Saratoga's Sword Dancer Stakes (gr. IT) was pushed back from earlier in the meet to the stakes-packed Travers day program this year and has drawn a much better field than it has in years past. The 2015 renewal has an intriguing eight-horse field headed by Twin Creeks Racing Stables' homebred Red Rifle. Saratoga Race Course, Saturday, August 29, 2015, Race 10
Red Rifle, a 5-year-old Giant's Causeway gelding won the Aug. 1 Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 3/8 miles over rivals War Dancer and Imagining . The Todd Pletcher-trained runner has won seven of 19 starts and $696,306. The $1 million purse of the Aug. 29 Sword Dancer would clearly be his biggest payday if he can negotiate an additional eighth of a mile.
Diamond M Stable's War Dancer was fourth in last year's Sword Dancer and Phipps Stable's Imagining was second. The winner was Main Sequence, who would go on to win the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) and the Eclipse Award for top turf male. Like many of the stakes on the Aug. 29 card at Saratoga, the Sword Dancer is a "Win and You're In" event.
There is a distinct foreign flavor to the Sword Dancer with half of the field being bred overseas.
The most heavily traveled is Juddmonte Farms' Flintshire , a British-bred 5-year-old by Dansili. Beaten just a half-length by Main Sequence in the Breeders' Cup last fall, he's raced in Europe, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates since then, winning the Longines Hong Kong Vase (HK-I) at about 12 furlongs. Vincent Cheminaud will ride Flintshire who has a 4-8-1 mark in international competition in 16 starts and $5,304,880 in earnings.
Brazlian-bred Fixador showed spark in his second U.S. start last December in the W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park, but returned Aug. 8 in the Lure Stakes at the Spa and finished fifth. A multiple group I winner in Brazil, the son of Crafty T. C. will have his work cut out for him under Junior Alvarado.
Messi is two-for-two in New York since shipping from his native Germany. Trained by Graham Motion, he's taken a pair of allowance optional claiming races as the heavy favorite and treads into deep grade I country here.
French-bred Guardini is a group II winner in Germany, and he makes his U.S. debut for the Australian Racing Stables and trainer Paul Harley. Well-versed at 1 1/2 miles, his 3-1-0 mark from nine starts shows he'll have to showed marked improvement.
West Point Thoroughbreds' Twilight Eclipse, a three-time winner at the trip, won the 11-furlong Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) earlier this year at Belmont Park | BloodHorse.com Track Profile">Belmont Park and was a closing third behind Big Blue Kitten and Slumber last time out in the July 5 United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park. Trainer Tom Albertrani puts Joel Rosario up for the first time since 2012 on the 6-year-old son of Purim. The consistent Twilight Eclipse was second in the 2013 Sword Dancer and third last year and was also third in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf. He's won or placed in 17 of 26 starts.
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Imagining (KY) Irad Ortiz, Jr. 122 Claude R. McGaughey III - 2 2Flintshire (GB) Vincent Cheminaud 122 Andre Fabre - 3 3Fixador (BRZ) Junior Alvarado 116 Eduardo Caramori - 4 4Red Rifle (KY) Jose L. Ortiz 122 Todd A. Pletcher - 5 5Twilight Eclipse (KY) Joel Rosario 124 Thomas Albertrani - 6 6Messi (GER) John R. Velazquez 116 H. Graham Motion - 7 7Guardini (FR) Martin Harley 120 Paul Harley - 8 8War Dancer (KY) Jose Lezcano 118 William I. Mott -
Saratoga Race Course, Saturday, August 29, 2015, Race 10