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Mystic Guide prevails in G2 Jim Dandy
Credit: NYRA / Joe Labozzetta

Mystic Guide prevails in G2 Jim Dandy

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Godolphin Stable’s Mystic Guide, expertly piloted by Jose Ortiz, made a last-to-first run to capture Saturday’s $150,000 Jim Dandy (G2) for sophomores going 9 furlongs at Saratoga Race Course.

The 57th running of the Jim Dandy was one of four graded stakes on the final Saturday of the Saratoga summer meet, joining the $200,000 Prioress (G2) for 3-year-old fillies; the $200,000 Glens Falls (G2) for older fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles on turf; and the $500,000 Woodward (G1) for 3-year-olds and up contested at 1 1/4 miles.

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Despite the addition of blinkers following a third-place finish in the Peter Pan (G3) last out, Mystic Guide raced from the back of the six-horse field as Celtic Striker and First Line battled through opening splits of :23.37 and :47.61 seconds on the fast main track.

Jesus’ Team, racing in third position down the backstretch under Luis Saez, made an inside rush approaching the far turn as Mystic Guide began to stir with Liveyourbeastlife, piloted by Junior Alvarado, angling six-wide for the stretch run.

Jesus’ Team and Mystic Guide took over as the field straightened away at the top of the lane, with the latter continuing to find separation with Liveyourbeastlife ranging into contention. But there was no reeling in Mystic Guide, who secured the 3/4-length win in a final time of 1:49 flat.

Liveyourbeastlife completed the exacta, 3/4 of a length to the better of Jesus’ Team. Rounding out the order of finish were Dr Post, Celtic Striker, and First Line. Happy Saver was scratched.

Trainer Mike Stidham said the addition of blinkers were instrumental in the victory.

“It did exactly what I was hoping,” said Stidham. “I know he was last down the backside, but he was definitely there when Jose called on him today whereas the last time he was too late and had no chance. Today, he was there when Jose called on him.

“Once he got through turning for home, I felt really good about him because he has a big kick,” added Stidham. “He put himself in a better spot today and gave himself a chance. It really is a pleasure to win a race like this at Saratoga.”

Ortiz piloted Mystic Guide for the first time in the Peter Pan on July 16 and he said the Ghostzapper chestnut was a different colt today.

“Last time, he was very spotty. He would make a run and then stop running for a sixteenth of a mile and then want to run again,” said Ortiz. “Today it kept him more focused. It didn’t give him more speed early, which I thought it would, but it kept him focused.

“I was expecting to be a little bit closer, but he was flat footed out of the gate and when we were last, I was just trying to keep in contact with the field,” he added. “I was planning on being a little closer with the blinkers on. I think it helped him to go between horses and coming home he wasn’t so spotty like last time.”

Credit: NYRA / Janet Garaguso

Alvarado, aboard the runner-up, said Liveyourbeastlife improved once switched outside for the stretch run.

“There was a point after the half-mile pole where he couldn’t quite keep up with the pace and then he switched to the left lead and I could feel him struggling there,” said Alvarado. “That’s when I lost my race. I tried to keep pushing him because I knew I had more horse but from the half-mile to the three-eighths pole he was struggling. I decided to make a move outside and then he started picking it up real nice, but he just had a little bit too much to do at that point. He still came up with a nice run at the end.”

Stidham said Mystic Guide, a maiden winner at second asking in March at the Fair Grounds, could make his next start in the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness (G1), on October 3 at Pimlico Race Course.

“It certainly is a race that we’ll look at,” said Stidham. “If our horse comes out of the race really well and we like the way he trains in the next couple of weeks, the Preakness would certainly be on the table no matter what happens today [in the Kentucky Derby].”

Bred in Kentucky by his owner, the Ghostzapper chestnut is out of the multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Music Note. He banked $82,500 in victory while improving his record to 5-2-1-2. Mystic Guide returned $6.60.

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