The Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes: An Unpredictable Showdown
The Classy Field
The Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga is set to captivate racing enthusiasts with its star-studded field. Despite being labeled as a Grade 2 race, this event promises to offer much more than that. It serves as a vital stepping stone for three-year-olds in their quest for dominance, and the winner of this race will undoubtedly emerge as a force to be reckoned with in the constantly evolving landscape of the division.
Epicenter: The Favorite with a Stellar Record
Leading the pack is the favorite, Epicenter. With an impressive record of four wins in his last seven races and second-place finishes in the remaining three, Epicenter has proven his mettle on the track. Although he hasn’t competed since finishing second in the Preakness Stakes back in May, he remains the 3/2 favorite to claim victory in the Jim Dandy Stakes. Trained by Steve Asmussen and owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, Epicenter is a force to be reckoned with.
Aiming for Glory: Early Voting and Zandon
But Epicenter is not alone in his pursuit of glory. Sharing the spotlight are two formidable competitors: Early Voting and Zandon. Early Voting, victorious in the Preakness Stakes, brings his tactical speed and consistent record to the table. Meanwhile, Zandon, a Grade 1 winner courtesy of his triumph in the Blue Grass Stakes, is expected to excel as a closer, ready to seize any opportunity that may present itself during the race.
Sparse Field, Abundant Quality
Although only five horses are set to compete in the Jim Dandy Stakes, the caliber of this field does not disappoint. Early Voting, Epicenter, and Zandon have amassed earnings surpassing $3.2 million collectively and have consistently finished in the money. These three contenders hold an impressive combined record of 9-5-2 in their 17 races, showcasing their remarkable consistency and talent.
Epicenter: The Explosive Force
Aiming for Redemption
Epicenter, carrying the hopes of his connections and betting enthusiasts alike, stands at the forefront of the Jim Dandy Stakes. As the leading money winner in the field, with earnings exceeding $1.94 million, Epicenter has proven himself a formidable competitor. Despite a minor setback with a sixth-place finish in his September debut at Churchill Downs, Epicenter bounced back and claimed success in his subsequent races, consistently finishing in the exacta.
Triumphs and Speed Figures
During his impressive career, Epicenter has notched three consecutive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, a testament to his exceptional speed and abilities. Clocking figures of 102 in both the Preakness Stakes and the Louisiana Derby, as well as a 100 in the Kentucky Derby, Epicenter has consistently demonstrated his elite performance on the biggest stages. However, despite his significant achievements, Epicenter is yet to secure a Grade 1 victory.
A Vision for the Jim Dandy
In the Jim Dandy Stakes, Epicenter is expected to employ a stalking strategy, patiently waiting off the pace before striking at just the right moment. This race may mirror his performance in the Kentucky Derby, where he found himself in eighth position early on. Although the intense early pace hindered his chances of victory, Epicenter surged ahead on the far turn and remained in the lead until Rich Strike overtook him just yards from the wire.
A Grade 1 Quest
Curiously, Epicenter’s success has thus far eluded him in Grade 1 races. Joel Rosario, the jockey tasked with piloting Epicenter, has already claimed five graded stakes victories at Saratoga this summer. The partnership between Rosario and Epicenter aims to rectify this peculiarity. Epicenter’s owner, Winchell Thoroughbreds Racing Manager David Fiske, expresses his confidence in the horse’s potential and remains hopeful that a Grade 1 victory is in his future.
Early Voting: The Front-Running Contender
A Deserved Break
Early Voting, the talented victor of the Preakness Stakes, has been strategically rested since his triumph in May. Although he has not raced since then, trainer Chad Brown has maintained a consistent training routine, including three noteworthy bullet works in his recent preparation for the Jim Dandy Stakes.
Consistency and Determination
With a 3-for-4 record under his belt, Early Voting has proven his worth as a competitive force. His only loss came by a narrow margin, with eventual Belmont Stakes winner Mo Donegal edging him out in the Wood Memorial. Early Voting’s impressive resume and tactical speed make him a formidable frontrunner in the Jim Dandy Stakes, with his sights set on adding another prestigious victory to his repertoire.
A Clash of Titans
Early Voting’s presence in the Jim Dandy Stakes, alongside Epicenter and Zandon, solidifies the race as a clash of titans. Brown, recognizing the potential of his two star colts, acknowledges their consistent dominance in the three-year-old division. With the midway point of the season reached, these contenders must maintain their strong performances to remain in the upper echelons of the division.
Zandon: The Closers’ Hope
Aiming for Redemption
Zandon enters the Jim Dandy Stakes aiming to redeem himself after a respite post-Derby. His notable victory in the prestigious Blue Grass Stakes secured his Grade 1 credentials and showcased his capabilities. Conditioning matters to trainer Chad Brown, and Zandon’s break following the Derby was a key component of his strategy to prepare the colt for the upcoming Travers Stakes.
The Power of Closers
Zandon excels as a closer, poised to capitalize on any potential speed duels that may transpire between his formidable rivals in the Triple Crown. His impressive performance in the Blue Grass Stakes, masterfully steered by jockey Flavien Prat, is indicative of his abilities. As the best closer in this stacked three-year-old division, Zandon aims to utilize his finishing prowess to leave an indelible mark in the Jim Dandy Stakes.
Introducing Tawny Port: The Dark Horse
A Shrewd Decision
While the spotlight primarily illuminates the formidable trio, Tawny Port enters the Jim Dandy Stakes as a dark horse harboring immense potential. After a lackluster 16th-place finish in the Derby, trainer Brad Cox wisely opted for a different route. Tawny Port rebounded in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby, showcasing his talent and earning Cox’s confidence, leading to his inclusion in this esteemed field.
Rising to the Challenge
Tawny Port aims to make his presence felt on the prestigious stage of the Jim Dandy Stakes. The son of Pioneerof The Nile possesses the necessary blend of speed, stamina, and determination to outperform expectations. As an up-and-coming three-year-old, Tawny Port’s aspirations extend beyond this race, as Cox meticulously grooms him for elite-level competition.
The Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga promises to be a thrilling battle among three exceptional contenders: Epicenter, Early Voting, and Zandon. These three colts embody the essence of the ever-evolving three-year-old division, showcasing their prowess on the track and their ambition for greatness. With their respective strategies and attributes, they will leave an indelible mark on the race and the hearts of racing enthusiasts.
1. How many horses will compete in the Jim Dandy Stakes?
Only five horses will compete in the Jim Dandy Stakes, ensuring a compact yet highly competitive field.
2. Who is the favorite to win the Jim Dandy Stakes?
Epicenter holds the status of the favorite with odds of 3/2, backed by his impressive record and substantial earnings.
3. Has Epicenter won a Grade 1 race?
Surprisingly, Epicenter is yet to secure a Grade 1 victory, despite his remarkable performances. However, his connections remain confident that a Grade 1 win is within his grasp in the future.
4. What is Early Voting’s key advantage in the Jim Dandy Stakes?
Early Voting possesses tactical speed, allowing him to take control of the race from the front. This attribute may prove