2014 Jim Dandy

Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga

TonalistOn Saturday, July 26th, we have the Grade 2 $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. A field of 7 three year olds will travel 1 1/8 mile in the 10th race at Saratoga. The 8/5 morning line favorite is Tonalist. Tonalist broke hearts back in June when he denied California Chrome the Triple Crown winning the Belmont. There is no doubt he will be the one to beat in the Jim Dandy, but let’s take a look and see if we can spot some value here. 2nd on the ML at 2 to 1 is Wicked Strong. Wicked Strong ran 4th in the Belmont, dead heating with California Chrome. Prior to that, he ran a respectable 4th in the Kentucky Derby and some would say that his post position on the far outside hindered his performance. He’ll be in the outside post here, but there is a world of difference between post 7 here and his start from the far outside auxiliary gate in the Kentucky Derby. His stand out performance was in the Wood Memorial where he made a valiant come from behind run and won by 3 ¼ lengths. But for Wicked Strong to pull off the victory here, he’ll need to come up closer to the past and needs someone or several to challenge Tonalist for the early lead. Unfortunately, the race set up is not in his favor.

Cousin StephenSome feel that Commanding Curve could be the one to upset this field at 5 to 1 on the morning line. Commanding Curve rallied for an outstanding second place finish in the Derby, 1 ¾ lengths behind California Chrome. Many were looking for him to pull off the upset in the Belmont Stakes, but pulled up for a very disappointing 9th, 12 lengths out of it. Like Wicked Strong, Commanding Curve faces the same problem- he likes to come from the clouds and it doesn’t help him in the Jim Dandy. As a matter of fact, most of the entries here are faced with this problem. Tonalist will go for the early lead and never look back. So for my value/longshot play I am willing to give the nod to Cousin Stephen at 12 to 1 on the ML. Certainly out-classed in this field, Cousin Stephen is the only one here that I think can try and battle Tonalist for the lead. Back in November he broke his maiden at this distance, winning by 7 ½ lengths. He showed in that race that even early in his career he can get the distance. More importantly, I feel he is coming along at the right time and should show that same sort of performance against this field in the Jim Dandy. For an added bonus, he gets John Velazquez in the irons. My other value play here is Kid Cruz at 8 to 1 on the morning line. To his benefit, Kid Cruz likes to be a little closer to the pace. Should a speed duel between Tonalist, Cousin Stephen and possibly Legend develop, it will help that Kid Cruz is closer to the pace than Wicked Strong or Commanding Curve. Good luck everybody!




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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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