It’s the final weekend in July, and it’s set to be a big one. The graded stakes action begins Saturday and continues into Sunday. Saturday’s spotlight will be on Saratoga with three graded stakes leading up to the Grade 2 Jim Dandy.
With so much going on this weekend, the Weekend Watch will be split into two parts. Read on for Saturday’s highlights — post times are all in Eastern Standard — and look for another preview on Sunday's races.
Half-sister to American Pharoah debuts at Del Mar
Chasing Yesterday, a 2-year old Tapit half-sister to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, will make her much-anticipated debut Saturday in Del Mar’s opener. The 5 ½-furlong race drew a field of seven maiden fillies with just the longest shot in the field having ever raced. Chasing Yesterday drew the far outside post and was installed as the 6-5 morning line favorite. The filly is in the barn of Bob Baffert, who also managed American Pharoah’s career, and will be piloted by Mike Smith. She’s been working well for Baffert in the mornings and should debut well. Post time is 5 p.m.
Roy H one to beat in Bing Crosby
Reigning champion male sprinter Roy H is back in action after getting some time off following a close third-place finish in the Golden Shaheen (G1) in Dubai back in March. The 6-year old gelding will face 10 in the six-furlong Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes including San Carlos (G2) winner American Anthem and last year’s Bing Crosby winner Ransom the Moon, who has gone winless since emerging the victor in last year’s wild edition of the race. Breeders’ Cup Sprint fourth place finisher American Pastime will make his seasonal debut in this spot. Post time is 9 p.m., and the winner will receive a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Three stakes lead up to Saratoga's Jim Dandy
Trainer Chad Brown’s Engage is the one to beat in the Grade 3 Amsterdam Stakes, a 6 ½-furlong event for 3-year olds, off a second place finish in the Woody Stephens (G2) last out. The 3-year old colt debuted at Saratoga last summer, ultimately notching a second in his debut and a win in his second outing at the historic track. Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Promises Fulfilled will be looking for a win following a third in the Woody Stephens, his best finish since winning the Fountain of Youth. World of Trouble and Strike Power both have a very good shot here, as well.
Imperial Hint heads the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap. The 5-year old son of Imperialism was the determined winner of the True North (G2) in his last start. New face Switzerland is riding a four-race win streak, including a victory in the Maryland Sprint (G3) last out. Iowa Sprint winner Done Deal makes his graded debut and also enters on a four race win streak. At 8-1 on the morning line, the 5-year old gelding could offer some value.
Not surprisingly, Brown has the favorite in Money Multiplier in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes. What is surprising, however, is that Brown is sending out just the one starter when he normally has two or three in graded turf races. Manhattan (G1) runner-up Sadler’s Joy and third place finisher Hi Happy and United Nations (G1) third place finisher Bigger Picture all are strong choices. A superfecta with those four is likely though it probably won’t pay well.
Only five will contest the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, continuing the trend of small fields that has plagued the race in recent years. Wood Memorial (G2) winner Vino Rosso is the even money favorite with Tenfold the 8-5 second choice. Flameaway will likely set the pace from his rail post. Reride and Sporting Chance complete the field.
G3 Amsterdam 4:25 p.m.
G1 Vanderbilt 5:02 p.m.
G2 Bowling Green 5:40 p.m.
G2 Jim Dandy 6:18 p.m.