Saturday’s Jim DandyStakes and Sunday’s Haskell Invitational make up one of the summer’s biggestracing weekends at Saratoga and Monmouth Park, respectively. Bothcontests are 1 1/8-mile battles, featuring the year’s best three-year-old’sdueling for their share of a combined $1,500,000 in purses.
Jim Dandy Stakes –Saturday, 5:45 p.m. (ET) – Saratoga (Race No. 10) – Versus
No. 6 Stay Thirsty wassecond best in last month’s Belmont Stakes, holding his own throughout thesloppy track’s 1 ½-mile marathon. The son of 2006 Jim Dandy winnerBernardini keeps hot rider Javier Castellano (10-for-42) aboard for Saturday’strip upstate, with odds makers listing Todd Pletcher’s colt as a lukewarm 5/2morning-line favorite.
No. 2 Dominus (3/1), No.3 Brilliant Speed (7/2), and No. 7 Alternation (7/2) will look to give StayThirsty his biggest challenges. Dominus has won 2-of-4 career starts,wiring last month’s 1 1/16-mile Dwyer
Stakes at Belmont. Brilliant Speedhas had increased speed in his last four starts, most recently finishing thirdin the Belmont Stakes. Alternation edged out Adios Charlie by a head towin May’s 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan Stakes, closing with career high speed.
No. 1 Moonshine Mullin(15/1), No. 4 Scotus (8/1) and No. 5 Will’s Wildcat (15/1) round out the field,looking for an upset. Moonshine Mullin invades from north of the borderafter winning last month’s Victoria Park Stakes at Woodbine, taking thesynthetic track’s 1 1/8-mile affair by a nose. Scotus has finished in themoney with all five lifetime starts, but steps up in class after goingfour-wide to win Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn Stakes in June. Will’sWildcat faded to fourth place in Monmouth’s Long Branch Stakes, three weeksago, following win tickets in 2-of-3 starts.
Selections: No. 7Alternation and No. 4 Scotus. Alternation’s connections have picked thisspot carefully and keep the always-dangerous Ramon Dominguez mounted. Scotus looks ready to hit the board again as a possible late-bloomer of thisyear’s crop.
Haskell Invitational –Sunday, 5:43 p.m. (ET) – Monmouth Park (Race No. 12) – ABC
No. 5 Shackleford leadsa stacked eight-horse field in the Haskell, with oddsmakers posting a 5/2morning-line on this year’s Preakness Stakes winner. Dale Romans’ coltfollowed May’s conquest with a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes,fading in the stretch after leading the duel’s initial furlongs.
No. 1 Coil (3/1) makesthe trip east for trainer Bob Baffert, who captured his fourth Haskell lastyear with Lookin at Lucky. The west coast mainstay saw a three-win streakend in this month’s Swaps Stakes, losing by a head as 1/2 ‘chalk’ to DreamyKid.
No. 3 Pants On Fire andNo. 6 Ruler On Ice make up trainer Kelly Breen’s notable ‘Fire and Ice’twosome, both listed at 4/1. Pants On Fire bounced back from a dismalninth-place showing in May’s Kentucky Derby with a win in Monmouth’s PegasusStakes last month. Ruler on Ice captured the Belmont Stakes as a 24/1long shot, and looks to follow the hoofsteps of his father, Roman Ruler, whowon the 2005 Haskell.
No. 8 Astrology (9/2) switchesriders back to Julien Leparoux, who led Steven Asmussen’s contender to cash aplace ticket in March’s Sunland Derby. Asmussen is off to a hot start atthe Spa, saddling 3-of-12 winners.
No. 2 Joe Vann (15/1),No. 4 Concealed Identity (12/1) and No. 7 JJ’s Lucky Train (20/1) make up theHaskell’s longest shots. Joe Vann has won three of his last five startsfor trainer Todd Pletcher, who is 13-for-43 at Monmouth. ConcealedIdentity finished two lengths behind Pants On Fire in the Pegasus, following a10th-place flop in the Preakness. JJ’s Lucky Train has hit theboard in 9-of-10 outings, but will have to stretch out from racing at sevenfurlongs in three of his last four contests.
Selections: No. 6 Ruler On Ice and No. 4 Concealed Identity. Ruler On Ice has thebloodline and closing kick needed to capture the Jersey Shore’s marqueeevent. Concealed Identity hit career-high speed in the Pegasus, preppinghim nicely to cash as a double-digit overlay in Sunday’s return.