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Jul 25, 2014

Tonalist headlines Jim Dandy Stakes


Saratoga Springs, NY ( - Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist tops a field of seven 3-year-olds for Saturday's $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. The 1 1/8-mile stakes is the final local prep for the $1 million Travers on August 23.

Trained by Christophe Clement for Robert Evans, Tonalist will again be ridden by Joel Rosario and break from post 4.

"We have him in the Jim Dandy, but we also want him to make the Travers afterwards, so we're just trying to keep a little bit of room to work after the Jim Dandy," Clement said during a conference call on Tuesday.

The colt won the Belmont Stakes at odds of 9-1 versus 10 other 3-year-olds, including Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome. He came away with a head victory in the final jewel of racing's Triple Crown

"He gives you the feeling he tries very hard to the end," Clement added. "Is it because he tries hard or is it because he's got the will to win. I'm not exactly sure. But, yes, he always seems to be doing his best from the quarter pole to the wire."

With three wins from five career starts, Tonalist has banked $957,000.

Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve, trained by Dallas Stewart, has been entered after originally being slated for Friday's Curlin Stakes at Saratoga. Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, the colt has drawn post 6 with Shaun Bridgmohan set to ride.

"He really likes this track. I thought he liked it a lot as a 2-year-old," Stewart said. "He was training here. He ran here one time, but it was muddy and it just didn't work out good. But he trains very well on it and he worked good."

Commanding Curve is coming off a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes and is still seeking his second career win. Earlier this year he was sixth at Fair Grounds in the Risen Star Stakes and third in the Louisiana Derby. He rallied to get second behind California Chrome in the Run for the Roses as a 37-1 longshot.

The colt has earned $542,434 in eight starts.

Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong will start from the outside post for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, with regular jockey Rajiv Maragh in the saddle.

Owned by Centennial Farms, Wicked Strong posted fourth-place results in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes (dead-heating with California Chrome). The colt will be wearing blinkers for the first time Saturday.

"I really feel he didn't give us his best (fourth in the Belmont)," said Jerkens. "He's run very well, but he needs to run a little better. If (the blinkers) make a little bit of a difference, it's worth a try. I like his reaction to the blinkers. I think they kept him a little straighter, more into the bridle the whole way."

Wicked Strong has two wins from eight starts for $884,610.

Here is the complete field for the Jim Dandy: Cousin Stephen, John Velazquez; Legend, Luis Saez; Ulanbator, Julien Leparoux; Tonalist, Joel Rosario; Kid Cruz, Irad Ortiz Jr.; Commanding Curve, Shaun Bridgmohan and Wicked Strong, Rajiv Maragh.

Post time for the Jim Dandy will be approximately 6:01 p.m. ET.

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