Sadler's Joy Rallies to Sword Dancer Victory
By Frank Angst, courtesy Blood-Horse
After earning a pair of grade 1 placings earlier this year, Sadler's Joy uncorked a powerful late kick to rally past all six rivals in the stretch to win the $1 million Sword Dancer Stakes (G1T) Aug. 26 at Saratoga Race Course.
After third-place finishes earlier this year in both the 1 3/8-mile Man o' War and 1 1/4-mile Woodford Reserve Manhattan (both G1T) stakes at Belmont Park, a return to 1 1/2 miles may have made the difference for Woodslane Farm homebred Sadler's Joy. With Saturday's win, the 4-year-old Kitten's Joy colt improved to 3-1-0 from four starts at that distance for trainer Tom Albertrani.
That record at the distance, which also includes a victory in this year's Pan American Stakes (G2T) at Gulfstream Park, is a good trend for Sadler's Joy, who earned a fees-paid entry in the 1 1/2-mile Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T) as the Sword Dancer is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race.
On Saturday, jockey Julien Leparoux allowed Sadler's Joy to settle into last place of seven early in the Sword Dancer, eight or nine lengths off the pace, as race favorite Idaho hooked up with longshot Frank Conversation through a quick half-mile in :49.17. Those two would continue to duel through a mile in 1:38.52, but that would only set up a wild finish for horses coming off the pace.
Bigger Picture and Money Multiplier would emerge in the final sixteenth and battle head and head to the wire but Leparoux had taken Sadler's Joy, who had still been last at the eighth pole, to the outside and that final, six-wide move would prove best as he scored by a half-length. Sadler's Joy completed the 1 1/2-mile test on the inner turf in 2:24.58.
"He (Leparoux) has ridden him well every time," said Albertrani, who picked up his first win of the meet. "We had some misfortune, maybe, in the Man o' War when we got boxed in the whole race, but that's racing luck. Today he showed that kick. This horse has that tremendous kick and he did it today."
The winner returned $16 to win, $5.50 to place, and $3.80 to show. Money Multiplier returned $3.90 and $2.90 while Bigger Picture paid $3.60 to show.
Leparoux said Sadler's Joy had an awkward start but soon settled down; setting up his powerful late finish. He would make up 6 1/4 lengths in a final quarter-mile run in :22.68.
"He just kind of broke and spooked at something coming out of the gate. The main thing after that was to have a good pace, which we did, and I was in the back and he was doing it pretty easy; traveling very well," Leparoux said. "Then he came home very fast and by the middle of the stretch I thought I could get them. He ran a big race and he's a good horse and he's one I think we will hear from even more for the rest of the year. He's really improved."
Sadler's Joy is out of the unraced Dynaformer mare Dynaire, who has produced three winners including stakes-placed Lunaire.