The Jim Dandy Stakes is a key lead-up to the Travers Stakes and it has attracted a field of six Saturday.
Headlining the field is Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality. Bettors are hoping to avoid another short-odds disaster after Malathaat suffered defeat in the American Oaks.
Essential Quality is the -500 favorite to win, so all eyes are on the prized son of Tapit. However, the field includes the talented Masqueparade, Keepmeinmind, and Weyburn, so it’s an open contest.
Essential Quality Set
The ultimate target for Essential Quality is the Grade I Travers in four weeks, but trainer Brad Cox has set the 3-year-old to win on Saturday.
“We want to win the race,” Cox told Daily Racing Form. “We’re pretty confident that he could win the race and rebound and come back in four weeks and move forward again.”
There is little doubt Essential Quality is the star attraction of the field. Jimmy Bell, President of Godolphin USA, is confident with their runner.
Brad H. Cox Racing (@bradcoxracing) July 29, 2021
“There’s always concern when racing against top company,” Bell said. “Certainly Saratoga has seen its fair share of heavy favorites be beaten, but we’re very optimistic regarding Essential Quality’s chances in the Jim Dandy.
“He came out of the Belmont in great shape and Brad has been pleased with all of his preparations so far.”
His win in the Belmont Stakes was a gutsy effort to down Hot Rod Charlie and Rombauer. Despite it not being the best 3-year-old class in recent history, Essential Quality looks to be the best of them.
He scored five consecutive wins to start his career before running fourth in the Kentucky Derby. He was well-backed to win the event, but not everything went right in the run. However, after sitting out the Preakness Stakes, he returned in fine order.
Having not run since May is a worry, especially against fit horses. However, we’re not surprised horse racing betting markets have the favorite at astronomically low odds to win the Jim Dandy Stakes.
Masqueparade Up for the Challenge
After an average start to his racing career, Masqueparade has hit back with three consecutive wins.
The son of Upstart finished fourth on debut before running sixth and third in subsequent runs at Fair Grounds. However, after rising in distance to 1⅛ miles, his form has improved significantly.
He has rattled off three consecutive wins, culminating in the Grade III Ohio Derby at Thistledown where he defeated King Fury and Keepmeinmind.
Trainer Albert Stall was pleasantly surprised by his effort and he’s confident of a solid effort.
“We feel good about him,” Stall said. “We always thought he had potential, though the Derby Day race caught us off guard so we tried the Ohio Derby. He was running comfortably there and then opened up and held off the three graded stakes winners that came at him in the stretch. I thought that under the circumstances that was as good of a race as he could run.”
Masqueparade after waking up from a Thursday morning nap at Al Stall’s barn in the Saratoga backstretch. The Ohio Derby winner runs Saturday in the Jim Dandy at Spa. pic.twitter.com/H8vdJPjwoT
Tim Wilkin (@tjwilkin) July 29, 2021
Stall admits to Essential Quality being the best horse in the field, but a Grade II placing is nothing to overlook.
“It’s definitely a one-horse race right now, but it’s Saratoga and we’ll do the best we can,” Stall said. “I’m not worried about Essential Quality running off the screen like a champion. If that happens, so be it.”
Masqueparade is on the second line of betting with the online racebook at +400, so he’s in line to quinella the 2021 Jim Dandy Stakes.
Weyburn Could Burn Bettors
We wouldn’t leave Weyburn off our tickets. The 3-year-old won the Grade III Gotham Stakes before finishing fourth in the Wood Memorial behind Bourbonic.
His most recent effort came in the Pegasus where he finished second behind Mandaloun, so he has been performing well against top-level opposition.
Trainer James Jerkins spoke earlier this year about Weyburn’s mental immaturity, but he is starting to put it all together.
“He seems to be getting better about the gate, although race day will be different with a lot of people making a lot of noise, just hope he doesn’t get too rattled,” Jerkens said.
Irad Ortiz Jr. rides Weyburn, who is on the third line of betting at +500 alongside Keepmeinmind.