07/25/2013 3:22PM

Saratoga: Mylute tries to upend Palace Malice in Jim Dandy

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mylute takes a breather at Saratoga on Thursday morning. A quick Jim Dandy pace would help set up his late run.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Going into the Belmont Stakes, Palace Malice was the hard-luck horse, winless in five starts as a 3-year-old, encountering trouble and bad luck at almost every turn.

Everything finally clicked in the Belmont as Palace Malice came home a decisive 3 1/4-length winner for Dogwood Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher.

When Palace Malice attempts to build on his Belmont success in Saturday’s Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga, his chief rival figures to be Mylute, who has endured his share of trouble and bad luck while going winless in four starts this year.

Mylute is the second choice at 7-2 behind Palace Malice (5-2) on NYRA oddsmaker Eric Donovan’s morning line for the Jim Dandy, the local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Travers here Aug. 24. The Jim Dandy, which shares billing on an 11-race card with the Grade 1 Diana for females on turf and the Grade 1 Prioress for 3-year-old filly sprinters on dirt, drew a field of 10, but Vyjack was cross-entered in Sunday’s $1 million Haskell and could run there.

Mylute, trained by Tom Amoss for GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm, has already faced Palace Malice three times, finishing behind him in the Risen Star in February and in front of him in the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby.

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Mylute finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby. He had a very wide trip, yet still finished with interest. Mylute comes off a third-place finish in the Preakness, but was one of the few horses to make up significant ground against the loose-on-the-lead winner Oxbow.

“I think the Preakness was the best race Mylute has run in his career,” Amoss said. “There was zero pace to run at, still he was one of the only horses to make a strong run against a very slow pace. It was a breakthrough race. When we come into this race on Saturday, I’d like to think it’s going to be Mylute’s turn.”

Mylute, who will be ridden from post 8 by Rosie Napravnik, would benefit from a contested pace in the Jim Dandy. With Dwyer winner Moreno and Peter Pan winner Freedom Child in the field, there should be a strong early pace.

Palace Malice sat just off a hot early pace in the Belmont Stakes before joining the fray leaving the half-mile pole and taking control just outside the quarter pole.

“We’ll leave the early positioning up to Mike” Smith, Pletcher said. “The main thing with him is to get into a comfortable rhythm and let him gallop along. The one thing about it is he’s capable of doing it at a pretty high cruising speed. I don’t think he’ll let anybody get away with any slow fractions, hopefully, at the same time, he gets a nice smooth trip.”

Moreno, a son of Ghostzapper, comes off two dominant front-running wins at Belmont, including a seven-length score in the Grade 2 Dwyer. Both those wins have come since trainer Eric Guillot added blinkers and both were in one-turn races.

“Just because I punched on him on the lead the last couple of times doesn’t mean he has to have the lead,” Guillot said. “The reins were dangling, it’s not like he’s a run-off. The horse can do whatever he needs to do.

“He is getting better and he’s figured it all out.”

Moreno has Irad Ortiz Jr. to ride from post 4.

After winning the Peter Pan by 13  1/4 lengths in front-running fashion in the slop in May, Freedom Child got cooked in a speed duel in the Belmont Stakes, finishing 13th of 14. Freedom Child is now drawn outside of Moreno, which could portend for a better trip.

“We’re not going a mile and a half this time,” Tom Albertrani, trainer of Freedom Child, said. “Hopefully, [Luis] Saez will be able to place him where he’s not going to be in that situation.”

While Dallas Stewart sends Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul to Sunday’s $1 million Haskell Invitational, he will be represented by Perfect Title in the Jim Dandy. Perfect Title is a grandson of the undefeated champion mare Personal Ensign and is coming off a last-to-first allowance win at Churchill on June 7.

“He was Golden Soul’s workmate and before he couldn’t keep up, but now he’s worked head and head with him,” said Stewart, who has Shaun Bridgmohan to ride. “I want to give him a shot in a big race because I think a lot of him. I know he’s going to be a longshot, but that doesn’t bother me at all.”

Code West, a winner of the Grade  3 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs for Bob Baffert, Looking Cool and Bashaar, the one-three finishers in the Iowa Derby, and Will Take Charge, winner of the Grade 2 Rebel before three lackluster performances in the Triple Crown series, complete the field.

The Jim Dandy and Diana will be shown live on NBC Sports Network during a one-hour broadcast beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern.