August 3, 2001

Three-Year-Olds Back in Action
It's a big weekend for the best three-year-olds in the nation.

Tomorrow at Saratoga, Congaree, brave pace-presser in the first two jewels of the 2001 American Triple Crown and impressive winner last time of the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park, will return to action in the Jim Dandy.

And on Sunday at Monmouth Park, the undisputed king of the three-year-olds, the great Point Given, comes back after his near-sweep of the Spring Classics, contesting the Haskell Invitation.

Not surprisingly, both Congaree and Point Given are resuming their careers on cue, as orchestrated by the maestro, Mr. Bob Baffert. While the Jim Dandy and Haskell offer rich purses and much prestige, neither race is even close the ultimate objective for Baffert's pair of talented sophomores.

Can you say Breeders' Cup? (Whoa. Make that World Thoroughbred Championships.)

Point Given has all the signs of a horse ready to tackle his elders, and thereby run away with the Breeders' Cup Classic. But there are some races to run before that, and a few of them are still limited to the three-year-olds everyone knows he can whip. What's the hurry?

Of course, Baffert knows that, and you can bet Point Given in the Haskell will not be put to the same kind of drive he was asked for in the Triple Crown races.

That said, Point Given still looks tough to deny on Sunday, but if he's involved in a close fight in the lane, this is one round he can sacrifice. Translation: be on the lookout for a live longshot for whom the Haskell might represent a single moment of glory.

With Congaree, expect at least a little more lively effort than he put forth in the Swaps, a race in which he was tested a little, though the fractions were ridiculously slow, and the final-time figure suffered a bunch, too.

Nonetheless, Congaree looks like the best of a moderate bunch, and A P Valentine might not be ready to fire the sort of shot that brought him runner-up finishes in the Preakness and Belmont.

Windsor Castle, an ex-maiden-claimer, figures to be overbet, as will turf-to-dirt mover Indygo Shiner. Scorpion is not too fast ,and at 30-1 on the morning line, perhaps Free of Love can make the vertical exotics pay a little more than the crowd will forecast.

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As always, thanks for reading, and see you next time.

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