Disqualified after winning his first grade I race at Monmouth Park last month, With Anticipation came right back in Saturday's $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap (gr. IT) at Saratoga, defeating King Cugat by three-quarters of a length. Under Pat Day, With Anticipation completed the 1 1/2 miles in 2:26 2/5 on good turf to earn the win. The 6-year-old son of Relaunch--Fran's Valentine improved his recorn this year on turf to three wins from four starts, with the lone blemish coming via disqualification in the United Nations Handicap (gr. IT), in which he set a course record for 1 3/8 miles on turf at Monmouth Park.
"I've never won a Grade 1 stake at Saratoga before, aside from a steeplechase," said winning trainer Jonathan Sheppard. "This makes up for getting disqualified in the United Nations, particularly for the horse."
Ela Athena broke well but settled back into the pack as Slew Valley and With Anticipation cut out the early fractions. 10-year-old John's Call raced in third early on while seeking to repeat as the Sword Dancer winner, as King Cugat raced on the inside toward the back of the field. Slew Valley and With Anticipation continued on the lead as Ela Athena loomed on the outside. In the stretch, With Anticipation fought his way to the lead and edged away from Slew Valley while King Cugat, who swung to the outside for running room in the stretch, closed ground in the middle of the track. With Anticipation held the King Cugat at bay to win by three-quarters of a length at the wire.
"When we went a half-mile into the race, I saw the clock and it was :47 and change (:47 4/5). I wasn't sure if that would be detrimental because we were going a little faster than I would have liked," said Day. "He was doing it under his own power, though, and was very comfortable. Sometimes, the time doesn't matter. It all depends on how they're handling it. Off the turn, he switched leads and really kicked hard. It was an awesome training job by Jonathan."
"He just kept getting in tight quarters," said Bill Mott, King Cugat's trainer. "He had to check three different times during the race. That was enough to make a difference in the margin of victory. Getting a perfect trip on a course like this is pretty tough. It was a good effort and the distance didn't seem to be a problem. The horse had a lot of run. I have to be happy about that. I'm not happy that we didn't reach the winners' circle."
Slew Valley finished third, followed by Gritty Sandie, Ela Athena, Craigsteel, State Shinto, and John's Call. Honor Glide was scratched.
With Anticipation paid $14.60, $5.90, and $4.20. King Cugat returned $3.60 and $2.70, and Slew Valley paid $5.40 to show. The exacta returned $47.
With Anticipation earned $300,000 for Augustin Stable with the win, his 11th in 33 career starts. He was bred by George Strawbridge Jr.
Earlier on the card, Trippi dueled with Bet Me Best through the early going before Big E E rallied to win a six-furlong allowance race by a neck over Bet Me Best. Trippi finished third, another neck back. Brutally Frank and Honorifico completed the order of finish. Big E E stopped the timer at 1:09.84. (Charts, Equibase