07/25/2012 2:14PM

Saratoga: Gemologist's defection leaves eight for Jim Dandy Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Alpha will be among the favorites as part of a field of eight in Saturday's Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The complexion of this weekend’s major stakes for 3-year-olds changed Wednesday when the connections of Wood Memorial winner Gemologist decided to run in Sunday’s Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park as opposed to Saturday’s Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga.

The Haskell and Jim Dandy are stepping-stones to the $1 million Travers run Aug. 25 at Saratoga.

Gemologist, who likely would have been favored in the Jim Dandy, will now likely be the second choice behind Belmont Stakes runner-up Paynter in the Haskell.

“Paynter’s a nice horse, we think we got a pretty good one, too,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains Gemologist for WinStar Farm.

Pletcher and WinStar teamed to win the Haskell in 2006 with Bluegrass Cat and 2007 with Any Given Saturday.

“The Jim Dandy is a very, very nice race, but the Haskell is one of the top races for 3-year-olds,” said Elliott Walden, president of WinStar Farm. “It’s still a marquee race for the summer. He deserves a chance.”

The decision to run Gemologist in the Haskell left an eight-horse field for Saturday’s Jim Dandy, with Dwyer Stakes winner Teeth of the Dog, Matt Winn winner Neck ’n Neck, and Count Fleet and Withers Stakes winner Alpha likely vying for favoritism. NYRA linemaker Eric Donovan installed Alpha as the 5-2 morning-line choice.

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Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Alpha who was beaten a neck by Gemologist in the Wood, was not sorry to hear that Gemologist will take his talents to the Jersey Shore.

“I hope he wins the Haskell, we’ll stay here for the Jim Dandy; good luck to Todd,” McLaughlin said.

Alpha finished a neck behind Gemologist in the Wood Memorial before finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby. A temperature knocked him out of the Belmont Stakes, and he has been training super over Saratoga’s main track, where he won his debut last September by six lengths.

Alpha will break from the rail under Ramon Dominguez, who was aboard for his wins in the Count Fleet and Withers.

Teeth of the Dog, trained by Michael Matz, is coming off wins at Belmont Park in the Easy Goer and Grade 2 Dwyer, both over Fast Falcon, who also is in the Jim Dandy. Those wins came after a fifth-place finish in the Preakness Stakes on May 19.

“I think you certainly got to be happy with him running three races in six weeks and winning two of the three,” said Matz, who along with owner Jose Singer chose the Jim Dandy over the West Virginia Derby.

Joel Rosario will ride Teeth of the Dog from post 6.

Neck ’n Neck, a son of 2005 Jim Dandy and Travers winner Flower Alley, has won two straight, including the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes by 7 1/4 lengths. Leandro Goncalves, who has never before ridden at Saratoga, rides Neck ’n Neck from post 4.

Atigun, the third-place finisher behind Union Rags and Paynter in the Belmont, is another who will deserve consideration in the Jim Dandy. He will break from post 3 under Julien Leparoux.

Completing the Jim Dandy field are Liaison, a Grade 1-winning 2-year-old who finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby; Prospective, winner of the Ohio Derby; and My Adonis, who won the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth last out after finishing eighth in the Belmont Stakes.

The Jim Dandy will go as race 10 on an 11-race card that also includes the Grade 1 Diana Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf.

unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
looks very difficult to make money with with 6-7 fairly evenly matched horses. bet to win ? exactas ? what ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought Atigun was going to win the Belmont every step of the way, until he hit the distance and/or class wall. I am not going to hold my own expectations of the colt against him, the fact is he ran like a live horse. He's come into himself i a way the breeding suggested he might. I will back him here at another fair price, no doubt. The door is open in this division for an up and comer who will relish a mile and a quarter. Atigun has the look of one. Watch his Belmont effort and tell me what you think.
John More than 1 year ago
Been waiting for this guy in this race. I hope that was the distance wall, this seems perfect. That was a visually impressive move he made in the Belmont. Price should be square.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
I would say until Leparoux decided to swing 4 wide. If he had waited another second, the lane would open up right in front of him, and Atigun probably would have won or finished second.
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Romans made a mistake, should of took dull back to grass . like said after belmont but just a bunch of junk, ran tc races , picking up some good $....aint a nice one in lot
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Neck 'n Neck has paired up two triple digit BSF. Blinkers added 4 races ago improved his focus in the early part of a race, but the real revelation is the jockey. This horse simply gets along with Leandro Goncalves. All 3 wins of Neck 'n Neck's 10-race career has come with Goncalves at the helm, including the last 2 dominating performances in a G3 and a first-level allowance against older horses. Neck 'n Neck is the only 3yo in this field that has raced against older horses, and he crushed them. Yet he could go off as low as the 4th choice. Great bet!!
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
Early odds for JD: Alpha, 5-2, Fast Falcon, 10-1, Atigun, 8-1, Neck 'n Neck, 3-1, My Adonis, 20-1, Dental Dog, 5-1, Liaison, 7-2, Prospective, 12-1. hard to bet? easy? surprises ?
Joe Tartaglia More than 1 year ago
I think it's a great betting race, especially if you don't think much of Alpha, like me. Prospective will be my key horse. Will like the deep track an be up close to the pace. 12-1 would be perfect.
Chris Vignoe More than 1 year ago
My play against will be Liaision. Can't wait to play against him. Another overrated Baffert runner.
Lucifer More than 1 year ago
You will get a decent price on the winner. Attigun ran a biggie in the Belmont with the Frenchman.
Dave More than 1 year ago
Same connections of Any Given Saturday, and same setup for the Haskell as well. Long layoff after the Derby.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
A salute to Bob Kulina and company for rubbin' on this Race to get it back into Grade 1 shape. A safe trip to all.