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The 3-year-olds once again take center stage this week, this time at Saratoga in the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2), which has drawn a compact group of six. While the field may be a bit short, don’t let that fool you, as many of the top horses in the crop have shown up to do battle in the local Travers Stakes (G1) prep. Last week, we saw Maximum Security take hold of this division with a win in the Haskell Stakes (G1), which only increases the importance of this race.
The Preakness Stakes (G1) winner War of Will headlines the event as he looks for redemption on Saturday. The colt was at an all-time high after winning at Pimlico, which gave him his first Grade 1 triumph, but he struggled to an off-the-board finish last time out in the Belmont Stakes (G1). This was the only colt in the crop to compete in all three Triple Crown races, which also could present a challenge for him, not knowing what might be left in tank.
The Bill Mott-trained Tacitus ran in two of the three Triple Crown legs, hitting the board in both the Kentucky Derby (G1) and the Belmont Stakes (G1). He performed well in both spots, and he was sent off as a heavy favorite in the latter race, but he could do no better than second. He’s trained beautifully since arriving at Saratoga, though, which bodes well for his chances here.
Up-and-comer Global Campaign is the other horse garnering major interest in this spot. An injury forced him to miss the Triple Crown season, which is why he is still flying a bit under the radar. The half-brother of Bolt d’Oro returned to the races at Belmont Park in the Peter Pan Stakes (G3) in May, where he dominated the competition. This colt needed time after that race, so he should be in good form heading into this challenge.
The full field from the rail out for the Jim Dandy includes: Laughing Fox, Tax, Mihos, Global Campaign, Tacitus, and War of Will.
#5 Tacitus – It feels like this should be his time to shine. Other than Maximum Security, this colt has proven to be the most consistent in the crop, but he is missing a top-level victory. Doing it here would be a nice stepping stone towards the Travers later on in the meet. His Kentucky Derby trip was horrendous, and the Belmont Stakes (G1) saw him parked wide and in a tough position throughout. He shouldn’t have those issues here. If he fires his best race, then he might just end up being better than the rest of this group.
#4 Global Campaign – Look out for this guy, who could have been a factor during the Triple Crown season if not for an injury. His lightly-raced past history implies that he’s fragile; however, his connections have done a good job picking his spots. If he can get out to an easy early lead here, then he is going to be ultra-tough to catch. That is the trip that he got last time out in the Peter Pan, and while the waters are deeper here, his running style over this track makes him dangerous. He seems like the type that could be getting better with each start.
#6 War of Will – It’s been an up-and-down year for him, which makes it tough to get a read heading into this race. He started the season with two straight impressive wins at Fair Grounds before injuring himself at the start of the Louisiana Derby (G2). He was still able to come back and run in all three Triple Crown races, which was impressive. We all know what happened to him in the Kentucky Derby, but he vindicated the belief that he could have won the Derby if not for the interference when he won the Preakness. His Belmont Stakes performance was bad, though, with no real excuse, which is why I did not put him on top. Nonetheless, he should be respected.
#1 Laughing Fox – So far, this colt seems to be a cut below the best horses in the crop, but he does look like he is still improving. After a slow start to his career, he was able to capture the inaugural running of the Oaklawn Invitational Stakes in May. He missed the board in the Preakness after that effort, but if he can continue to show improvement, then hitting the board here is not out of the question.
#3 Mihos – He should move forward off of his effort in the Dwyer Stakes (G3), where he was making his first start off of a lengthy layoff. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens knows how to pull off major upsets, and this horse has shown talent in past races. This makes him playable if the price is high enough, as he could at least sneak into the trifecta with a little bit of luck.
#2 Tax – I’ve never been able to fully believe in him, despite the fact that he seems to have a loyal fan base. He will likely be overbet in this spot, which is the main reason why I put him here instead of with Laughing Fox or Mihos. If for some reason Tax doesn’t take a lot of money, then he might become an underneath candidate.
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