Today’s Jim Dandy is light on quantity, but not on quality. Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness winner Cloud Computing headline the field in today’s 10th race, and a win by either would likely make the victorious horse your favorite in next month’s Travers Stakes.
Ahead of what’s sure to be many marketing-speak versions of, “All three Triple Crown race winners are pointing to the Travers,” though, is my annual word of caution. It seems like whenever such a matchup is hyped, we get a Travers winner from out of left field. Runaway Groom topped all three major winners in 1982, Will Take Charge topped Orb and Palace Malice in 2013, and most recently, a big gray named Arrogate made Exaggerator and Creator look ordinary last summer. I’m not saying there isn’t cause to be excited, but let’s not go overboard, okay?
FRIDAY’S RESULTS: Our two exacta horses ran third and fifth in the fifth race, and we dropped $20.
SATURDAY’S PLAY: I’ll get involved in the late Pick Five, which features three graded stakes races. I’ll be kind to The Pink Sheet’s copy desk and save space by not spelling out most of the names and just using numbers: 7,8,11 with 3,4,8 with 1,7 with 1 (ALWAYS DREAMING in the Jim Dandy) with 2,3,4,6. Hopefully, we can extract some value out of a heavy favorite this way.
TOTAL WAGERED: $36
Best Bet: Always Dreaming, Race 10
Longshot: Chirping, Race 4
BOURBON RESOLUTION: Finished just a half-length back in his debut, where he was outsprinted early and made a wide move. The third-place finisher from that race has since come back to win, which flatters this one; MOJOVATION: Is one of two in here for Todd Pletcher, but I’m taking a bit of a stand against him. The recent works are solid, but the five-furlong works aren’t as impressive as the four-furlong drills, and there likely won’t be betting value here, either; LIONITE: Fetched $330k at auction last September and earned a bullet for a five-furlong gate drill earlier this month. This barn hasn’t gotten off to a great start at the meet, but this colt seems talented.
HIEROGLYPHICS: Has not run a bad race since being switched to the turf and could sit a dream stalking trip in this spot. A repeat of his most recent effort downstate could win this; PAGLIACCI: Was third in the race my top pick exits and figures to be prominent early in this spot. His lone win came going a two-turn route of ground, and he may appreciate coming back to such a trip; SURPRISE TWIST: Took a step forward to win at second asking and faces winners for the first time. It’s tricky to gauge how Maryland form will translate to Saratoga, but Arnaud Delacour attracts Javier Castellano and we may get a price. DIRT SELECTIONS: PAINTER’S RAGS, PAGLIACCI, JUNKET.
KIRBY’S PENNY: May have been a dirt horse all along despite breaking her maiden here on turf last summer. She was a strong second last out in the slop, and the third-place finisher came back to win earlier in this meet; KENTUCKY DANCER: Ran a clunker last out in a turf experiment and comes back to dirt. She’s been running against weaker foes, but she also hasn’t run a bad race on fast dirt since March of 2016; AREWEHAVINGFUNYET: Steps up to starter allowance company after a win against claiming competition last out at Belmont. There’s a ton of speed signed on, and while the rail isn’t ideal, she could be picking up the pieces late.
EL DULCE: Fetched $200k at auction earlier this year and has worked well for Todd Pletcher. This race is a real head-scratcher, but offspring of Twirling Candy can usually run on turf and his dam was a stakes winner; CHIRPING: Is a longshot on the morning line, but has the pedigree to be a runner. His dam is a half to Grade 1 winners Coil and Chiropractor, and Tom Proctor found the Saratoga winner’s circle with several prices last summer; ULTIMA D: Was a good second when last seen two months ago on the synthetic track at Woodbine. She ran into a next-out stakes winner in her debut and has more of a foundation than any other horse in the field. DIRT SELECTIONS: SAME.
