Belmont Stakes Winner Tonalist Looks Dandy at Saratoga

Michael Dempsey@turfnsportFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2014

ELMONT, NY - JUNE 07:  Tonalist #11 (L), ridden by Joel Rosario, races to the finish line enroute to winning the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 7, 2014 in Elmont, New York.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

While Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome is on break, Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist will be in action at Saratoga on Saturday, installed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite for the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy. 

The Christophe Clement trainee will face a field of six foes in Saratoga Springs, New York, which serves as a prep for the marquee event of the summer meeting at Saratoga, the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 23.

Tonalist looked like he was going to be a major player in the Run for the Roses earlier this year after a good second-place finish to eventual Florida Derby (G1) winner Constitution, but a lung infection knocked the colt out of the Wood Memorial in April, not giving him enough time to make it to the Kentucky Derby.

Clement regrouped, and the colt came back off a two-and-a-half month break by winning the Peter Pan Stakes (G2) by four lengths over Commissioner, a foe he would run down in the Belmont Stakes four weeks later to pull off the mild upset at betting odds of 9-1. That win derailed the Triple Crown bid of California Chrome, who finished in a dead heat for fourth.

"He's doing well. He came out of his work in good shape and I'm very excited to have Mr. [Joel] Rosario ride him on Saturday," Clement told Phil Janack of NYRA. "Everything's good. I just have to train him and keep him fit and sound. Life is good."

The colt will face two foes he defeated in the third jewel of the Triple Crown—Wicked Strong, who was fourth, and Commanding Curve, who was a disappointing ninth after running second in the Kentucky Derby.

Wicked Strong is the 2-1 second choice on the morning line. Trained by James Jerkens, the colt won the Wood Memorial for his first Grade 1 victory. The colt had a tough trip as the second betting choice in the Kentucky Derby, checking in fourth.

Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong is a contender in the Jim Dandy.
Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong is a contender in the Jim Dandy.David Alcosser/Associated Press

The colt then made a good late rally to finish fourth in the Belmont Stakes, beaten by 1 3/4 lengths by Tonalist.

Commanding Curve made a good late run at 37-1 to finish in the runner-up spot in the Kentucky Derby, but after skipping the Preakness, the colt did not fire his best in the Belmont Stakes, fading to finish a well-beaten ninth. The Dallas Stewart trainee is a 5-1 third choice on the morning line.

Kid Cruz may be the value of the race if he goes off near his 8-1 morning line. The colt is coming off a victory in the Dwyer (G3) at Belmont Park on July 5. The colt has won four of his last five starts, the lone loss an eighth-place finish in the Preakness.

Selections: Tonalist, Kid Cruz, Wicked Strong


Captain Serious Headliner in Amsterdam

Dwyer runner-up Captain Serious appears the one to beat in Saturday’s co-feature at Saratoga, the $200,000 Amsterdam (G2), and a race that could produce several starters for this fall’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

The colt set the early fractions and could not hold off Kid Cruz in deep stretch, settling for the runner-up spot. The Michael Hushion-trained gelding is 4-1 on the morning line.

The morning-line favorite is Rock Fall at 9-5, a Todd Pletcher trainee who is making his stakes debut after an impressive victory against first-level allowance company in his last start at Belmont Park.

The other main contender is Coup de Grace (3-1) a winner of four of his six career starts. The colt won the Oh Say Stakes at Delaware Park in his last outing on July 5. Trained by Larry Jones, the colt will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik.

Selections: Captain Serious, Rock Fall, Coup de Grace


Morning-line odds courtesy of NYRA.

Follow Michael Dempsey on Twitter @turfnsport