The last time most of the top three-year-olds were on the track together we witnessed 13-1 longshot Palace Malice capture his first stakes by pulling off the upset in the Belmont. That left the three-year-old picture in a disarray heading into the Summer with a different winner in each of the three Triple Crown races.
After an almost much needed two-month hiatus from the grueling Triple Crown trail, most of them return to the track in this weekend's Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga and Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park. The winners will look to emerge and be at the top of this unpredictable division heading into the Midsummer Classic known as the Travers Stakes at the Spa next month on August 24.
The Jim Dandy runs on Saturday with a field of 10 entered which features four that have already run against each other in the Kentucky Derby. The son of Curlin, Palace Malice looks to pick up where he left off last time out after finally finding his form in the Belmont and will be the one to beat.
The Haskell is slated for Sunday with Verrazano heading a field of seven. After finishing a disappointing 14th in the Kentucky Derby he came back to capture the Pegasus Stakes (G3) by 9 1/4 lengths over this track last month. Preakness winner Oxbow is the second choice and looms dangerous at the 1 1/8 mile distance.
The Kentucky Derby winner, Orb has opted to skip the premier preps and is poised to return for the Travers. This means that the three-year-old picture will not come into focus until after the Summer starts to wind down as we truly will not know who is the head of the class until they all square off against each other on the same track. After this weekend we should have a better idea of the top five unless another up and coming three-year-old steals the spotlight.
The two-year-olds are also underway as they try to make an early name for themselves. Wired Bryan took the Sanford Stakes (G2) by 5 1/4 lengths and will be the likely favorite for the Saratoga Special (G2) next month. Keep an eye on these up an comers as many are just starting to break their maidens.
Jim Dandy Stakes(G1)
7/27 Saratoga @ 5:45 EST
5 Palace Malice 5-2
Belmont winner had no chance in the Derby with first time blinkers. Finally found his form last time out and might not have shown his best yet as he continues to grow. If he wins (like he should) or comes in the money Saturday it sets up for a dynamic showdown with Orb and the Haskell victor in the Travers next month.
8 Mylute 7-2
Still looking for his first stakes win but finds a way to be there close at the end. Posted three triple BRIS Speed ratings in a row and should be refreshed after some time off following his runner-up in the Preakness.
4 Moreno 10-1
Took him 10 tries before breaking his maiden but ran away with the Dwyer (G2) by seven lengths when stepping up in class earlier this month. This field is far superior to anyone he has run against, so he will have to run the race of his career to pull off the upset but certainly shouldn't be written off your exotic tickets as this could be one of those late blooming three-year-olds.
2 Code West 6-1
Missed out by a nose in the Risen Star (G2) but came back to finish sixth in the Louisiana Derby (G1) in his only try at the distance, which took himself out of the Derby picture. Winner of the Matt Wynn (G3) last month can't be counted out but 1 1/8 miles may be too much for him to tackle.
$50 Jim Dandy Bank
$26 W: 5 = $26
$1 TRI BX: 5,8,4,2 = $24
7/28 Monmouth Park @ 6:18 EST
5 Oxbow 2-1
Continues to get no love by the bettors and oddsmakers after being made the second choice on the morning line. Won the Preakness going off at 15-1 odds and finished second in the Belmont at 10-1 odds. This guy has one speed but when he gets going he is dangerous and the 1 1/8 mile distance is right in his wheelhouse. Look for him to dictate the pace and roll home to victory.
7 Verrazano 9-5
Only one blemish on his resume is the Kentucky Derby and you can make all kinds of excuses for him in that race. His dominate performance last time out showed that his 6-5-0-0 record is no fluke and will try to pass Oxbow in the stretch on Sunday.
3 Golden Soul 8-1
Runner-up in the Derby was never a threat in the Belmont but don't discount him. Difficult to see him winning the race but will be coming late to try and fill out some exotics.
$50 Haskell Bank
$18 W: 5 = $18
$10 EX BX: 5,7 = $20
$2 TRI BX: 5,7,3 = $12
*Did a bankroll for the first time in the Belmont and if you played the $60 Tri ticket you got $465.50 at the window. Tabbed Revolutionary for the win but he faded to fifth in the stretch and is now taking a break until next year.