Always Dreaming, who won the Kentucky Derby, and Cloud Computing, who shocked that one in the Preakness Stakes, will settle the score — at least for the time being — in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.
Off the strength of four impressive victories prior to his rude awakening in Baltimore, Always Dreaming has been made the even-odds morning line favorite in the Jim Dandy, a race that was named after the horse that beat Triple Crown champ Gallant Fox in the 1930 Travers.
In fact, it was largely due to Jim Dandy, who bookmakers (there was no pari-mutuel wagering at the time) listed at odds ranging from 100-1 to 500-1 in the Travers, that Saratoga got its nickname as the “Graveyard of Champions.”
But I digress.
At 6-5 on the morning line, Cloud Computing is the marquee horse that I think is most vulnerable on Saturday. Frankly, I just wasn’t that impressed by his Preakness score. Yeah, he broke a lot of “rules” that day — he was only the 10th horse to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown after not competing in the Kentucky Derby since 1960 — but his pace figures are mediocre at best and I don’t think his come-from-behind running style is particularly beneficial in a race without a lot of early zip.
One horse that does intrigue me is Giuseppe the Great. With bargain hunters sure to focus on trainer Doug O’ Neill’s Pavel, I think Nick Zito’s charge could surprise. The son of Lookin At Lucky ran deceptively well in the Dwyer, earning a 98 Brisnet Speed Figure and an outstanding -2 late speed ration (my own measurement of late energy expenditure). With the two main contenders entering the Jim Dandy off of 70-day layoffs, I think Giuseppe the Great’s superior recent form gives him an advantage; whether it is big enough to get him to the winner’s circle remains to be seen.
Speaking of Pavel, he seems to be the “wise guy” horse — and for good reason. He’s only started once, but there’s no denying that it was an impressive debut. In a 6 ½-furlong maiden special weight affair at Santa Anita Park on July 1, the son of Creative Cause battled through fractions of :22-2/5 for the opening quarter and :45-1/5 for the half, before drawing clear through the stretch and stopping the clock in 1:15-2/5 — good for a 95 Brisnet Speed Figure and a -7 LSR. My only concern is the price, which I think will be lower than the 6-1 listed on the morning line.
Rounding out the field is Good Samaritan, who tries dirt for the first time. Trainer Bill Mott is not particularly good at moving horses from the turf course to the main track (-63 percent ROI over the past year) and Good Samaritan has a late-closing style seemingly better suited to the lawn, but the son of Harlan’s Holiday does have ability, having finished within three lengths of the winner in all five of his graded tries, including two Grade I affairs.
My selections are 3-1-2 and I would box the top two in exactas and use both in horizontal wagers.