SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y., AUG. 9 -- A pair of 3-year-olds with tarnished reputations, Polish Navy and Cryptoclearance, came into the Jim Dandy Stakes today to regain their credibility.
Polish Navy succeeded, leading all the way to win the $177,900 race and earning a berth in the Travers Stakes two weeks hence.
Cryptoclearance failed, indicating that he ought to have a long, long rest before he is ready to tackle top-class competition again.
Polish Navy had been considered the best horse of his generation at one point during his 2-year-old campaign. He defeated Bet Twice and Java Gold, two of the favorites for the upcoming Travers. But, after undergoing arthroscopic surgery for a bone chip this winter, he never looked the same, and had won only an allowance race in three tries.
Today, he showed a semblance of his old form, though the favorable circumstances made it hard to evaluate his performance.
Jockey Pat Day sent Polish Navy to the front immediately, and he was able to hold it without much early pressure. He set an easy pace, covering the first quarter in 24 1/5 seconds and the half in :47 4/5.
Angel Cordero Jr. had been stalking the leaders with Pledge Card, and challenged on the turn, but Polish Navy was still strong and was able to brush it off and draw away to a 2 1/4-length victory.
His time of 1:48 2/5 for 1 1/8 miles was the same as Java Gold's in his Whitney Handicap victory yesterday, and the track was only a bit faster today. But it is easier for a front-runner to look good when he can cruise with a slow pace than when he is pressured, as Polish Navy surely will be in the Travers. "Off this race, we are Travers-bound," trainer Shug McGaughey said.
As for Cryptoclearance, the rigors of the Triple Crown series appear to have taken their toll on the light-bodied colt. He had been soundly trounced in his only start since the Belmont Stakes. Today, he tried to move three-wide around the turn, but never got into contention, finishing 2 1/2 lengths behind runner-up Pledge Card.
Cryptoclearance's trainer, Scotty Schulhofer, was more charitable: "I'm absolutely tickled to death with his race. He carried 126 pounds and with all that weight, you have to be happy. I'll probably run him back in the Travers."
The Travers continues to shape up as a memorable confrontation of the country's top 3-year-olds. Day, who will relinquish the mount on Polish Navy to ride Java Gold, said, "It will be the race of the century."
Pimlico: In Baltimore, Ms. Rutledge came from off the pace to win the $39,500 Summertime Stakes by two lengths over Nasty Affair. Cutlasee was third. Odds-on favorite Cagey Exuberance pressed the pace, but tired and finished fifth.