SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Stanley Hough is pretty honest when it comes to his assessment of Global Campaign entering Saturday’s Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga.
“I know he’s a very talented horse but he’s a big kid and I don’t know what the hell he’s going to do,” Hough said Thursday morning.
Global Campaign has been talented enough to win three of his first four starts, including the Grade 3 Peter Pan where he defeated subsequent Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston.
He’s also been plagued by foot problems, some made by his own doing. In the Peter Pan, he burned his frog – the bottom part of the foot that acts like a shock absorber. On that same foot, he has twice battled quarter cracks. Global Campaign missed training time and ultimately the Ohio Derby last month.
Saturday in the Jim Dandy, Global Campaign takes on Preakness winner War of Will and two-time graded stakes winner Tacitus among others. On one hand, Hough believes having a fresh horse to compete against those two is an advantage. On the other, he wonders if his horse has enough foundation to beat those two on Saturday.
“I think it would be [an advantage] if he didn’t miss anything and you were able to do what you wanted to do,” Hough said. “I think it is an advantage for a fresh horse historically. He ran a great race in the Peter Pan.”
In the Peter Pan, Global Campaign staked the speed of longshot Federal Case before taking over after six furlongs were run in 1:10.16. Global Campaign went on to win the Peter Pan by 1 1/4 lengths, running 1 1/8 miles in a sharp 1:46.71 and earning a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. He is the only horse in the field to have earned a triple-digit Beyer.
Saturday, under Luis Saez, Global Campaign figures to either be on the lead or stalking Tax, who pressed the pace and finished fourth in the Belmont and who is drawn inside of Global Campaign.
Trainer Danny Gargan said Tax will break running under Irad Ortiz Jr.
“He’s doing better than he was going into the Belmont,” Gargan said.
War of Will was the only horse to run in all three Triple Crown races. He experienced trouble in the Kentucky Derby when Maximum Security came out a few paths entering the far turn. War of Will finished eighth, but was moved up to seventh after Maximum Security was disqualified from first to 17th. In the Preakness, War of Will had a perfect trip along the inside to win by 1 1/4 lengths. In the Belmont, War of Will was a nonfactor, finishing ninth of 10 under Tyler Gaffalione with trainer Mark Casse believing he didn’t handle the track.
“Normally, he’s tugging on Tyler, wanting to go,” said Casse.“Tyler was having to let him run along down the backside just to be close. When he’s on his game, he pretty well shows you he’s on his game.”
Casse and Gaffalione have liked the way War of Will has trained at Saratoga.
“He’s just so full of energy and he really wants to do it right now,” Gaffalione said after War of Will’s last work. “He’s so confident in himself – the way he’s getting over the ground, especially over this track. I’m really looking forward to the race.”
Bill Mott is a four-time Jim Dandy winner, his first coming in 1990 with Chief Honcho and his most recent coming in 2017 with Good Samaritan. Tacitus ran a respectable fourth in the Kentucky Derby – he was placed third – and was sent off the 9-5 favorite in the Belmont Stakes. Under Jose Ortiz, Tacitus was wide on both turns and down the backstretch and was beaten just a length by Sir Winston.
“He didn’t get a ground-saving trip at all and the winner did get a ground-saving trip. I think that could have made the difference,” Mott said. “Take nothing away from the winner. Our horse did run a good race, he just ran a little farther than everybody else did.”
Mott believes Tacitus came out of his two classic races in good shape, evidenced by how he’s training coming into the Jim Dandy.
“He’s moving well, his breezes have been consistent, so I think he’s fit and feeling good, and as of today he’s ready to go,” Mott said.
Mihos won the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream in January before he finished fifth in the Holy Bull Stakes. He emerged from that race needing time. Off a four-month layoff, Mihos finished fourth in the Grade 3 Dwyer. On Thursday, he blew out three furlongs in 36.82 seconds over the Oklahoma training track.
Laughing Fox rallied from 25 lengths back to finish fifth, 3 3/4 lengths behind War of Will in the Preakness. Laughing Fox is trained by Steve Asmussen, who won last year’s Jim Dandy with Tenfold.
The Jim Dandy will go as race 11 on a 12-race card that begins at 1 p.m. and includes the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt featuring Mitole and Imperial Hint, and the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green, which drew a highly competitive field of 13.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.