Sword Dancer is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Race to $4 Million Longines Turf
The Travers Stakes may be the headline event of the biggest day of betting and racing at Saratoga, but the $1 Million Sword Dancer is a terrific race leading into the Travers. Contested at 1 ½ miles on the inner turf, the Sword Dancer has drawn a diverse group of marathoners, including a pair of European favorites breaking from the outside in Idaho (2-1) from Ireland and Erupt (3-1) from France. California shipper Frank Conversation (20-1) is a long shot breaking from the rail, but a trait the seven turf marathoners share is that
none has spent much, if any, time on the early pace in their races.
In the field of 7, the #5 horse Sadler’s Joy (5-1) is one to target on top, despite storming to the front in the local prep Bowling Green Stakes (G2) over this turf last time out but failing to finish it off. A rider switch back to Julien Lepareaux is positive, as the top jock should cover him up and have him ready to finish strong. The lack of pace is a concern, but the Bowling Green Stakes just fell apart, so two others in here who made their move to finish 1-2 will get solid consideration. That includes the Bowling Green winner Hunter O’Reilly (6-1), who stole that race at 16-1 odds, and Florent Geroux rides again. Bigger Picture (8-1) was 2nd by a neck in that race, and this 10-time winner also has a rider change to top jock Jose Ortiz for trainer Mike Maker. Bigger Picture has solid tactical speed and should factor.
The Sword Dancer is a Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In‘ Challenge Series race to the $4 Million Longines Turf Nov. 4 at Del Mar.
Money Multiplier (7-2) is a clear contender for top turf trainer Chad Brown. Javier Castellano switches over from Sadler’s Joy, and Money Multiplier enters off a win in the Monmouth Stakes (G2) last month over a weaker group, and he also finished 2nd in last year’s Sword Dancer.
Many look at the two favorites as the top choices, but that’s not necessarily a value play or a certainty. Erupt beat Idaho in the Canadian International last October at Woodbine at 12-1 odds, but current form doesn’t look as good. He didn’t handle the ground in a poor finish last time out. Idaho doesn’t possess push button acceleration like Erupt, but Idaho is one to include following his 3rd place finish at Ascot last month. Idaho has faced so much better than these abroad, which is why he’s the top betting choice and considered the most likely winner.
The Sword Dancer is Race 10 at Saratoga on Aug. 26 with post time approx. 4:49pm ET. The Sword Dancer and Travers Stakes will both be broadcast by NBC Sports with TV coverage starting at 4:30 ET.