HorseMadness II: Cinderella Championship – Jim Dandy v. Onion

We have reached the HorseMadness II Championship after a month long competition battle to see who will be the last Cinderella still dancing. Thank you to all who have voted and helped us conduct this poll. But now on the ‘ship! 

Jim Dandy v. Onion

It is interesting to note the similarities between these two Cinderellas, and what it says about our readers thoughts on what makes a great upset. Both defeated a Triple Crown winner, at Saratoga the Graveyard of Favorites, in that Triple Crown winners’ championship season.  As lifelong Saratoga enthusiasts (read: obsessed diehards), the ‘Bros could not be any happier that the Spa takes center stage in the Championship. But although these Cinderellas danced on the same stage, they were far from the same “type” of underdog.

Onion was the second choice (5-1) in the 1973 Whitney when he beat Secretariat, well Jim Dandy was famously 100-1 in the 1930 when he defeated Gallant Fox. Onion had ran 4 days prior to the Whitney, running six furlongs in then record time and was going as good as ever. Jim Dandy had already run 20 times in 1930 and had not yet won a race.

What Jim Dandy did have, was a love for a muddy strip at Saratoga, having won the previous years Grand Union Hotel under those conditions. And in August of 1930, the stars aligned again for Jim Dandy as the track was described by the famous turf writer Damon Runyon as “Saratoga Goo” (whose going to reserve that name with the Jockey Club?). Jim Dandy relished the conditions, sat within 3 lengths of Gallant Fox and second choice Whichone, both of who raced wide the entire race believing it was the best part of the track. Around the far turn, Whichone bore out on Gallant Fox, and Jim Dandy found a huge opening at the rail, took advantage and never looked back winning by open lengths.

The 1973 Whitney, was run in a small field of 6 horses. Secretariat was coming off the Triple Crown and a dominating run in the Invitational at Arlington. But the Whitney was his first attempt against older horses and many, including the Giant Killer H. Allen Jerkens, noted that Secretariat looked flat in his training coming up to the race. With Onion at the top of his game, and no other speed signed on, the Chief took a shot with Onion. His instructions to Jacinto Vasquez were to keep Secretariat on the inside and “get a check”. Onion and Vasquez did more than that, leading at every call all the way to the finish.

Watch the 1973 Whitney. 

Both of these Cinderellas caught magic in a bottle on their biggest day, running their lifetime best performance against the toughest of competition. They also both were aided by racing luck, and human connections who developed tactics which gave each the best chance to spring the upset. This is  great championship matchup, and we are excited to see who you think deserves the victory.


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