The Jim Dandy at Saratoga on Saturday is a race with serious Travers implications.
The odds on favorite is last year’s two-year-old champion and this year’s Belmont winner Essential Quality. Clearly, he is the horse to beat.
It is always a tough proposition for the seasoned bettor to take a short price on a horse. It becomes particularly tough when the horse is in a race that is not the main goal. You must believe the connections of Essential Quality are looking ahead to the Travers. That would make the Jim Dandy what in the NFL would be called a trap game.
The problem becomes he just looks like he is better than the horses he faces on Saturday and might be able to win with only his B race even if the others are on their A games.
Dr. Jack has only run three times and is one of two horses I can potentially see running a bigger race than anticipated. Todd Pletcher can be deadly at Saratoga, and this horse has plenty of upside. He could have gone in the Curlin on Friday but Todd in what has to be seen as a vote of confidence opts for this race. He won his first two starts, and last out faced the talented Mandaloun at Monmouth on a track I thought played a little funny, and he may not have cared for. Paco Lopez rode without being able to use the crop, and he was an even third. I expect a forward move, and it would have to be significant for him to deal with Essential Quality. Stranger things have happened, and this is the graveyard of favorites.
Risk Taking is coming in off a disastrous race in the Preakness. He entered that race off a bad performance in the Wood Memorial. After a freshening, Chad Brown brings him back here, and you know he had options. Those last two spots, along with coming back here scream confidence in this colt despite the last two sub-par races. A few weeks ago, I wrote a column here about not being afraid to play a horse off a bad race. The horse won. Risk Taking is a risk indeed but fits that profile and is the other horse in here I see with upside.
In a multi-race sequence like a pick 4 or 5 or even 6 if I feel this way, I’d leave out Essential Quality. I’d take the two price horses I think can beat him. It all comes down to the sequence. In this case I think the other races are short enough, and I like long enough process to include most likely winner Essential Quality. Rules are made to be broken, and I’ve pushed or broken them all.
For some cool Saratoga angles and even horses to play or play against, check out Saratoga Today on Past the Wire TV on You Tube. The show is out every race morning during the Saratoga meet!