April 12, 2021

Sadler’s Joy takes third shot at Sword Dancer double

Sadler's Joy and Cross Border
Cross Border (right) was awarded the Bowling Green Stakes after Sadler's Joy was disqualified (Coglianese Photo/Chelsea Durand)

Disqualified from what would have been his first victory of the season in the Aug. 1 Bowling Green (G2), Sadler’s Joy will look to make amends in Saturday’s $500,000 Sword Dancer Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.

The 8-5 favorite in the Bowling Green to earn his first victory since the Red Smith (G3) in November, Sadler’s Joy was deemed to have impeded rivals in deep stretch after crossing the wire first by a neck. He was disqualified and placed fourth behind old foe Channel Maker.

A 1 1/2-mile inner turf test, the Sword Dancer is a “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep for the Turf (G1). Sadler’s Joy won it in 2017, but the Kitten’s Joy 7-year-old finished eighth in the 2018 renewal and second by a neck in 2019. He seeks to become the seventh two-time winner of the event, but the first to win in non-consecutive years.

Cross Border, who was elevated to first in the Bowling Green, seeks his third win of the Saratoga meet after previously capturing the Lubash S. on July 22.

“I don’t know what it is about Saratoga, but he seems to flourish up here,” said Nolan Ramsey, assistant to trainer Mike Maker. “Not only does he show it in his past performances, but physically the horse does well up here. His coat looks great and he really enjoys his training. We nicknamed him ‘The Machine’ because he just really gets into his training. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it is about Saratoga, but he likes it up here.”

Maker has another serious contender in Aquaphobia, one-length winner of the United Nations (G1) last out. Also seven, Aquaphobia was claimed for $62,500 at Gulfstream in January.

“We picked him up this winter at Gulfstream and he’s really flourished for us. He’s really come together,” said Ramsey. “I think the more distance he gets the better he is. He’s an all-class horse and I don’t think it matters whether it’s a mile and a quarter, mile and three-eighths or a mile and a half, he seems to be able to handle it all. He’s a very professional horse and I expect a big race from him.”

Also in the lineup is Pedro Cara, who missed by a nose in the inaugural Jockey Club Derby at Belmont last fall in his lone previous trip to the U.S. The French-bred raced twice in Qatar last winter, taking the Qatar Derby (G2) in December and then running third in a Group 1 contest in February.

Besides division mainstays Highland Sky and Marzo, the field is rounded out by Corelli, who improved second out in the U.S. when 1 1/2 lengths third in the United Nations.

***

L’Imperator, 3-for-4 in the French provinces, makes his stakes debut for new trainer Chad Brown in the $100,000 Saranac Stakes (G3), a one-mile inner turf test for 3-year-olds. Owned in a partnership that includes Sol Kumin, L’Imperator faces a field that includes Texas Turf Mile winner Bodecream and Don Juan Kitten, a recent allowance winner for Mike Maker.

Making his turf debut in the Saranac will be Three Technique, a son of grass performer Mr Speaker who disappointed in the H. Allen Jerkens (G1) earlier this month in his first outing since mid-March.