The Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes is set for this upcoming Saturday in Saratoga, New York, with all five probable runners running in the 2022 Kentucky Derby. The Saratoga Meet just got underway a couple of weeks ago after the NYRA completed their season at Belmont Park with the Grade 1 Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational, won by Classic Causeway, wrapped up racing in Elmont, New York. Now the NYRA is in Saratoga with the Jim Dandy Stakes leading off the major stakes races at Saratoga this year.
This year’s Jim Dandy Stakes is loaded with multiple major stakes winners this year including the G1 Preakness Stakes winner Early Voting who makes his first start since his first place finish in the Preakness. Early Voting performed well in the Wood Memorial this past April at Aqueduct coming in second behind future Belmont Stakes winner Mo Donegal. Early voting looks to run in the Run Happy Travers happening this August at Saratoga where he will match up against Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike and CyberKnife who won the TVG.com Haskell Stakes this past saturday in Monmouth Park. With that being said, Early Voting is a strong choice to pick in this year’s Jim Dandy.
Epicenter, who ran second in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness stakes, looks to get his first win since win in the G2 Louisiana Stakes. The Jim Dandy is a must win for Epicenter as he looks to run in both the G1 Travers Stakes, the largest stakes race in the Saratoga Meet, and then the G1 Breeds Cup Classic this fall at Keeneland. Both of those races will have harder grids then the Jim Dandy. Epicenter lost to Early Voting in the Preakness stakes which is something to keep a watch out for if you are betting on Epicenter to win the Jim Dandy.
Ethereal Roads looks to have a better outing following his 6th place outing in the G3 Ohio Derby where Tawny Port, another runner in this year’s Jim Dandy Stakes, won. Roads is a talented horse don’t get me wrong but the G3 Ohio Derby was probably the worst I’ve ever seen him perform mainly after his win the G1 Sir Barton Stakes.
Here’s the thing with Ethereal Roads however. This season it seems like he has a great run and then a crappy run. His 2022 season starts are relatively good with an opening win at Oaklawn Park and then followed up with a second place finish in the Rebel Stakes. However he performed poorly at Keeneland finishing in 7th in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes and then a fourth place finish in the G3 Lexington also at Keeneland. Following his mediocre performance at Keeneland he finished strong in the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico. However this race will be a huge test to see if Ethereal Roads can improve from his last start and make it up on the board again.
Zandon looks to make his first start following his third place finish in this year’s Kentucky Derby. A Chad Brown horse, Zandon, is one of the better horses in the field for this year’s Jim Dandy. This year, Zandon has performed well with a first place finish in the BlueGrass Stakes at Keeneland. A win here in the Jim Dandy would be able to give trainer Chad Brown a better chance to have Zandon run in the Run Happy Travers Stakes, which is a possibility for this horse. Now I wouldn’t rule Zandon out of winning the Jim Dandy but he will have to grab an early lead as Epicenter who was faster than him in the Kentucky Derby will be looking for a win.
The final major runner in the Jim Dandy is Tawny Port. Tawny Port opened up the season strong with two first place finishes in Turfway Park. However, Tawny Port lost to both Epicenter and Zandon in the G2 Risen Star at FairGrounds this past spring. This may sound bad and could possibly draw you away from betting on this horse but there is one stat that plays key in this horse’s career in the Past Performance Guide. Tawny Port loves sloppy track conditions. Looking at just this season only, Tawny Port performed best in the races where the track conditions were sloppy. Both of the opening races that Tawny Port won at TurfWay Park came during sloppy track conditions as his worse races came on dry conditions. Now he did pick up a win at Thistledown on dry conditions in the G3 Ohio Derby but he’s consistently proven that he races better when on sloppy track conditions. Weather as of now looks to be sunny at Saratoga on Saturday but if a late rainshower comes in making conditions sloppy I’d take Zandon winning.
Closing Thoughts on Jim Dandy Stakes
So, those are the top runners in the Jim Dandy Stakes this Saturday at Saratoga. Almost all of them will be running in the RunHappy Travers also at Saratoga so this race will be a good preview of what is to come in the Travers coming up in late August. My picks for this race are as followed;
Win- Epicenter (2)
Place- Zandon (5)
Show- Early Voting (4)
Trifecta- 4-2-5 box
For Program Entries visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/entries?date=2022-07-29