The Spa Spot: Baffert to run Liaison in the Jim Dandy
With Bodemeister temporarily on the sidelines and Paynter replacing him in Sunday's Haskell Invitational, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is sending another of his 3-year-old stakes horses - Liaison - to Saratoga to run in the Jim Dandy on Saturday.
Bodemeister, the runner-up to I'll Have Another in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, spiked a fever last week that caused him to miss the Haskell. Paynter was the runner-up to Union Rags in the Belmont Stakes.
Liaison won the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity in December, but is winless in six graded stakes this year, among them a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. The Indian Charlie colt has run well in his last two starts at Hollywood Park, a second in the Affirmed and a third in the Swaps. He had a strong six-furlong work in 1:12.40 in at Del Mar Monday morning.
Baffert announced that the colt would be shipped to Saratoga on Tuesday and entered in the $600,000 Jim Dandy, the local prep for the the Travers on August 25.
“Liaison worked really well today, and we thought he earned his trip today to the Jim Dandy,” Baffert said. “Martin Garcia worked him and said he really felt great.”
Garcia is scheduled to ride Liaison in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy.
Seven or eight horses are expected to be entered on Wednesday for the Jim Dandy. The group of candidates consists of Alpha, Antigun, Fast Falcon, Neck 'n Neck, Prospective, Teeth of the Dog and Gemologist.
Baffert is also sending Gun Boat to Saratoga for the Grade 2 Amsterdam on Sunday.
Neck ‘n Neck, trained by Ian Wilkes, is making his first start since winning the Grade 3 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs in June. The colt had an eventful breeze Monday morning on the main track, with two horses breaking from the gate and coming up behind him as he left the pole and another horse serving as an unintentional target as he came down the stretch.
Under jockey Julien Leparoux, Neck ‘n Neck completed the five furlongs in 59.76 seconds, fourth-fastest of 39 works at the distance.
“He did it nice and easy,” said Wilkes, who trains Neck ‘n Neck for A. Stevens Miles, Jr. “It was a good education.”