Updated on 09/15/2011 12:45PM

Surprise! Scorpion wins Dandy

Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Jerry Bailey and Scorpion overtake Free of Love to win the Jim Dandy by a half-length. Congaree, the 2-5 favorite, faltered to finish third.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - After watching Friday's six-furlong Amsterdam Stakes, trainer D. Wayne Lukas thought he made a mistake by scratching Scorpion out of that race to run in Saturday's nine-furlong, Grade 1 Jim Dandy Stakes.

But Lukas, who has made a career out of winning big races when nobody thought he could, did it again Saturday as Scorpion rallied past Free of Love to win the $600,000 Jim Dandy by a half-length before 30,871 at Saratoga. Free of Love, a

29-1 shot who put away 2-5 favorite Congaree in midstretch, held second, 5 3/4 lengths ahead of Congaree.

A P Valentine, Indygo Shiner, and Kid Rigo completed the order of finish. Windsor Castle was scratched after pulling a muscle.

Scorpion, a son of Seattle Slew, was 0 for 8 in stakes before Saturday and had never won beyond seven furlongs. He was coming off a second-level allowance win at six furlongs and would have been one of the contenders in Friday's Amsterdam. But Lukas scratched after Scorpion drew the rail.

Coming off a sprint, Scorpion figured to be part of the early pace. But, when jockey Jerry Bailey saw Richard Migliore intent on making the lead aboard Free of Love, he was content to take back.

Free of Love ran the first quarter in 24.37 seconds and was soon engaged by Congaree, who was second around the clubhouse turn. Leaving the five-furlong pole, Congaree assumed the lead and seemed like he would win for fun. But Free of Love battled back around the turn and took the lead at the quarter pole. Congaree was empty at that point.

"It looked like he was cruising out there and then Gary [Stevens] was out of horse," said Bob Baffert, trainer of Congaree. "Gary thinks he might have bled."

Meanwhile, Bailey kept Scorpion on the inside and saving ground. Turning for home he swung three wide and bore down on Free of Love, catching him in the shadow of the wire. Scorpion covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.90 over a good track and returned $25 to win.

"Stevens took off with Congaree like a bat out of hell about the 4 1/2 [furlong pole] with the leader," Bailey said. "I had to assume they would come back at some point; that's too fast to go in the middle of the race. This is as sweet as it gets."

The win capped an incredible week for William Mack and William Baker, who not only own Scorpion, but were part of the contingent that won the bidding war for New York City OTB.

"This is much better," Baker said. "There's no comparison."

Rick Violette, the trainer of Free of Love, had mixed emotions.

"You're not supposed to be disappointed, but I think if Gary doesn't get so brave on Congaree down the backside we win it," Violette said.

* One day after escaping injury in a scary spill, jockey Aaron Gryder came back to win three races on Saturday's card. All three winners were trained by Mike Hushion, whose Vee Eye Pee bucked Gryder off in Friday's finale.

for the Jim Dandy chart.*

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