personally, I don’ think so but that is why they run the race.

Western River breaks from the rail off a nice win against lesser but also against older horses. He ran a mile and a Half, rare for three-year-olds especially this time of year, The Belmont Stakes excluded. He will need a lot more than he showed last out or to date to make any real noise in here.

Epicenter comes in fresh off losses as the betting favorite in both The Kentucky Derby and The Preakness. His ride by Joel Rosario in The Preakness was publicly criticized by trainer Steve Asmussen but Steve sticks with Joel and the have some redemption on their minds. Although he lost both The Derby and Preakness, he ran good in both races. Just not good enough and he will have to go forward on Saturday to win. He will likely be favored again and my biggest concern with him is not his talent, but maybe he just got good and peaked earlier than some of his peers. We will find out Saturday, but I do not think he wins it.

Tawny Port is the potential Cyberknife of The Jim dandy. He looks a cut below the big three but can potentially capitalize on a trip. That is a big if and a big ask the way the pace in here shapes up.

Early Voting is awfully good and won The Preakness to prove it. I have felt he was underrated and somewhat in the shadow of some of Chad Brown’s other horses since I first saw him on the racetrack. He is coming into his own and I think sitting on another big and probably even better race. He gets the pace advantage and I expect him to be on the lead and cruising under Jose Ortiz.

Zandon has looked sensational on the racetrack training. He looks like a bear. I won’t be surprised if he is the best horse in the race and possibly The Travers winner, but he and the rest will have their hands full running down Early Voting on the front end.

These small fields don’t make the best betting races, but they can be fun to watch and if you are not afraid of singles and going hard at them, they can be rewarding. They also turn these races into chess matches between these riders and we see some great rides and race riding. The Jim Dandy on Saturday should give us all that and more. For more on the Saturday Jim Dandy card at Saratoga watch Saratoga Today on Past The Wire TV!

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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