Jim Dandy Stakes draws solid cast
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The Jim Dandy Stakes may have lost Preakness winner Exaggerator to Sunday’s $1 million Haskell, but it still came up a solid race led by Belmont Stakes one-two finishers Creator and Destin as well as Mohaymen, who makes his first start since finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby.
Destin seeks to give trainer Todd Pletcher a sixth victory in the Jim Dandy, which is the local prep for the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 27.
Destin recorded back-to-back graded stakes victories in the Sam F. Davis and Tampa Bay Derby last winter, propelling him to the Kentucky Derby, where he finished sixth, seven lengths behind the victorious Nyquist.
In the Belmont Stakes, Destin pressed the pace of Gettsyburg before making the lead turning for home under Javier Castellano. It took a perfect ride from Irad Ortiz Jr. on Creator to nail Destin in the final jump. It was a heartbreaking loss, to be sure, but one that proved to Pletcher that Destin belongs with the division’s best.
“He showed his class in the Belmont – he showed he belongs at the top of the division,” Pletcher said. “He’s continuing to improve. He’s a horse we always felt like would probably be better in the summer and fall than he was in the spring, Based on the way he’s been breezing, we feel like that’s the case.”
Destin, a son of Giant’s Causeway, will break from post 4 under Castellano. He figures to lay relatively close to the pace, which figures to be set by the maiden Laoban, who is making his sixth consecutive start in a graded stakes. Laoban, trained by Eric Guillot, will break from post 2 under Jose Ortiz.
“We’d like a target,” Pletcher said. “If we don’t have one, then we’ll take what we have.”
Creator, who rallied from the back of the pack to win the Belmont, would like to see Laoban and Destin mix it up on the front end. Creator, trained by Steve Asmussen for Winstar Farm, will break from the rail.
Mohaymen won his first five races, four of them Grade 2 stakes, including the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth last winter at Gulfstream Park. After finishing fourth as the favorite in the Florida Derby, Mohaymen ran a respectable fourth in the Kentucky Derby.
Immediately after the Derby, the connections of Mohaymen placed their focus on the Travers, and they will use the Jim Dandy as their prep. Junior Alvarado will ride Mohaymen from post 3.
Governor Malibu, fourth in the Belmont Stakes, and Race Me Home, second in the Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont Park, complete the Jim Dandy field.
The Jim Dandy is one of four stakes on an 11-race program that begins at 1 p.m. Eastern. Sharing the bill with the Jim Dandy is the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt for older sprinters, the Grade 2 Amsterdam for 3-year-old sprinters, and the Grade 2 Bowling Green on turf, featuring the multiple Grade 1 and Group 1 winner Flintshire.
Del Mar: Clement L. Hirsch
DEL MAR, Calif. – Stellar Wind, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2015, is not having an easy time this summer.
Stellar Wind made her first start of the year in the Grade 1 Vanity Mile at Santa Anita on June 4 and finished a game second to Beholder, the threetime champion. Beholder was not fully extended when she won that race by 1 1/2 lengths.
For her second start of 2016, Stellar Wind must face the same rival in Saturday’s $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar. A win by Stellar Wind would be a major upset; Beholder, the champion older female of 2015, has won her last eight starts.
The Grade 1 Hirsch Stakes is run at 1 1/16 miles and is the championship race for older fillies and mares at the Del Mar summer meeting. The race is part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program, offering a fees-paid berth to the BC Distaff at Santa Anita on Nov. 4.
Stellar Wind is trained by John Sadler for Pete and Kosta Hronis. Sadler tried to duck Beholder in the Hirsch Stakes and travel to Delaware Park for the Delaware Park Handicap earlier this month. Those plans were thwarted by difficult travel arrangements.
“We found the travel impossible,” Sadler said. “There was nothing I felt good about. We run locally, and here we are.”
Sadler knows that a win by Stellar Wind would be a shock and a career-defining race for his 4-year-old filly. Realistically, Sadler considers the Hirsch as part of a greater plan to have Stellar Wind ready for the BC Distaff.
“It’s the second race of a campaign,” Sadler said. “She hasn’t missed a beat. She’s been very nice.”
The Hirsch will be Stellar Wind’s first start at Del Mar since a win in the Grade 3 Torrey Pines Stakes for 3-yearold fillies last August. She was later second in the BC Distaff at Keeneland last October.
The Hirsch is expected to have a field of five, including Divina Comedia, Off the Road, and The Dream.
Divina Comedia was last of five in the Vanity Mile and won the minor Southern Truce Stakes at Santa Anita on July 3.
Off the Road is trained by Richard Mandella, who also starts Beholder. Off the Road was a Group 1 winner in Brazil in 2014 but is winless in five starts in the United States.
The Dream, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, won two Group 1 races in Chile in 2015 and will make her American debut in the Hirsch.