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Saratoga Weekly Round Up – Jim Dandy Week

 

With the first full week of racing now under our belts, we look back and examine its highlights.

Credit, Joe Bianchino

Kitten’s Dumplings got things started this week with a late-running win in Wednesday’s Grade 2 Lake George Stakes.  The score was another big one for jockey Joel Rosario in this the year that has seen him burst into his profession’s top class – Rosario won May’s Kentucky Derby atop Orb, and is now one of Saratoga’s leading riders.

On Thursday, College Day at The Spa, Rosario would keep his hot streak alive, guiding Central Banker to a win in the featured Quick Call Stakes.  He would also win Sunday’s Grade 2 Amsterdam aboard the furious closing charge of Forty Tales.  The latter was one of the most impressive performances of the week, and one that we will look back on when it comes time for the King’s Bishop, as Forty Tales figures to be an early favorite in the always exciting sprint.

This past week, though, wasn’t about prepping for the King’s Bishop.  It was about preparing the world’s classiest 3-year-olds for the race that will immediately follow it on August 24th – The Travers.  Two Mid-Summer Derby tune-ups were run this weekend, the Curlin Stakes and the Jim Dandy.  Friday’s lesser known Curlin was taken in controversial fashion by Romansh – the Junior Alvarado mount finished second on the wire, but was placed first after winner, Transparent, was disqualified for interfering with a competitor on the far turn.

No controversy was needed in Saturday’s Jim Dandy, though, as Todd Pletcher’s Palace Malice assumed control of the Grade 2 at the top of the stretch, and thundered away from the field for an impressive win – the second fastest in history for a Jim Dandy run at a mile and an eighth.  Pletcher said after the race that while his win in this year’s Belmont was a breakthrough performance, his score on Saturday was even more impressive.  And both trainer and Jockey Mike Smith thought that the colt will have no trouble stretching out to a mile and a quarter for the Travers come August.

Still, despite the performance of Palace Malice, this week at Saratoga belonged, unquestionably, to jockey Johnny Velazquez, who, one year after being inducted to racing’s Hall of Fame, became its home track’s all-time winningest rider.  Velazquez won Saturday’s fourth race aboard the Todd Pletcher trained Unitarian.  It was his 694th career win at Saratoga – a further bit of coronation for a man who figures to retire one of the best jockeys The Sport of Kings has ever seen.

Two other notable performances from this week of racing were Laughing’s front-running win of the Grade 1 Diana, and Dance To Bristol’s furious winning charge in Monday’s week-ending Honorable Miss Stakes. It was Dance To Bristol’s sixth straight win, and one that may well make her the nation’s top female sprinter.

This week, the older horses will come center stage in Saturday’s Whitney Handicap.

For a full preview of that race and of the entire weekend of racing action – including “best bets,” “sure things,” and other betting advice – check out NoTicketSports.com.

Also, follow me on Twitter @Joe_1045 for more live-updates and handicapping tips from Saratoga.

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