Creator and Destin fought out the finish in the Belmont Stakes
PICTURE: Getty Images
By Nicholas Godfrey 11:00aM 30 JUL 2016
Preview: USA, Saturday 11.18pm BST (live on ATR)
Saratoga: Jim Dandy Stakes (Grade 2) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo
A BELMONT Stakes rematch in the Jim Dandy arguably provides the Saturday highlight of a star-studded weekend Stateside as Creator and Destin relive their epic encounter in the final leg of the Triple Crown.
With the Kentucky Derby 1-2-3 due to meet in Sunday’s Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, and the likes of Beholder and Flintshire also in action, there is no shortage of top-class action on tap.
High on that list comes the Jim Dandy, named after the 100-1 shot who stunned the racing world when he beat Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox in the 1930 Travers Stakes.
Now this $ 600,000 contest is the designated Grade 2 trial for next month’s Travers, and Creator (Steve Asmussen/Irad Ortiz) bids to confirm Belmont form with Destin (Todd Pletcher/Javier Castellano), whom he touched off in such agonising fashion for the game runner-up in as last-gasp Classic victory.
“It’s exciting to be running him here at Saratoga and he’s doing really well,” said Creator’s trainer Steve Asmussen. “The Travers is the major goal for him here this summer, but I think he’ll represent himself well in the Jim Dandy.”
Reverse the form?
Destin’s trainer Todd Pletcher is sounding confident about turning the tables, however. “I thought his race was sneaky good in the Derby, and I think the Belmont solidified his status as one of the top colts in this crop,” said Pletcher. “He gives us the impression he’s in the process of taking that step to the next level, and we’ve always felt like he’s the kind of horse that’s going to improve once he gets a little older.”
Governor Malibu (Christophe Clement/Joel Rosario), who met trouble in running when fourth in the Belmont, adds further spice alongside one-time Kentucky Derby favourite Mohaymen (Kiaran McLaughlin/Junior Alvarado).
When he was fourth at Churchill Downs, Shadwell’s Mohaymen finished in front of both Creator and Destin – and his trainer has six winners from eight runners in the opening week at Saratoga.
Ladbrokes: 15-8 Mohaymen, 2 Destin, 7-2 Creator, 7 Governor Malibu, 16 Race Me Home, 33 Laoban
Also on Saturday
Del Mar: Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (Grade 1) 1m½f, dirt, 3yo+ f/m (1.40am Sun BST)
Three-time champion Beholder (Richard Mandella/Gary Stevens), who is targeting a repeat victory against the boys in the Pacific Classic on August 20, bids to confirm her superiority over last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff runner-up Stellar Wind (John Sadler/Victor Espinoza).
Beholder, who has won ten Grade 1s in a stellar career, starts from the rail with Stellar Wind next to her in gate two. A length and a half separated the pair in the Vanity Mile on June 4 – but Beholder, who has won her last eight starts, was never in any danger.
“In a lot of ways, she’s got better every year,” said trainer Richard Mandella. “She still has an ornery streak, but that could be part of why she’s so good.”
Saratoga: Bowling Green Hcap (Grade 2) 1m3f, turf, 4yo+ (9.25pm BST, live on ATR)
Just four opponents for Flintshire (Chad Brown/Javier Castellano) as the top-class middle-distance horse makes his second start since leaving Andre Fabre for the States. The six-year-old is no stranger to Saratoga, having won last year’s Sword Dancer here before finishing second in both the Arc and the Hong Kong Vase.
On his first outing for Brown, he outclassed his rivals in the Grade 1 Manhattan on the Belmont Stakes undercard and will be odds-on to repeat the dose.
“He’s doing really well,” said Brown. “He came to us in really good shape from Andre Fabre, in mint condition. At his age, for a horse to come in looking that good, it’s really a testament to how well both Fabre and Juddmonte managed this horse, as well his whole career with all the travelling he’s done.”
The Breeders’ Cup Turf is Flintshire’s main target this season. “I think he got a lot out of the Manhattan,” added Brown. “Exiting the race he’s a fitter and stronger horse. I feel like the timing of this race works well for him. I hate to take him out of Grade 1 competition but I like where he’s at fitness-wise.”
Saratoga: Alfred G Vanderbilt Hcap (Grade 1) 6f, dirt, 3yo+ (10.40pm BST, live on ATR)
Anchor Down (Todd Pletcher/Jose Ortiz) cuts back two furlongs after chasing home the wildly impressive Frosted in the Met Mile. A confirmed front-runner, he’ll need to get out fast from the rails draw as he bids to unseat last year’s winner Holy Boss (Steve Asmussen/John Velazquez).