Is Masqueparade up to Essential Quality in Jim Dandy?

Is Masqueparade up to Essential Quality in Jim Dandy?
Photo: JJ Zamaiko Photography

Following his win in the Ohio Derby (G3) at Thistledown, trainer Al Stall Jr. pointed Masqueparade toward the $600,000, Grade 2 Jim Dandy. On Saturday the Upstart colt will take on a field that includes Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality.

Stall said Masqueparade is doing well going into the race. The colt last worked Friday at the Spa, going four furlongs in 47.59 seconds, good for third best time out of 87 works at the distance.

“He’s fine,” Stall said. “He came out of the Ohio Derby well, shipped up here well, had a couple breezes and he’s galloping fine. He seems like his normal self to me.”

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The colt stalked the pace wide in the June 26 Ohio Derby, before moving up and battling with Promise Keeper down the stretch, holding off King Fury and Keepmeinmind at the wire for the win. Keepmeinmind is among the probables for Saturday’s Jim Dandy.

The race currently has six probables, including Essential Quality, who is likely to go off as the heavy favorite. Stall said the matchup is an opportunity for Masqueparade to prove his mettle.

“It looks like a one-horse race with a legitimate 2-5 shot, 3-5 shot,” Stall said. “We’ll just see how competitive we are with arguably the best 3-year-old in the country. Just trying to see where he stacks up to that type of horse.”

Stall said he was not apprehensive about having Masqueparade face off against the Belmont winner.

“We picked the Jim Dandy after our race and there was some talk of (Essential Quality) going straight to Travers , but no, not really,” Stall said. “Our horse has improved quite a bit lately and we just want to give him a chance to see how much more he can improve.”

Masqueparade’s regular rider Miguel Mena will be in the irons for the Jim Dandy. Entries for the race will be taken Wednesday.

Stall said he had one preference when it came to the Jim Dandy post draw.

“It wouldn’t hurt my feelings to be outside of Essential Quality,” Stall said. “Essential Quality seems a little bit more comfortable out there, and we could keep an eye on him, but with this short field and this big race track, it’s not that big of a deal to me.”

The Jim Dandy is one of three stakes races on Saratoga’s Saturday card, which will also include the Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) and Bowling Green (G2).

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