One of the key races and dates on the Saratoga Stakes schedule is Saturday’s $600,000 Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes. The 58th running of the major prep for the Aug. 28 Travers drew just six runners but includes the top 3-year-old in the country, Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality.
The four leading jockeys in the current Saratoga meet will be riding in the race, including Luis Saez on Essential Quality and Jose Ortiz, Irad Ortiz Jr. and Joel Rosario. The jockeys will wear armbands and participate in other activities to raise funds for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) and raise awareness of National Disability Independence Day,
The Jim Dandy Stakes is a 1 1/8-mile race that has been held annually at Saratoga Race Course since 1964. The race for 3-year-olds serves as the major local prep for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 28 — the biggest day of racing at Saratoga. The race is named in honor of Jim Dandy, who won the 1930 Travers at odds of 100-1 to defeat Triple Crown-winner Gallant Fox.
BEST HORSE RACING REBATES AND BONUSES
JIM DANDY STAKES 2021
Race 9 on Saturday, July 31, at 5:40 p.m. EST.
1 – Dr. Jack (15-1)
- Jockey: Jose Ortiz
- Trainer: Todd Pletcher
2 – Masqueparade (4-1)
- Jockey: Miguel Mena
- Trainer: Albert Stall Jr.
3 – Weyburn (6-1)
- Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
- Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
4 – Keepmeinmind (6-1)
- Jockey: Joel Rosario
- Trainer: Robertino Diodoro
5 – Essential Quality (1-2)
- Jockey: Luis Saez
- Trainer: Brad Cox
6 – Risk Taking (15-1)
- Jockey: Manny Franco
- Trainer: Chad Brown
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RACE CONTENDERS, INCLUDING ESSENTIAL QUALITY
Essential Quality will go off at odds of less than 1-2, so there is no money to be made betting on him to win. He ran his best race in winning the Belmont Stakes last month and has posted three straight Equibase Speed Figures of 109. The champion 2-year-old has won six of seven starts and only missed in a troubled trip and close fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. With no true front-runner in the race, Essential Quality could set the pace or sit just off of Weyburn and Masqueparade, who won the Ohio Derby as the slight favorite last month in his stakes debut.
Keepmeinmind finished third in the Ohio Derby a half-length behind the winner. He’s a closer with a jockey change to strong stretch rider Joel Rosario. Horse Racing Radar (HRR) projects him to be closer to the pace in this race and notes that Keepmeinmind has just one win in nine starts but has run against some of the best horses in the division in finishing fourth in the Preakness, seventh in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, won by Essential Quality. Keepmeinmind ran his fastest race in the 1 1/8-mile Ohio Derby in posting a 105 speed figure.
Weyburn finished fourth in April’s Wood Memorial and came back to run second in the minor TVG Pegasus Stakes last month with his fastest race and a 109 speed figure.
Six-time Jim Dandy-winning trainer Todd Pletcher enters Dr. Jack, who is lightly raced with just three starts and finished third in the Pegasus Stakes, 2 1/2 lengths behind runner-up Weyburn and winner Mandaloun.
Other July 31 races and notes from Saratoga
Ahead of Race 9 and the Jim Dandy Stakes on July 31 is the $350,000 Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap. The 6-furlong sprint drew nine runners, including Mischevious Alex (2-1), Firenze Fire (3-1), Whitmore (4-1) and Special Reserve (9-2).
Also, Race 10 is the $250,000 Grade II Bowling Green Stakes for older horses going 1 3/16 miles on the inner turf. Trainer Bill Mott has three entries in the nine-horse field, including the favorites Channel Maker (5-2) and Moon Over Miami (7-2). Channel Maker finished third in the Bowling Green Stakes last year and then won a pair of Grade 1 races before finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf to close the year. The competitive race also features Cross Border, whom Horse Racing Radar notes has won five of six starts at Saratoga.