Keith Desormeaux's primary motive behind sending a small string of horses to Saratoga Race Course this summer was his imposing bay colt, Texas Red.
The 2014 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner is one of seven 3-year-olds entered in Saturday's $600,000 Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, a group that also includes Belmont Stakes runner-up Frosted. Not that many are expected to start, with others cross-entered in Sunday's Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
"The main catalyst for sending these few horses out there (to Saratoga) is undoubtedly Texas Red," Desormeaux said before the meet opened July 24. "Texas Red is bred and built for distance racing on the dirt. He's coming into form at this time, and to put it simply there's no straight 3-year-old stakes here in California at this time of year on the dirt. So it actually was a no brainer."
After his 2-year-old season culminated with an impressive win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Texas Red finished second in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes in February at Santa Anita. Sidelined by hoof problems for the duration of the Triple Crown season, Texas Red made his comeback in the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes July 4 at Belmont, running second to Speightster.
"He's been a battle to get over his ailments, which came at the most inopportune time, during the prep for the Derby," Desormeaux said. "He's been nothing but a joy and he owes us nothing, so we weren't disappointed that we couldn't make that at all. It's just part of the game. So we brought him around slow and he excelled, and he had a great comeback race in the Dwyer, which I think sets him up perfectly for the Jim Dandy and ultimately the Travers."
Texas Red enters the Jim Dandy after a bullet work July 25 at Saratoga. The son of Afleet Alex warmed up with a stablemate on the Saratoga main track before pulling ahead to work 5 furlongs in :59.60.
"He's all business," Desormeaux said. "He's big, he's tough, he's beautiful, he's everything we want in a horse athletically."
To read more about the Jim Dandy and the other three graded stakes Saturday at Saratoga, download the digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by Keeneland.