There is some excellent racing at Saratoga on Saturday, including the Jim Dandy Stakes. However, all eyes are on short-priced favorite Jackie’s Warrior in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap.
It’s the highest-graded race of the weekend and six runners line up to add a Grade I to their record.
Horse racing odds have Jackie’s Warrior at skinny odds to his winning streak.
Class with Favorite
Despite the short odds with the sportsbook, it’s tough to overlook Jackie’s Warrior in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap.
The 4-year-old colt has rattled off three consecutive wins, including the Churchill Downs Stakes and his last start in the True North at Belmont. The winning streak followed a sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, where he was well below his best.
It’s good to see the son of Maclean’s Music get back to the form which saw him the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial over Life is Good.
Trainer Steve Asmussen believes he has prepared him better this preparation, which spells trouble for his opposition.
“He was put back in training this year with the Breeders’ Cup in mind. Last year, he started out in a two-turn race and defined himself in one-turn races,” Asmussen told The Press Box.
“This year, we’ve had less racing to this point and a fresher horse. We’re sure of what we want to do with him. We have three dominant victories and three races left on his calendar. We want to be purposeful and exact.”
Jackie’s Warrior is unbeaten in four starts at Saratoga, so he’s tough to beat and the -300 betting online odds are warranted.
“He’s 4-for-4 at Saratoga, all graded stakes. It’s a wonderful opportunity and we’re very much looking forward to it,” Asmussen added. “He’s an excellent horse and in interviews about him, you want to say something different, but he has just been consistently brilliant.”
Ny Traffic Suited by Distance
Experience is with Ny Traffic, who hopes to have no traffic problems in the field of six.
The Saffie A. Joseph-trained 5-year-old didn’t fully handle the distances during the Triple Crown as a youngster. He finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby and ninth in the Kentucky Derby, but his best finishes have come over shorter distances.
He ran second in the Haskell Stakes behind Authentic and he comes off back-to-back six furlong wins at Belmont and Penn National. It’s solid form and it could be good enough to upset Jackie’s Warrior.
“Since we cut him back, he’s improved to run some fast numbers,” Joseph, Jr. said “Before, he was on the Derby trail and he kind of always didn’t finish up his longer races going a mile, a mile and an eighth. So, since we cut him back, that seems to be what he wants to do.”
The sportsbook has Ny Traffic at +450 to win and that’s a fair price. However, he needs to match Jackie’s Warrior out of the gates and that could be a tough ask.
Willy Boi Riding Winning Streak
Bettors shouldn’t forget about Willy Boi in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap. The 4-year-old has rattled off three consecutive wins, culminating in the Smile Sprint Handicap.
The son of Uncaptured has yet to race anywhere near this class but he has been respected at +750 and he could round out the first three.
We can’t see him beating Jackie’s Warrior at face value but horse racing is a funny game and bookmakers aren’t prepared to overlook his chances.
He went forward at Gulfstream Park last start and a similar tactic could see him hold on. We expect the rider to push forward and set the tempo, so it all depends on whether Willy Boi has anything left in the tank late.