SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> It doesn’t shape up to be the most compelling Jim Dandy ever, when the $600,000 Grade 2 attracts only five starters. The field includes two maiden winners and another horse who has yet to run on dirt. What saves the race is that the other two starters just happen to be classic winners, Always Dreaming (Kentucky Derby) and Cloud Computing (Preakness).
Small fields are not uncommon for the Jim Dandy. Two years ago the race drew only four starters, and the average since 2000 is only 6.5. This is the first time in at least a quarter-century — and perhaps in the race’s 54-year history — that the field has included two classic winners.
At even-money and 6-5, respectively, Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing are of course the overwhelming morning-line favorites. Neither horse has raced since the Preakness, a race in which Always Dreaming finished eighth as the 6-5 favorite. Both have been working well since at Belmont and Saratoga.
On paper, Always Dreaming looks to have an edge. Toss the Preakness result, and the son of Bodemeister is less than two lengths short of being unbeaten in six career starts. The Derby was his fourth straight win, races he won by more than 23 combined lengths. He is also 2-for-2 at the Jim Dandy’s nine furlongs.
Cloud Computing was a maiden winner when he won the Preakness at 13-1, out-gaming Classic Empire by a head in an exciting finish. In his one try at a mile and an eighth, he was beaten seven lengths in the Wood Memorial. The Jim Dandy is only his fifth start, so it may…
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