07/29/2007 1:49PM

Mid-Jim Dandy Day


--J Z Warrior's 10-length victory in the second race at a generous $8.40 cast laurels on the race she came out of while casting further doubt on the true quality of the seemingly fast 4 1/2-furlong juvenile races run at Churchill Downs this summer. Cozy Mesa flopped Thursday exiting one of those races and here Jolie The Cat was a false favorite coming out of the same race. While Subtle Aly won the Schuylerville coming out of one of those events, her figure declined from a 97 to a 75 doing so. So beware of those Churchill races, which might not be quite as fast as they first looked. As for J Z Warrior, she emerged from the fast-early fast-late race at Belmont July 29 won by According to Plan, who disappointed in the Schuylerville but had a legit excuse after stumbling badly at the start.

--Maybe I'm making the Jim Dandy too complicated and you're just supposed to single Street Sense as an odds-on layover, but I can't shake the feeling that this is purely a prep for the Travers and that his connections couldn't care less about winning today. Carl Nafzger's m.o. --with Unbridled, Unshaded and Street Sense -- has long been to be a little short in the prep while leaving something in the tank for the major goal. Unbridled lost to stablemate Home At Last one start before winning the BC Classic, Unshaded ran a blah Jim Dandy before winning the Travers, and Street Sense lost a four-way photo against the likes of Dominican and Teufelsburg before winning the Derby.

But where do you turn? Second choice Tiz Wonderful tiz a wonderfully talented horse but going a mile and eighth in stakes company off an eight-month layoff is one tough assignment. (According to the stats in Formulator, Steve Asmussen is an impressive 11-for-56 over the last five years bringing horses back from 180-day or longer layoffs in routes, but none of those was in a stakes race.) The four others have their shortcomings but I can't confidently draw a line through any of them. None of them appears to have much chance of beating Street Sense or Curlin in the Travers, so this may BE their Travers, whereas Street Sense is merely tuning up.

--It never fails: Go out of your way to knock an uninspiring favorite in a race where you love a longshot and they run 1-2 in the wrong order. At this morning's Siro's seminar, Andy Serling and I both liked Pat Kelly longshot Stormy Winter in the 4th but couldn't leave well enough alone and had to express our disdain for the Bobby Flay-owned, Todd Pletcher-trained Sophie's Salad. The Sophie's Salad-Stormy Winter exacta returned $100.50.