04/22/2009 11:00PM

J P Jammer looks set for big effort


NEW YORK - With the preps for the Kentucky Derby behind us and with the Derby still a week away, there is room for a different sort of fare when it comes to Saturday's stakes action. The two richest events on the national schedule, at $300,000 each, are two vehicles for older males, the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile on the turf at Golden Gate and the Grade 3 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park. And it's a big day for California-breds at Hollywood Park, where the stakes-filled California Gold Rush card is topped by the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes.

But while 3-year-olds don't have the spotlight Saturday like they have the last seven or so weeks, they aren't exactly off the radar. The Grade 3 features at Aqueduct - the $150,000 Withers - and Churchill Downs - the $100,000 Derby Trial (something this event really isn't) - attracted 11 Triple Crown nominees between them, so don't be surprised if these races produce a candidate or two for the Preakness.

Snow Chief Stakes

With Pioneerof the Nile guaranteed to have lots of supporters in the Derby, Feisty Suances must be considered the marquee horse in this race, given how respectably he performed against Pioneerof the Nile in his last two starts, combined with the fact that he is now moving back in with California-bred company. Two starts back, Feisty Suances was beaten only a little more than a length by Pioneerof the Nile when second in the Grade 2 San Felipe. Last time out, he fought with that opponent past midstretch before finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

And then there's Triumphant Flight. He's also moving into statebred competition, a level at which he was strong last year, after beating open company in the San Miguel Stakes in his seasonal debut.

Feisty Suances might be much the best in this spot, and if he isn't, then Triumphant Flight might well be his only real competition. That said, I'm eager to try and beat both of them. I have serious doubts that Feisty Suances wants any part of the nine furlongs this race demands, at least at this stage of his career. As for Triumphant Flight, his San Miguel was a demanding effort in his first start in nearly six months. That, coupled with the fact that he had to run fast enough in the San Miguel to better his previous career-best Beyer Speed Figure by 17 large points, suggests that a form regression is possible.

I like J P Jammer, who looks like he's coming up to a big effort. J P Jammer was an unlucky second most recently to the older Unusual Smoke, a horse I think actually has a good chance to win the Khaled Stakes on Saturday at Hollywood in the race before this one. J P Jammer was blocked in the upper stretch and forced to sharply angle out for room, and the performance was his first start this season on a synthetic surface after racing on turf in his first two starts of the year. I take his effort as an indication he prefers synthetic, and he has plenty of room to move forward off of it.

As to whether J P Jammer classes up here, he does. He finished only 1 1/2 lengths behind Triumphant Flight when fourth in the Cal Cup Juvenile last fall and could have easily finished that much in front of him considering how wide he was around both turns after breaking from a tough outside post. After that, J P Jammer finished a game second in the open Real Quiet Stakes to Chocolate Candy, who won two stakes this year before finishing a very good second to Pioneerof the Nile in the Santa Anita Derby.

Miami Mile Handicap

I take no pleasure going against Vanquisher and Mambo Meister. Both are sort of stable pets as both have been featured by the Warrior in the past, and it's easy to make cases for either of them in this spot. But I like Wesley off the ridiculous trip he had last time out in the Mervin Muniz Jr. Handicap.

On paper, Wesley's seventh in the Muniz doesn't look like anything extraordinary. On paper, it looks like he made a move into contention after being way out of it early and failed to sustain it. Well, it is true that Wesley lacked some punch in the late stages of the Muniz, but he had a good reason. After first making a nice move to get into contention down the backstretch, Wesley made another bold move midway on the far turn. Now, beyond making two moves, an attribute I admire, Wesley's move on the far turn came when he was racing at least seven wide and floated some nine wide into the stretch. In other words, he easily lost more ground than the three lengths he was beaten at the wire.

Wesley's outside post Saturday, with a very short run to the first turn, is not the concern it usually would be, because I expect him to quickly drop back, as is his wont, and get over and save some ground. But with blinkers on Saturday, I don't think Wesley will drop as far back early as he has recently, which would give him less to do late and help his chances.

Tiznow Stakes

Star Nicholas and Stella Mark clearly like Hollywood's Cushion Track. Star Nicholas won the On Trust Handicap in his last start on this surface to improve his career record on this footing to 3 wins from 5 starts. Stella Mark won this race in his last start on this surface to make it 2 for 4 in his career on this track. Both also are extremely adept at this 7 1/2-furlong distance. In fact, both the On Trust and last year's edition of the Tiznow were run at this less-than-common distance.

What separates Star Nicholas and Stella Mark, and makes Star Nicholas the play, is that Stella Mark comes into this off an 11-month absence, while Star Nicholas comes in off a two-month freshening. Star Nicholas, who held his form against solid open company even though he lost his two starts since the On Trust, hasn't missed a beat in the mornings lately and hails from a barn that has good numbers with horses returning from similar freshenings.