Let’s continue with the last weekend races, watch the Saratoga Graded Races videos, in case you missed it; Horse Racing Tote brings you all the details about these US races.
Saratoga Graded Races Videos
Jim Dandy Stakes
It wasn’t the main event at the Spa on Saturday; but racing is about big horses as well as big races and at the moment there aren’t any bigger than Essential Quality, who confirmed himself as the leader of the Classic crop with a narrow win in the $600,000 Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes.
Last year’s champion juvenile colt, trained by Brad Cox and ridden as usual by Luis Saez for owner Godolphin, was using this nine-furlong contest on the main track as a sighter for the Grade 1 Travers Stakes and got the job done well; knuckling down in deep stretch to turn back the challenge of rail-runner Keepmeinmind and poke a finger in the eye of Saratoga’s ‘graveyard of champions’ reputation. The big grey son of Tapit had half a length in hand at the wire, stopping the clock in a tick under 1:50, paying off at a barely visible $2.80. Masqueparade was two-and-a-quarter lengths away in third.
Essential Quality has only one blemish on his eight-race record, a fourth place in the Kentucky Derby, and he will now return to that ten-furlong trip in the Travers; the centrepiece of Saratoga’s summer. “This was a good tightener for him, four weeks out from the Travers,” said Cox. “He’s blown up physically. He’s put on weight, muscle, and is happy.”
Everyone was happy. “He always fights and he always wants to win,” said Saez. To want is to have with Essential Quality, who will probably have to contend with the hard-charging Keepmeinmind again in the Travers; as well as the likes of Hot Rod Charlie and Mandaloun, but he’ll want to win; and who’s to say he won’t?
Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap
The main event on the card was the $350,000 Grade 1 Alfred G Vanderbilt Handicap over six furlongs on the main track, a deep field of sprinters young and old, in which the outsider in the field of nine; Lexitonian, sprang a 34-1 upset with a half-length victory in 1:09 and two-fifths.
It was the Jack Sisterson-trained five-year-old’s first win at the highest level after some near misses, but there wasn’t any fluke about the way he led early under Jose Lezcano; stayed on the pace, and battled on gamely to regain the advantage in the last few jumps. Special Reserve took second, with Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Whitmore running late for third, a length and a quarter further back.
Bowling Green Stakes
The $250,000 Bowling Green Stakes; for older horses over a mile and three furlongs on turf, brought together the last three winners of the race in Channel Maker, Channel Cat, and Cross Border, and it was the latter who retained his title with a comfortable length-and-a-quarter score from Rockemperor and Shamrocket. Channel Cat was fourth and Channel Maker a lukewarm seventh.
The seven-year-old, trained by Mike Maker and ridden by Saez, who was having a good day, got last year’s Bowling Green on a disqualification but this was all his own work. He went the distance in 2:16 and two-fifths and paid out at $14.40. The next stop for Cross Border is likely the Sword Dancer, back at the Spa at the end of August.
Sunday’s feature, the $200,000 Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes, for three-year-olds over six and a half furlongs, was delayed half an hour owing to a lightning storm; and then Jackie’s Warrior did an impersonation of greased lightning when streaking home by seven and a half lengths from Drain The Clock, with Crowded Trade third.
Jackie’s Warrior, a 1-2 favorite trained by Steve Asmussen, now just three short of Dale Baird’s all-time record of 9,445 winners, went to the front on the far turn and just kept rolling, stopping the clock at 1:15 and two fifths on a sloppy surface. He is now three-for-three at the Spa and will be back for the Grade 1 Allen Jerkens later this month.