07/30/2010 2:53PM

I Don't Get It


While it is true that Monmouth's Haskell Invitational is a richer and more prestigious race than Saratoga's Jim Dandy Stakes, these two races are still essentially the same race. They are both nine furlong events for 3-year-olds run on the same weekend. You would think that with the advantages the Haskell has, the Jim Dandy would have a tough time surviving. But the Jim Dandy remains viable because because it offers something that the Haskell can't: A race over the track for the event both the Haskell and Jim Dandy are stepping stones for, Saratoga's Travers Stakes.

But the Jim Dandy's ability to co-exist with the Haskell appears threatened, and the source of that threat is baffling. On Sunday, one day after Saratoga offers the Jim Dandy, the track offers the Curlin Stakes, one of three stakes races on their card. The Curlin, like the Jim Dandy, is for 3-year-olds at nine furlongs. The only difference between the Curlin and the Jim Dandy, besides purse money, is the Curlin is restricted to those who have not won a graded stakes over one mile this year, a restriction that really doesn't eliminate all that many horses.

You have to question the wisdom of adding another nine furlong stakes for 3-year-olds to the same weekend of the Haskell and Jim Dandy. After all, it's not like the 3-year-old division is ever deep enough after the Triple Crown is over to support three such races in two days. But you really have to wonder about a track that already has one of the two such existing races being the track to add another.

Even with this year's Haskell attracting many prominent horses from this year's Triple Crown, Saturday's Jim Dandy lured a very nice nine horse field. But two of those nine Jim Dandy entrants - Winslow Homer and Miner's Reserve - were also able to enter the Curlin. Winslow Homer and Miner's Reserve are the types who lent quality depth to the Jim Dandy field and made the race attractive. But if they both opt for the softer Curlin, then the Jim Dandy becomes a less attractive seven horse race.

Instead of running the risk of cannibalizing the Jim Dandy, why wouldn't the NYRA run the Curlin next weekend, on the Whitney undercard? I understand that would leave only three weeks between the Curlin and Travers. But the not-so-exclusive restrictive clause in the conditions of the Curlin really speaks to late developing 3-year-olds who by at least partial definition should have little difficulty handling a three week turnaround.