07/28/2010 2:58PM

Friend or Foe to get stamina test in Jim Dandy

Barbara D. Livingston
Friend or Foe trains at Saratoga in preparation for the Jim Dandy, his graded stakes debut.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – John Kimmel knows Friend or Foe has a lot to overcome when he makes his graded stakes debut in Saturday’s Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga.

But in Friend or Foe, Kimmel also knows he has a lot of horse.

Friend or Foe, undefeated in three starts, is one of several intriguing 3-year-olds set to contest the Jim Dandy, the local prep for the $1 million Travers Stakes here Aug. 28. The Jim Dandy is run at 1 1/8 miles.

A field of nine was entered in the Jim Dandy, but Winslow Homer would only run if Sunday’s $75,000 Curlin Stakes fails to fill, trainer Tony Dutrow said Wednesday. Entries for the Curlin were to be taken Thursday.

With the top-two finishers from the Kentucky Derby and Preakness headed for Sunday’s $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, the Jim Dandy drew an eclectic field of 3-year-olds trying to make an impact in the division.

Afleet Express, who won the Grade 3 Pegasus at Monmouth in June, Fly Down, who won the Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont in May and was second in the Belmont Stakes, and A Little Warm, the Louisiana Derby runner-up, will likely vie for favoritism.

Friend or Foe, who won the seven-furlong Mike Lee for New York-breds at Belmont on June 20, will not only be making his graded stakes debut in the Jim Dandy, he also will be making his first start around two turns.

“How can you not be concerned about running two turns for the first time?” Kimmel said. “And you don’t get to run two turns at a mile or a mile and a sixteenth, you got to do it at a mile and an eighth, but that’s the way we have to play this one. I talked to the track guy, and he wasn’t going to change the size of the track or the length of the race.”

Kimmel believes Friend or Foe is a natural two-turn horse. He is a son of Friends Lake, a New York-bred who won the Grade 1 Florida Derby in his second start around two turns.

“The key to getting horses to run long is their ability to relax, and really I think that’s one of the things this horse can do,” said Kimmel, whose horse will break from post 8 under Rajiv Maragh.

Kimmel said he does not want to see Friend or Foe on the lead.

“I think that’s a really tough assignment to be the pursued horse first time going two turns, because now you’re trying to slow your horse down then it becomes one of those situations where everybody’s taking shots at you,” Kimmel said.

The Jim Dandy field, from the rail out, is: Steinbeck (Garrett Gomez), Afleet Express (Javier Castellano), Stormy’s Majesty (Edgar Prado), Aikenite (David Cohen), A Little Warm (John Velazquez), Miner’s Reserve (Calvin Borel), Winslow Homer (Ramon Dominguez), Friend or Foe (Maragh), and Fly Down (Jose Lezcano).

The Jim Dandy goes as the 10th of an 11-race card. The Grade 1 Diana, featuring Forever Together, precedes it.