COAL FRONT: Has done nothing wrong in two starts against older, more-experienced competition. He makes his graded stakes debut today, and continued progression would make him very difficult to beat; MO CASH: Has done quite well in Florida and was most recently a close second in the Grade 3 Carry Back. He’s got plenty of early zip and will likely make the lead; EXCITATIONS: Gets the one-turn route he likely wants in this spot. Any speed duel would likely work in his favor, as he should be running well late.
CALL PROVISION: Probably needed his 2017 debut, which was won by a horse competing in today’s Grade 2 Bowling Green. He’s won at this distance before, and you could argue his best race was his allowance win here last summer; MAKER ENTRY: I prefer ST. LOUIE, who won at this distance last out at Belmont and likely wants as much ground as possible. The far outside post for that one is discouraging, but we may get a price; TATHQEEF: Returned to turf with aplomb in his last-out victory. Among the horses he chased going long in Europe last year was eventual Group 1 winner Hawkbill, so there’s back class here. DIRT SELECTIONS: WAR STROLL, ALTAR BOY, TATHQEEF.
Just Got Out (MTO)
Mom’s On Strike
ACK NAUGHTY: Likes to run second, but did so in a stakes race last time out in a race she may have needed. She has four top-two finishes in five starts on this turf course, and she’s a logical favorite; MOM’S ON STRIKE: Turned heads in her turf debut, which came in the Pebbles back in October. She hasn’t raced since, but Joe Sharp can get horses ready off long layoffs, and a repeat of that effort could win this; AWESOME SONG: Has been snake-bitten of late, losing three straight photo finishes. The outside draw isn’t perfect, but she could be the controlling speed under Castellano. DIRT SELECTIONS: JUST GOT OUT, MOM’S ON STRIKE, CRIMSON FROST.
A.P. INDIAN: Was the best sprinter on the grounds here a season ago, and he’ll look to defend his Vanderbilt title. He loves this track, and he could sit just off what figures to be a contested early pace; EL DEAL: Has quarter horse-type early speed and comes north after a dominant win in a minor stakes at Monmouth. Jorge Navarro’s barn is one of the hottest in the country, but this is a major class test; LIMOUSINE LIBERAL: Has won three in a row at Churchill Downs, and shippers from there have done quite well to this point in the meet. He may want a hair longer, but he’s another who would be helped by a scorching pace early on.
BIGGER PICTURE: Certainly reaped the benefits of a solid pace when winning the Grade 1 United Nations earlier this month. He has, however, shown flexibility in his running style, and he won at this route last summer; ASCEND: Pulled off a shocker on Belmont Day when winning the Grade 1 Man o’ War over several rivals that also show up here. The added furlong is a question mark, though, and we likely won’t get any value here; FRANK CONVERSATION: Was a good second in a Grade 2 at Santa Anita when last seen in May. He’s got a running style that indicates he wants this trip, and this barn has shipped cross-country to win major races here before.
ALWAYS DREAMING: Dropped anchor in the Preakness, but I think you can draw a line through that race. Pletcher very rarely runs horses back that quickly, and a return to this one’s Derby-winning form would almost certainly mean a win here; CLOUD COMPUTING: Was very sharp in winning the Preakness, but he had lots going his way that day, between the pace and my top pick’s bounce off his Derby win. He may need to be more forwardly-placed today; PAVEL: Debuted with a smashing win at Santa Anita earlier this month. Going from that race to tackling divisional heavyweights is a tall order, but it sure seems like there’s potential here.
DURABLE GOODS: Was sharp in her debut, and that effort wins plenty of races at that level. Improvement is logical at second asking, and two turns shouldn’t be a problem; WAKE ISLAND: Could easily complete a Chad Brown exacta in the finale. She hasn’t run since November, but her turf races from last season were solid and her worktab is strong ahead of her 2017 debut; FASHION WEEK: Hasn’t turned many heads in two dirt tries, but there’s a lot of turf in her pedigree. Her dam was a Grade 1-placed mare on the lawn, and Velazquez staying aboard for Shug is a plus. DIRT SELECTIONS: WAKE ISLAND, FASHION WEEK, MAGICAL SKY.