Vino Rosso should pour it on late in Jim Dandy

The Grade II, $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes for three-year-olds highlights the Saturday action at Saratoga. A field of five will line up for this key prep toward next month’s Grade I Travers Stakes. Post time for the Jim Dandy, Race 10 on a stakes-rich 11-race card, is 6:18 p.m. EST. In addition to watching and wagering, feel free to play FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#5 VINO ROSSO (even-money, morning-line favorite) stamped himself as a Triple Crown contender with a convincing score in the Wood Memorial three starts ago. The Kentucky Derby did not go well for him, possibly because of the wet track. He was a decent fourth in the Belmont Stakes after that. VINO ROSSO has been on the shelf since then, posting just a couple of moderate works for Todd Pletcher. Assuming he runs back to his Wood Memorial score, VINO ROSSO should be tough to beat, but there’s no guarantee he does. John Velazquez stays aboard the tepid top choice.

#1 FLAMEAWAY (7-2) will likely make the pace of the Jim Dandy as he switches to Jose Ortiz.  He showed some rust in the Ohio Derby last time out as he faded down the lane off a poor Kentucky Derby finish. However, his strong early 2018 campaign should not be discounted. FLAMEAWAY earned competitive speed figures in winning the Sam F. Davis and placing in the Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass Stakes. He could be very dangerous if allowed to get away early.

#4 SPORTING CHANCE (8-1) went 2-for-2 as a juvenile at Saratoga last year but hasn’t won in five starts since. He’s had some excuses in most of those starts but clearly needs to bump up his speed figures to have a shot at winning the Jim Dandy. Returning to Saratoga might help him earn a share of this graded stake. Look for SPORTING CHANCE to return to his pace-pressing tactics as Luis Saez regains the assignment.

The play: $5 exacta 5/1,4 ($10)

DFJ analysis: John Velazquez is on a bunch of live-looking mounts at “The Spa” on Saturday. He rides in nine races overall and has a call in all four stakes on the program. Only one of his assignments is above 8-1 on the morning-line. VINO ROSSO gives Velazquez a big chance in the Jim Dandy, which is the richest race of the day.

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