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Wicked Strong & Tonalist Prepare for Jim Dandy 2014

Wicked Strong & Tonalist Prepare for Jim Dandy 2014: The 51st running of the Jim Dandy takes place one week from today, on Saturday, July 26, 2014 at Saratoga. The $600,000 1 1/8 mile dirt race for three-year-olds draws in star-studded contenders such as the 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist and the fan-favorite Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong.

Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, trained by Christophe Clement for Robert Evans, turned in his final work (see video below) before the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy on July 26, going five furlongs in 1:01.79 in company with stablemate Life In Shambles.

Jim Dandy 2014

Wicked Strong, pictured above wearing blinkers for the first time at Saratoga, prepares for the Jim Dandy with other superstar colts such as Tonalist. The Jim Dandy takes place at Saratoga on Saturday, July 26, 2014.

Tonalist, with exercise rider Alvaro Hernandez up, commenced the work 1 ½ lengths in front of Life in Shambles, who was ridden by Joel Rosario, and was hounded by that one for much of the way before Life In Shambles drew alongside the strapping colt in the latter stages of the work.

“Nice work; I’m happy with it,” said Clement. “Everything went well. [Tonalist] started a touch slow and finished up well. He looked good; I’m excited.

“He’s put on quite a bit of weight since the Belmont,” he added. “I don’t think he’s quite as fit as he was for the Belmont, but that’s OK. He’s not supposed to be quite as fit.”

Christophe Clement reported Life in Shambles would most likely take part in the $100,000 Curlin.

Wearing blinkers for the first time (see video below), Wicked Strong breezed six furlongs in 1:13.09on Saturday at Saratoga. The Grade 1 Wood Memorial winner is slated to start in the Jim Dandy on July 26.

Wicked Strong, with exercise rider Kelvin Pahal up, was clocked galloping out seven furlongs in 1:27.

The Jim Dandy will be Wicked Strong’s first start since dead-heating with California Chrome for fourth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 7. He also was fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

Jerkens said he plans to have Wicked Strong wear blinkers in the Jim Dandy in the hope that the equipment change will help the colt maintain his focus.

“I really feel he didn’t give us his best [in the Belmont],” said Jerkens, who trains Wicked Strong for Centennial Farms. “He’s run very well, but he needs to run a little better. If [the blinkers] make a little bit of a difference, it’s worth a try. I like his reaction to the blinkers. I think they kept him a little straighter, more into the bridle the whole way.”

In the Belmont, Wicked Strong raced in fifth early before being shuffled back to seventh while racing between horses. He came wide into the stretch and made a mild rally, finishing 1 ¾ lengths behind Tonalist.

“I don’t want him to run as spotty as he does,” said Jerkens. “I want him to hold his position down the backside. I don’t understand why he coughed it up. He had a nice position in the Belmont, but then he wound up between horses, which you hate, and all horses hate. I think it shows how much class he has that he was able to come back on and run as well as he did.”

Samraat and Commanding Curve are also under consideration for the 2014 Jim Dandy on Saturday, July 26, 2014.

Tonalist prepares for Jim Dandy 2014:

Wicked Strong with blinkers prepares for Jim Dandy 2014: