Saratoga Diary: Jim Dandy
By DICK POWELL
So, it rained most of the night with thunderstorms rolling through the Saratoga area. But they stopped in the morning and the sun started drying things out. The day began with the main track listed as Muddy, the Mellon turf course listed as Yielding and the inner turf course listed as Soft. Races 1 and 2 were taken off the turf then race 6 was switched to the main track. The main track was upgraded to Good before the first race.
The opener saw the red-hot combination of Steve Asmussen and Ricardo Santana Jr. get CARTER GUY up at the wire to win as the lukewarm favorite. It was Asmussen’s fourth win at the meet and Santana has ridden every one of them.
Race 2 saw Western Reserve go to the front in the 1 1/8-mile dirt event and yesterday, he probably would have been home free. David Cohen stalked with ST LOUIE GUY and pounced nearing the top of the stretch to win easily.
Nick Zito had a winner on Friday and it looked like he might do it again when Joel Rosario gunned Rucksack to the front from post 1. He gamely held on when GRAY NILE joined him in the stretch and those two battled down the lane. Luis Saez got the win by a half-length and leads the rider standings with 10 wins.
In race 4, the Phil Serpe-trained entry looked dangerous around the far turn but Junior Alvarado had narrow favorite SATISFY in a strong drive and pulled away to win by three lengths over the second-choice Fair Regis.
Race 5 was a typical Saratoga maiden special weight event for 2yos and it was marred by first-time starter Macho Citizen being pulled up going into the turn and vanned off. No word on his condition but it looked like a front-leg injury and Saez did a great job pulling him up. Asmussen and Santana won their fifth race together when first-time starter ABSOLUTELY AIDEN went to the front and never looked back.
Wild Medaglioad’oro looks like a colt with a future as he got up for second and is bred to be more than a sprinter.
Race 6 was taken off the turf and run at seven furlongs on a main track still rated as Good. Favored Dr. Shane was went to the front by Kendrick Carmouche but David Cohen had him measured as CHRIS AND DAVE went by him to win by over five lengths. It was the second winner of the day for Cohen and Robertino Diodoro.
The Amsterdam Stakes (G3) was up next and it looked like a speed duel would develop again between Strike Power and PROMISES FULFILLED. Johnny Velazquez put Strike Power on the lead through a first half-mile in :43.92 but could not hold on when Saez took over with Promises Fulfilled. The final time for 6 ½ furlongs was an excellent 1:15.18 seconds and Promises Fulfilled’s ability to rate just off the lead is huge for him going forward.
The Vanderbilt Stakes (G1) for older sprinters going six furlongs looked like it might be a horse race when favored IMPERIAL HINT was in behind three horses nearing the top of the stretch. It looked like Javier Castellano took a peak to see if he could find a split but then adroitly went four wide as the tiny gelding won as easily as you will see in a Grade 1 dirt sprint. Despite the ground and momentum loss turning for home, he covered the six furlongs in 1:08.98 while essentially being pulled up. Wow!
The Bowling Green Stakes (G2) did not deserve a loser as 22-1 longshot GLORIOUS EMPIRE had a huge lead turning for home in the 1 3/8-mile event on the inner turf course. Julien Leparoux did everything right on him but his lead began to diminish as Joel Rosario had CHANNEL MAKER in a furious drive. At one point I thought Rosario would go right on by but Leparoux got every last ounce of energy out of Glorious Empire in the final yards. Channel Maker was coming and looked like he got the bob but the photo showed a dead heat for two horses who left everything they had on the turf course.
The Jim Dandy Stakes G2 only had five starters and the public made deep closer Vino Rosso the favorite despite speed being dominant going two turns here the past few days. Hofburg was the exception in the Curlin Stakes yesterday but he was tons the best against that group. At least the Jim Dandy had some depth to it and Jose Ortiz sent Flameaway to the front as expected. Santana stalked the pace in second and got on even terms in the stretch aboard TENFOLD.
Just when it looked like Tenfold would assert himself and draw off, he ducked out not once but twice. Flameaway was still battling down on the inside but Santana got him straightened out and he got the win to complete a triple for he and Asmussen. Vino Rosso was far back but finally showed some interest late and finished strong to be third.
Sunday’s fourth race is a maiden special weight event for juvenile fillies going six furlongs on the main track. I like #3 INTO THE SOUTH to get up time. She was shuffled back a bit from post 1 in her career debut at long odds at Churchill Downs and now gets Julien Leparoux. With the normal improvement expected of second-time starters, she should be able to be the one to beat in the stretch.