In first race since Belmont, `Kid' favored in Jim Dandy

On Horse Racing

August 08, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Jinny Vance and Laddie Dance have been in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., since the first of July, awaiting today.

This is when their Lemon Drop Kid begins the second half of his 3-year-old campaign in what the part-time Maryland residents hope will be a successful bid for a year-end Eclipse Award.

In his first race since winning the Belmont, Lemon Drop Kid competes in the $300,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. He is the 2-1 morning-line favorite over six horses, including Vision and Verse (3-1), Vicar (7-2) and Best of Luck (9-2). Allaire duPont bred and owns Best of Luck.

"We're looking forward to the Jim Dandy, but mainly we're looking forward to the 28th," said Dance, Vance's husband.

The Travers is Aug. 28.

"If he wins the Jim Dandy and wins the Travers, it will be hard to deny him," Dance said about an Eclipse award. "As Scotty says, `One in the fall is worth two in the spring.' "

Scotty Schulhofer trains the colt. Although retired, Charismatic is still the leading 3-year-old after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

Meanwhile, eight 3-year-olds were entered in the $1 million Haskell Invitational Handicap today at Monmouth Park. Menifee is the 9-5 early favorite, followed by Cat Thief at 2-1 and Forestry at 4-1.

Both races will be shown on ESPN2 beginning at 5 p.m.

Trainers not told

Some trainers at Pimlico are peeved that track management didn't inform them that the AFRAM festival would be held this weekend in the Pimlico infield.

Requesting anonymity for fear of management retribution, the trainers said they were concerned about security -- especially after what happened three weeks ago at Laurel Park.

In a field adjacent to the track, an overflow crowd attending a Mexican concert and rodeo became unruly. Fights broke out. Cans and bottles were thrown. About 50 officers from five police agencies were called in, said Charles Ravenell, Anne Arundel County police spokesman.

Two people were arrested. Two were taken to the hospital. And a 24-year-old backstretch worker was killed in a car crash after leaving the event.

Jim Mango, chief operations officer of the Maryland Jockey Club, said that problems began because the bulls arrived 90 minutes late for the rodeo, which was scheduled for 6. Event organizers had leased the property and were in charge of security, Mango said. He said a crowd of 1,500 was expected, but about 7,000 showed up.

Asked about AFRAM, one of the city's major festivals, Mango said the event attracts mostly a family crowd. And this time the Maryland Jockey Club is in charge of security, parking and admissions, he said. Mango even assigned about 10 mutuel clerks to the infield to take bets on simulcast races.

"We're trying to do something good for business and something good for the city," Mango said. "This is an event that brings lots of people to Pimlico. That is something we should work for every day."

As for management's lack of notifying the trainers at Pimlico, the trainers said that that was par for the course.

Colonial Downs update

Colonial Downs' 30-day harness meet concluded Wednesday with a nearly 9 percent increase in daily wagering compared to last year's inaugural harness meeting.

Total betting was $5,797,922 for a daily average of $193,264. Nearly two-thirds of that came from out-of-state bettors, whom the track targeted by operating late afternoon and early evening Monday through Wednesday -- an available niche in the national simulcast market.

Attendance averaged 909, bolstered by two large holiday crowds: 3,411 on Memorial Day, which was opening day, and 9,633 on July 4.

John Mooney, president of the Maryland-Virginia Racing Circuit, said he was pleased with the meet's full fields and competitive racing. And he said he was pleased that attendance and wagering increased weekly, signaling that the track's advertising worked.

Asked how the bottom line compares to last year's $1.6 million loss on harness racing, Mooney said: "We were striving to cut losses from last year. We haven't totaled all the figures yet, but we cut losses considerably."

Mooney and other officials at the track in southern Virginia have already turned their attention to the thoroughbred meet, which starts Labor Day.

Testafly ready for more

Dale Mills says that Testafly came out of his sixth-place finish in last weekend's Whitney Handicap at Saratoga "bucking and playing, ready to get back into training. His coat's good. His eyes are bright. He's super."

A trainer based at Laurel Park, Mills says he might try to find another race for Testafly at Saratoga, believing that the horse will run better with a race over the track. Testafly contested the early pace in the Whitney and then, as he faded to sixth, Victory Gallop edged Behrens in a spectacular stretch battle.

Mills said he was disappointed Testafly didn't hang on for third. But as far as Victory Gallop and Behrens are concerned, the trainer said: "They showed they're in a league by themselves. They don't have to worry about me anymore."

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