A Little Warm set himself up for a run at the division
leaders Saturday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course, wearing down Miner’s
Reserve in the stretch and going on to post a 1 ¾-length victory in the 47th
running of the Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy for 3-year-olds.
Ridden by John Velazquez, the Stormin Fever colt tracked
Miner’s Reserve through fractions of 23.32, 46.80 and 1:10.82, moving up to
collar the pacesetter at the head of the stretch and gaining the lead with 200
yards to go. Edging away in the final strides, A Little Warm hit the wire in
1:47.98 for the 1 1/8th mile race, the traditional prep for the
Grade 1, $1 million Travers Stakes on Saturday, August 28.
Since 1964, eight Jim Dandy winners have gone on to win the Travers, most recently Flower Alley
(2005), Bernardini (2006) and Street Sense (2007).
“If he comes out of this race great, count us in [the
Travers],” said Tony Dutrow, who trains A Little Warm for Edward P. Evans. “I
felt strongly he was going to run a terrific race, but I didn’t know if he was
going to be good enough to win.”
Velazquez, aboard for the second time, liked what he got
from the bay colt and thought he would handle the 1 ¼ mile “Midsummer Derby”
with no problem.
“You can place him wherever you want and let the speed go,”
said Velazquez. “When you ask him, he’s there for you. That’s what I like about
him. I don’t think he’ll have a problem with the [1 ¼ miles] if he rates like
he did today.”
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, who saddled both the
second-place finisher and the beaten favorite, Fly Down, who was fifth, had
mixed emotions after the race.
“Fly Down just didn’t fire,” said Zito of the Belmont Stakes
runner-up. “Hopefully he comes back well and we’ll try to regroup for the next
race. I’m happy for Miner’s Reserve and sad for Fly Down. We’ll just regroup
and hopefully come back in the Travers.”
Afleet Express, the second choice in the field of eight, was
three-quarters of a length back in third, followed by Friend Or Foe, favored
Fly Down, Steinbeck, Aikenite, and Stormy’s Majesty. Winslow Homer was
scratched in favor of running in Sunday’s Curlin Stakes at the Spa.
Jimmy Jerkens, trainer of Afleet Express, was pleased with
the effort put forth by the son of Afleet Alex in his second start around two
“He was making forward motion and gaining on the leader, so
that’s always a good sign,” said Jerkens. “He got a little discouraged getting
bottled up on the rail, and getting hit with all that dirt. When he got out in
the clear he took off again, and I was really happy to see him come on again
because it looked like turning for home he was in big trouble.”
A Little Warm earned $300,000 for the victory, his second
straight, and returned $10.20 for a $2 win bet as the 4-1 third choice.
Overall, A Little Warm is now 4-4-0 from 10 starts, including a victory in the
Spectacular Bid at Gulfstream
Park in January and
second-place finishes in both the Grade 2 Hutcheson on February and Grade 2
Louisiana Derby on March 27.
Returning from a three-month layoff in an allowance at Delaware Park on June 29, A Little Warm turned in
a preview of his Jim Dandy effort as he came from just off the pace to beat
“He ran the way we wanted him to at Delaware, and my feeling was that he was not
100 percent for that race,” said Dutrow. “When we came up to Saratoga shortly after that race, he really
went over the moon. He loved the racetrack.”