Weekend Race Review: 3-year old colt picture still unsettled
This past weekend in definition is always one of great importance but when you look at the results of the major races involving 3 year olds. Let’s just say we are nowhere near any closer to figuring out who will reign supreme as top 3 year old colt.
Time for a closer look at a pair of big races this past weekend, the Jim Dandy on Saturday at Saratoga and the Haskell on Sunday at Monmouth Park.
Jim Dandy Stakes
Prior to the race, it looked like Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness winner Cloud Computing were set for a match race while the other three horses in it would compete to complete the trifecta. Don’t tell that to the connections of Good Samaritan, who came through in his first start on dirt to power home to a very convincing win.
For a long majority of this race, Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing were never more than a head or so from each other, and both seemed comfortable as they set a tepid pace. It seemed like these two were set to thrill the Saratoga crowd with a stretch duel but once Good Samaritan hit top form, he left both classic winners in his wake. The effort was very impressive when you consider that Good Samaritan was a dirt race newcomer and the pace was slow. You’d have thought there really was no way that he would uncork that kind of kick but he did.
Absolutely a horse to watch going forward, Good Samaritan will have plenty of attention especially when you figure the Travers is likely next up for this guy. On the flip side, you figure after such a strong effort may be a bounce is forthcoming. I also will add this caveat: I never held Always Dreaming in high regard so his losing the Jim Dandy does not surprise me but Cloud Computing’s inability to hold up surprised me just a little. Maybe just maybe these aren’t the best of the 3 year old crop.
Regardless, the effort by Good Samaritan was strong. I will be especially interested to see how he trains coming into the Travers, if that is the route he takes.
Giuseppe the Great finished second but he was never a threat to the winner. Always Dreaming held on for third but he once again proved to me that he is a one-race wonder. Cloud Computing finished last, and his effort off the layoff was just not good at all. He figures to move forward off of that race. If he runs in the Travers, he will be mostly forgotten at the pari-mutuel windows.
On paper, this rendition of the Haskell figured to be a wide open contest with the seven entrants. Irish War Cry came in as the tepid favorite after a strong second place finish in the Belmont. Timeline who had not lost yet in his career went off as the 9-5 favorite. But when it was all said and done, it was a win with Louisiana flavor.
Louisiana Derby victor Girvin prevailed in a thrilling stretch duel over McCracken to give trainer Joe Sharp his first Grade 1 win. Girvin came off a tough luck second in the Ohio Derby and figured to move forward after working well coming into this race. A rider change to Robby Albarado also seemed to pay dividends for the 9-1 shot. That in definition in horse racing is what we call an overlay. Hopefully, the quarter crack problems that ruined his chances in the Kentucky Derby are a thing of the past. I will be especially interested to see how he trains coming into the Travers.
Girvin has a real chance to stamp himself as the top 3 year old if he wins the Travers next month but it will be a potentially loaded field that he will face.
McCracken,my pick to win the Kentucky Derby back in May, ran a tough luck second as he looked every bit the winner down the stretch before he was nipped right at the finish. He figures to move forward and perhaps make a big impact in the Travers.
Practical Joke ran a tough third but I still maintain that he needs to resort to running middle distance races, perhaps mostly mostly mile length. His kick is much more potent to me at that distance. I would campaign for a spot in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile for this horse but we shall see about him.
Irish War Cry faded to fourth in what I would call a sub-par effort. I wonder if the Belmont knocked him for a loop form-wise. Timeline suffered a bad trip as he missed the break and rushed his way into contention but all of that caught up to him in the stretch. I am willing to forgive that trip but if Timeline goes on to the Travers, that will be a different kind of challenge in quality for him.
Looking Ahead to Next Weekend
Saratoga features the Whitney Handicap for older horses. The headliner figures to be Gun Runner, who can really make things interesting in the older handicap division when you consider Arrogate’s shocking defeat two weeks ago in the San Diego at Delmar. Arrogate beat Gun Runner on the square earlier this year in the Dubai World Cup but if Gun Runner impresses in the Whitney then the division could get tight.
The Whitney will be my feature race of next weekend as part of my series titled Magic Man’s Race of the Week. I will be back later this week to preview the race so until then as always may your winners be plentiful and your wallets be fat.
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Horse Racing Analyst
George Pepis provides racing analysis during each Fair Grounds racing season. He also shares commentary and selections for major stakes events and prep races around the country. In the past, George has hosted sports talk programming on WGSO 990am in New Orleans. He has served as both play-by-play and color analyst on Louisiana high school football radio and internet broadcasts.