Saturday’s $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga may have attracted a small field—just five starters—but what it’s lacking in quantity it makes up for in quality.
Four of the five entrants competed in the Triple Crown series, with the probable favorites #2 Tenfold and #5 Vino Rosso running in two legs apiece. The tricky part is trying to separate these accomplished contenders… while keeping in mind that some or all of them could regress following the grind of the Triple Crown trail.
Consider Vino Rosso. He looked good winning the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. II) by three lengths during the spring, but the strength of that field has since been called into question and he could only finish ninth in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and fourth in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) without an obvious excuse in either race.
Tenfold might have more upside since he’s run just five times in his career, but those five starts have all come since February, and while he ran well when finishing third by less than a length in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), he did receive a favorable pace setup that day and failed to threaten when coming home fifth in the Belmont Stakes three weeks later.
#1 Flameaway won the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) during the winter, but finished thirteenth in the Kentucky Derby and seemed to be at something less than his best when coming home sixth in the Ohio Derby (gr. III) on June 23rd. #4 Sporting Chance won the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga last summer, but he’s gone 0-for-5 since then and was never in contention while finishing sixth in the Preakness.
So with all of this in mind, why not take a shot with #3 Reride, the only Jim Dandy entrant who skipped the Triple Crown series? Trained by Steve Asmussen, the well-bred son of Candy Ride kicked off 2018 by scoring back-to-back wins in the Big Drama Stakes at Delta Downs and the Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland Park. In the latter race, Reride triumphed by 2 ½ lengths over the next-out Sunland Derby (gr. III) winner Runaway Ghost, earning an eye-catching 103 BRIS speed figure.
Reride subsequently shipped to Dubai to contest the UAE Derby (UAE-II), and while he was no match for the front-running winner Mendelssohn, Reride wasn’t disgraced while rallying to finish third over a speed-favoring track that compromised his chances. Upon returning to the U.S., Reride contested the one-mile Mystic Lake Derby over the turf course at Canterbury Park and was beaten less than three lengths while finishing fifth.
Ultimately, I don’t know if Reride is good enough to defeat a field of this caliber, but the return to dirt should help his chances and he’s got enough speed to work out a picture-perfect trip stalking Flameaway through the early stages of the race. His pedigree suggests he could improve with the benefit of maturity, and against this small field of Triple Crown veterans, I think he has a chance to upset the race (or at least finish in the top three) at a big price.
Here’s how I would play the Jim Dandy:
$1.50 trifecta: 3 with 1,2,5 with 1,2,5 ($9)
$1.50 trifecta: 1,2,5 with 3 with 1,2,5 ($9)
$2 trifecta: 1,2,5 with 1,2,5 with 3 ($12)