Michael Burns

Strong European Duo Head Sword Dancer Field

Erupt is eyeing a third grade/group 1 win.

The Niarchos Family's Irish-bred Erupt will try to make 2017 his third consecutive year with a grade/group 1 victory, when he runs in the $1 million Sword Dancer Stakes (G1T) for 3-year-olds and up Aug. 26 at Saratoga Race Course.

The 5-year-old son of Dubawi (IRE)Mare Nostrum (GB), by Caerleon, is one of seven entered in the 1 1/2-mile turf stakes that is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" qualifier for the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf Nov. 4 at Del Mar. The race is one of six grade 1 stakes being run on Travers Stakes (G1) day card.

Erupt last prevailed in grade 1 company Oct. 16 when he won the Pattison Canadian International Stakes (G1T) at Woodbine by a length. After finishing 14th in the Japan Cup (G1T) Nov. 27, he was freshened, and made his 2017 debut as a 5-year-old in France where he ran fourth in the Prix Ganay and ninth in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (both G1) last out July 2. Trainer Francis-Henri Graffard said Erupt has handled the shipping well and has been training well at Saratoga.

"The ground was way too soft last time in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, but he had a very good seasonal comeback in the Prix Ganay," Graffard said. Erupt will be ridden from post 6 by jockey Stephane Pasquier, who has been aboard for all but two of the horse's 15 starts.

Fellow European shipper Idaho, a full-brother to last year's Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T) champion Highland Reel, will be making his first start since finishing third July 29 behind Ulysses and Enable in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) at Ascot. That performance came a month after the Irish-bred 4-year-old won the Hardwicke Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot by half a length.

Trained by Aidan O'Brien, Idaho has won two grade/group stakes at 1 1/2 miles and will have jockey Ryan Moore in the irons from the post 7. 

Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Money Multiplier leads the American-bred contingent. The 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky  has registered triple-digit Equibase Speed Figures in five of his last six starts and comes into the Sword Dancer off a 1 1/2-length win July 30 over Irish Strait in the Monmouth Stakes (G2T).

Trained by Chad Brown, Money Multiplier will be returning to the Spa for the first time since finishing second to champion stablemate Flintshire  in last year's Longines Sword Dancer. The Monmouth victory was the ridgling's first graded stakes win in 10 graded stakes starts. He has placed five additional times in graded company, including consecutive second-place finishes in the Man o' War Stakes (G1T) and United Nations Stakes (G1T) last summer. Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano will ride Money Multiplier, leaving from post 5.

"He ran a great race last year in the Sword Dancer and he was a bit unlucky in there," Brown said. "He seems to be training really well, so I'm excited for him to get another chance at it."

The first three finishers from the July 29 Bowling Green Stakes (G2T) at Saratoga will be in the Sword Dancer starting gate. 

Sean Shay and Michael J. Ryan's Hunter O'Riley (by Tiz Wonderful) rallied from seventh to win the Bowling Green, outkicking Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Bigger Picture (Badge of Silver) in the final jumps to win by a neck. Woodslane Farm's Sadler's Joy, a 4-year-old son of Kitten's Joy , finished third.