SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – With California Chrome relaxing on the West Coast, Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist will take over as the three-year-old to beat at the Spa on Saturday.
Tonalist will have competition in the Grade Two Jim Dandy in his biggest threat Wicked Strong.
“It’s exciting,” Wicked Strong’s trainer Jimmy Jenkens said. “It’s a little nerve wracking, too.”
Jerkens hopes for a three-year-old that can legitimately contend at Saratoga.
“He’s pretty ornery around the barn, but when he gets to the track, he’s all business,” he said. “He wants to train, and he’s been training very well.”
After winning the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, Wicked Strong finished fourth both in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.
“The last two races sometimes he seems to get distracted or runs spotty at times, doesn’t hold his position where I know he can,” Jenkens said. “I know he has the talent to run.”
Jenkens will race the colt with blinkers for the first time in the Grade Two Jim Dandy.
“I don’t know if the blinkers will do the trick, but I think it’s worth a try,” he said.
Whether or not they work, Wicked Strong will surely continue to be a fan favorite.
“That’s what’s nerve wracking,” Jenkens said. “I mean, there was an unbelievable amount of hype in the Derby and the Belmont with this horse. I mean, more so than I thought.”