Getting past Tonalist & Wicked Strong in the Jim Dandy

Tonalist looks really tough in the Jim Dandy. He’s been training great, and, of course, he’s the Belmont winner.  By advanced metrics, his Belmont was quite fantastic and, when all is said and done, he could be the best horse of his generation. The Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong is also quite fast and accomplished. He’s trained by the sizzling Jimmy Jerkins, who won the Curlin Stakes yesterday with V-E Day and is having a very good year.

That said, there’s always a chance that horses don’t perform up to expectations, and it’s typically often greater than you think. Perhaps Tonalist will turn out to be a fast horse that just loves Belmont. Wicked Strong could just be a plodder who likes to gets up for second or third, unless the pace is unreal.  We don’t know the answer to these questions yet.

If it happens and the two favorites lose, the payoffs, especially in multi-race exotics like the Pick 4, will be great. Part of finding longshots is looking for “upside,” or figuring out what would need to happen for a certain horse to win. This type of thinking can often help you to get past horses that seem like “sure things.” These horses still would likely need some improvement and/or misfires by the top two, so price accordingly.

Legend (#2, 12-1):  Solid, who has grown up nicely in last two starts. Seems likely to get involved early.

Upset scenario: He could get a very nice pace — especially for 9f — as the likely pacesetter. And he’s a son of Tiznow.

Headline: “Legend stole it!”

Ulanbator (#3, 15-1): He’s been a bit of a “wise guy” horse, but hasn’t had quite enough in the stretch.

Upset scenario: Added distance leads to an easier pace and more left for the stretch. Unlikely given sire, but Ian Wilkes knows what is doing. How much do you trust him?

Headline: “Ulanbator loved the distance!”

Kid Cruz (#5, 8-1): He’s quite well-accomplished with five lifetime wins, including two GIII’s. Seems better at 8.5f.

Upset scenario:  He’s simply a much improved horse since the Preakness, and half furlong doesn’t make a difference as he matured. He doesn’t need the improvement that some of the others do.

Headline: “Kid Cruz just loves to win!”

Commanding Curve (#7, 5-1): He’s best known so far for his second in the Kentucky Derby. He reportedly wasn’t training great for the Belmont.

Upset scenario: He’s rested after the grueling Triple Crown Trail, and he matches or improves upon his Derby performance.

Headline: “Rested Commanding Curve recaptures Derby form!”

Image: “Jim Dandy.” Copyright 2011.