Alpha draws inside for Jim Dandy
Updated: July 27, 2012, 5:39 PM ETBy Steve Haskin | Bloodhorse
The TCI crew talks about the impact of this weekend's Haskell Invitational and Jim Dandy Stakes on the 3-year-old division moving into the second half of the season.
A deep, competitive field of eight will face off in the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes July 28 at Saratoga Race Course to determine who continues to the $1 million Travers Stakes Aug. 25. Entered in the 1 1/8-mile race are Teeth of the Dog and Fast Falcon, the one-two finishers in the Dwyer Stakes; Neck 'n Neck, runaway winner of the Matt Winn Stakes; Alpha, winner of the Withers and Count Fleet and runner-up in the Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial; Prospective, winner of the Ohio and Tampa Bay Derbys; Atigun, third in the Belmont Stakes; Liaison, second in the Affirmed Handicap and third in the Swaps Stakes; and My Adonis, winner of the Long Branch Stakes. My Adonis, ridden by Javier Castellano, is expected to be the pacesetter, with Teeth of the Dog, Neck 'n Neck, and Prospective all giving chase. Neck 'n Neck is one of the more intriguing horses in the race, coming off a 6 1/2-length score in a Churchill Downs allowance race and a 7 1/4-length romp in the Matt Winn, also at Churchill, earning triple-digit Beyer speed figures in both races. "The reason for his improvement is very simple; maturity," said trainer Ian Wilkes. "He's finally maturing and not making mistakes in his races. He's grown up. I loved the way he handled the track in his work [five furlongs in :59 3/5]. Two horses breaking out of the gate pushed him early and he had another horse working in front of him, so he had a target. He cooled out really well and ate up that night. "We'll learn a lot on Saturday. The Matt Winn was a very competitive race. I thought I had a great shot to win, but to win by seven lengths against those horses you have to go on to the next step and see where you belong for the Travers." Teeth of the Dog, trained by Michael Matz, and the Nick Zito-trained Fast Falcon seem to be developing an interesting rivalry. In their first meeting, the Easy Goer Stakes, Teeth of the Dog won comfortably by 3 3/4 lengths, but had to fight back to defeat Fast Falcon by a neck in the Dwyer Stakes. Teeth of the Dog, a son of Bluegrass Cat, has won both his starts with Joel Rosario, who will be aboard again in the Jim Dandy. Despite a 12th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Alpha, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin for Godolphin Racing, is expected to get a lot of support at the windows thanks to his earlier races, inclusing his fast-closing second to Gemologist in the Wood Memorial. Ramon Dominguez will ride. One horse to definitely keep an eye on is the Bob Baffert-trained Liaison, who has rounded back in form over Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park, finishing a fast-closing third, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the Swaps Stakes following a second, beaten a half-length, in the Affirmed. The son of Indian Charlie, winner of last year's CashCall Futurity at Hollywood, ran a respectable sixth, beaten seven lengths in the Kentucky Derby at odds of 57-1. Martin Garcia comes in from California to ride. Mark Casse is expecting a big effort from Prospective, who has won stakes at Thistledown, Woodbine, and Tampa Bay Downs this year and also seems to be rounding back in form off two impressive victories. One of the more improved horses is Atigun, who finished third, beaten only two lengths, in the Belmont Stakes. Julie Leparoux will be aboard the son of Istan . My Adonis is coming off a victory in the Long Branch and was second behind Hansen in the Gotham Stakes back in April and third in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream.
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