07/25/2013 3:46PM

Byron King: Selections for the Jim Dandy, San Diego Handicap, Crowd Pleaser

Barbara D. Livingston
Mylute returns after a freshening and faces a Jim Dandy field with plenty of pace to aid his rally.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – With three graded races, including a pair of Grade 1’s in the Prioress and Diana, the best racing in the country Saturday is at Saratoga.

But with the latter two races short on depth, and with the favorites in those races seeming without obvious faults, those are watch-not-wager events for this handicapper.

The Grade 2 Jim Dandy, the last of the three stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, is a different story. It drew 10 runners, led by Belmont winner Palace Malice, though it could drop to nine if Vyjack, who also was entered in Sunday’s Haskell, goes in that race instead.

All due credit to Palace Malice for winning the Belmont – as no Triple Crown race is easily won – but my perspective is that he caught a fatigued group of horses who couldn’t go the 1 1/2-mile distance of the Belmont.

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Look at the closing splits and final time as Palace Malice was able to pull away by running the last quarter-mile in 27.58 seconds, completing 1 1/2 miles in 2:30.70. That resulted in just a 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

But as the Belmont winner and a horse trained by Todd Pletcher, he is sure to take action, likely starting below his 5-2 morning line.

The best alternative to Palace Malice is 7-2 shot Mylute, who quietly ran well in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, finishing fifth in a blanket photo for the show in the Kentucky Derby and then finishing third in the Preakness.

Both the Derby and the Preakness were faster than the Belmont from a speed-figure standpoint, so much so that Mylute, in defeat, ran a 99 and 103 in the two races – superior to anything Palace Malice has run.

Mylute’s Preakness, his top on Beyers, also was his best from a class perspective as he managed to gain ground on the leaders despite victorious Oxbow going three-quarters in a slow 1:13.26. In kicking home strongly, he outfinished Derby winner Orb for the show.

Now Mylute returns after a standard post-Triple Crown freshening and catches a Jim Dandy field with plenty of pace to aid his rally. Entered are a pair of free-running speedsters, Moreno and Freedom Child, who only know how to run fast from the start. They should ensure a lively tempo, stringing out the field and giving the late-running Mylute a good shot to get a clear trip.

San Diego Handicap

Paynter’s amazing story from near-death touches the heart, but this bettor has always preferred to bet with his head, not the heart. And the ol’ noggin says just about everyone will be betting Paynter to win Saturday’s San Diego Handicap at Del Mar, making him an underlay and potentially creating value on others.

Although Paynter was certainly sharp in victory during a comeback June 14 at Betfair Hollywood Park, he can’t be considered a sure thing in the San Diego, stretching out in distance off an easy prep and now competing over a Polytrack surface over which he has no racing experience.

So let’s shoot for some modest value in a short field with 4-1 shot Clubhouse Ride, who has recorded three consecutive runner-up finishes to Game On Dude and then a win in the California Stakes before he finally went off form with a fourth in the Hollywood Gold Cup.

Well positioned in third early in the Hollywood Gold Cup, he simply didn’t fire and faded to fourth. But given his overall form in 2013 and a past victory in three starts over Del Mar’s main track, he seems worthy of being given another chance.

With Paynter being the one the whole field is trying to beat, Clubhouse Ride looks poised to get the perfect stalking trip sitting a few lengths off the leaders as longshot Batti Man and 3-year-old Chief Havoc keep Paynter honest up front.

Crowd Pleaser

Although the races are not anywhere on par with the Jim Dandy or San Diego in terms of quality, horseplayers also are encouraged to give a look to a couple of deep stakes for Pennsylvania-breds at Parx Racing on Saturday.

Of the two races, the Crowd Pleaser for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles is the more appealing, with my selection, Fessed Up, being 6-1 on the morning line.

A horse with steadily improving speed figures this year, he also has the benefit of being a true runner and a stayer in a race in which many are dirt horses, and in which another contender, Private Tutor, is established more as a grass sprinter.

So unless a first-time turfer jumps up, or Private Tutor shows unexpected stamina, the race is Fessed Up’s to win.

He also can be safely used throughout in the exotics, given his consistency. Since gaining experience in his debut at Delaware last September, he has recorded five straight in-the-money finishes.