Stay Thirsty Wins Jim Dandy
STAY THIRSTY PROVES TO BE DANDY
It took him a year to do it, and there were several pitfalls along the way. But Stay Thirsty is finally on the cusp of emerging from his champion stablemate Uncle Mo's shadow after he won yesterday's Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes by four lengths before a crowd of 30,048 at the Old Spa. He ran the 1 miles in a swift 1:48.78 to pay $7 as the second choice in a field of seven.
'I'm just so happy for this horse,' said owner Mike Repole, who purchased Stay Thirsty for $500,000 as a 2-year-old in training. 'You can't read a Stay Thirsty article without Uncle Mo, and you know what, tomorrow, you'll still get it. But he's his own horse now.
'If he wasn't owned by Mike Repole and trained by Todd Pletcher, people would talk about this horse as one of the best 3-year-olds in the country, and today he proved it.'
The victory stamps Stay Thirsty -- whose jockey, Javier Castellano, also won the co-featured Grade 1, $500,000 Diana on Zagora -- as one of the favorites for the Aug. 27 Travers. A win in the 'Midsummer Derby' would give Stay Thirsty a leg up on the wide-open 3-year-old championship.
Stay Thirsty is a son of the great Bernardini, who won the Jim Dandy and Travers en route to the 3-year-old championship in 2006. Like his sire, he has shown a fondness for the Saratoga surface, breaking his maiden here last summer by 5½ lengths, then running second in the Hopeful.
But his subsequent starts proved disappointing. He was a distant fifth behind Repole's pride and joy, Uncle Mo, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Then, after winning the Gotham in his first start this year, Stay Thirsty was up the track in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby before rebounding with a close second in the Belmont Stakes.
'He's overcome all that and has put together two big wins this year and a big race in the Belmont,' said Pletcher, who saddled four winners yesterday. '[The Jim Dandy] was a breakthrough effort.'
In the Jim Dandy, Stay Thirsty was never far back, tracking the pace set by Will's Wildcat under pressure from Dominus. Turning for home, Dominus surged to the front; but then Stay Thirsty pounced, grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch and took command through the final furlong.
'I was where I wanted to be, right behind the front-running horses,' Castellano said. 'Everything set up perfectly.'
Canadian invader Moonshine Mullin, a 37-1 shot ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson, was second, competing a $163 exacta.
Overcoming the seconditis that has plagued her since she arrived in the U.S. last fall, the French filly Zagora circled the field on the far turn under Javier Castellano and rallied to the lead down the stretch to win yesterday's Grade 1, $500,000 Diana Handicap on turf by 1½ lengths.
The 4-year-old daughter of Green Tune, trained by Chad Brown, paid $13.80 after running the 1-mile over the Mellon course in 1:49.19. Aruna, another French import, came on late to complete the $50 exacta.
Racing in her native France at 2 and 3, Zagora won four of eight starts. But in four races on this side of the pond, she was second in last year's Queen Elizabeth Cup, and this year ran second in the Hillsborough, third in the Jenny Wiley and second last out in the New York, beaten just a head.
Unbridled Humor, unbeaten in four starts, was the 9-5 favorite making her first start in a graded stakes, and she set an easy pace (25.20 and 50.31 seconds) pressed by Bay to Bay. At the top of the stretch, Bay to Bay took over, and she dug in when Zagora came to her throatlatch in mid-stretch, but could not match strides late.
* Today's co-features are the Grade 1, $250,000 Ruffian Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 miles, and the Grade 2, $150,000 Fourstardave at 1 1/16 miles over the inner turf course.
Awesome Maria, the Todd Pletcher-trained filly who won four straight stakes in a cakewalk, would have been favored for the Ruffian, but she suffered a condylar fracture training for this event and is out for the year. In her absence, it's a wide-open affair.
Payton d'Oro is the 2-1 morning-line favorite after finishing second to Awesome Maria in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont. But the one to beat is Dynazaper. Trained by Bill Mott, the 4-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper spent most of her career so far racing on turf and synthetics until returning to dirt June 8 at Belmont for the first time since she was 2.
The result was spectacular. After a slight stumble at the start from post 1, Dynazaper cruised to the lead under John Velazquez, galloped along in front through fast fractions under a snug hold, then shook off her pursuers turning for home and ran off the TV screen down the stretch, winning by 9 1/4 lengths in a sharp 1:34 3/5 for a mile.
The Ruffian will be her first stakes appearance of the year, but she did run well in several stakes, including a victory in the Edgewood on turf at Churchill Downs, as a 3-year-old.
In the Fourstardave, Sidney's Candy is the odds-on standout. Now in Todd Pletcher's barn, the 4-year-old Candy Ride colt was formerly trained in California by John Sadler, where he was equally adept on turf and synthetics, winning races like the San Vicente, San Felipe, Santa Anita Derby, La Jolla and Sir Beaufort leading all the way. Sidney's Candy also set the pace to deep stretch in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile on turf.
by Ed Fountaine
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