The Jim Dandy Stakes has attracted a field of only five runners but it could be one of the more exciting races at Saratoga.
Horse racing odds have Epicenter slightly favored over Preakness Stakes winner Early Voting and it could be a match race down the straight.
However, there are some handy customers in the field, including Zandon and Tawny Port, so it’s anyone’s race.
Epicenter on Verge of Statement Win
It’s rare to see a thoroughbred earn almost $2 million without winning a Grade I race, but that’s the situation for Epicenter.
The son of Not This Time was good enough to finish second behind Rich Strike in the Kentucky Derby and he parlayed that with another runner-up finish in the Preakness Stakes behind Early Voting.
Racing against a small field could help for Epicenter, who has had to deal with wide runs and traffic problems at times. He’s a classy thoroughbred and the sportsbook has taken plenty of money for the favorite.
Winchell Thoroughbreds racing manager David Fiske believes the small field helps his charge.
“In a small field, it takes on some of the characteristics of a match race. It’s a rider’s race and the chips are going to fall where they may. Hopefully, we can get a clean run,” Fiske told BloodHorse. “Everyone is neck and neck. It’s chaos, though Epicenter is doing great. He’s like he’s always been. No one sees any difference in him between the spring and now. He’s the same guy.”
Epicenter deserves a statement win and although the Jim Dandy Stakes isn’t a Grade I, it’s still a huge race on Saturday.
Early Voting Training Well
Early Voting was too good for them in the Preakness Stakes and the Chad Brown-trained runner has every chance to continue his winning streak.
The 3-year-old has been preparing well for Saturday’s feature at Saratoga and there is no reason why the betting online second favorite can’t score another win over Epicenter.
His only defeat came behind Mo Donegal in the Wood Memorial, and Mo Donegal has since won a big race, so the form checks out and we think Early Voting has improved significantly following the defeat.
The only worry Brown has is if he gets to the lead and be left a shot duck at the top of the straight.
“He might get a little lonely if he makes the lead,” Brown said. “It is what it is. I think over time he’ll learn to kick on no matter if he has a target or not. He’s still relatively lightly raced, but I see a maturing, more experienced horse every day.”
Horse racing betting market have Early Voting at 9-5 and he could firm into favoritism on race day.
Don’t Rule Out Zandon
Stablemate Zandon has also attracted the attention of bookmakers. He had the run to suit in the Kentucky Derby, but finishing 1½ lengths behind the winner to hold him in good stead.
The Blue Grass Stakes winner has matured since and he could mature into a handy 4-year-old after this season.
“He certainly got a good trip,” Brown said of the Kentucky Derby. “It looked like he hung a little bit going a mile and a quarter. I have to hope we can regroup at a mile and an eighth where we’ve been successful in a race like the Blue Grass, and then he can use that to try the mile and a quarter again being a few months older.”
He’s a 5-2 chance to win the Jim Dandy Stakes, which is a short price given that Early Voting and Epicenter are in the field. There is plenty of respect with the sportsbook and that could translate into a top-three finish.
We wouldn’t be leaving Zandon would of trifecta calculations.