Updated on 08/08/2010 7:15PM

A Little Warm stamps his Travers ticket by taking Jim Dandy

Barbara D. Livingston
A Little Warm draws clear under John Velazquez to capture the Jim Dandy.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Entering Saturday's $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes, trainer Tony Dutrow was confident that A Little Warm would run as good as he possibly could in the Grade 2 race. He wasn't sure if it would be good enough to win.

It was.

In a virtual carbon copy of a second-level allowance run at Delaware Park on June 29, A Little Warm, under John Velazquez, tracked the pacesetting Miner's Reserve until mid-stretch, then persevered past the rival inside the final furlong to win the Jim Dandy by 1 3/4 lengths at sun-soaked Saratoga. It was three-quarters of a length back to Afleet Express in third.

Friend or Foe finished fourth and was followed in the order of finish by Fly Down, the 9-5 favorite, Steinbeck, Aikenite and Stormy's Majesty. Winslow Homer scratched to run in Sunday's Curlin Stakes here.
The win was the first in a graded stakes for A Little Warm, and earned him a spot in the $1 million Travers Stakes here on Aug. 28.

"If he comes out of the race great, then count us in," said Dutrow, who trains A Little Warm for owner/breeder Ed Evans.

A Little Warm, who finished second in the Louisiana Derby in March, missed the Kentucky Derby due to insufficient earnings. He missed the Preakness after bleeding in a workout six days before the race.

He returned in an allowance race at Delaware Park, beating Miner's Reserve by 2 1/4 lengths with Velazquez up for the first time. As well as A Little Warm ran that day, Dutrow told Velazquez "he'll run even better today."

As expected, Miner's Reserve, under Calvin Borel made the lead and set fractions of 23.32 seconds, 46.80 ad 1:10.82 for six furlongs with A Little Warm tracking in second, 1 1/2 lengths behind.

Velazquez made a move to Miner's Reserve around the far turn, Miner's Reserve spurted away a little bit in upper stretch, but A Little Warm tackled him at the eighth pole. With two cracks of Velazquez's right-handed whip and three with his left, A Little Warm edged clear late.

"I felt strongly that he was going to run a terrific race today," Dutrow said. "I didn't know if that was going to be good enough to win the race, but he did not exceed my expectations today."

A Little Warm covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.98 and returned $10.20 as the third choice.

"The other horse went to lead, I got my horse back a little bit, he settled really, really nice right behind the other horse, he was in a nice rhythm," said Velazquez, who won his fourth stakes race of this meet. "I got to the three-eighths pole, I gave him his head and got a little closer to the leader and when I asked him he was there for me. It was very nice.".

Nick Zito was naturally happy with the effort turned in by Miner's Reserve, but was puzzled why Fly Down, the runner-up in the Belmont Stakes, didn't fire.


"I was expecting a great performance, but I didn't get it," Zito said of Fly Down. "He only got beat a few lengths, but I don't know what to say, I'm a little confused. The last sixteenth of a mile he was in trouble. We'll just regroup and hopefully, we'll come back in the Travers."

Afleet Express, who rated in fifth under Javier Castellano, appeared to be going nowhere around the far turn, but did come on again and was beaten only two lengths.

"My horse was making forward motion and gaining on the leader, so that's always a good sign," trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. "He got a little discouraged getting bottled up down there on the rail, and getting hit with all that dirt. So he kind of spit the bit on him going around the far turn. Then when he got out in the clear he took off again, and I was really happy to see him come on again because it looked like turning for home he was in big trouble"