SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Matthew Schera’s Glorious Empire broke like a rocket from the gate and never looked back en route to wiring the field of 10 older males in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1,000,000 Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga.
The Sword Dancer is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Glorious Empire receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Turf at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Shooting sharply from his rail-drawn post under Julien Leparoux, Glorious Empire set a fast opening 1/4-mile in :23.16 before slowing it down and coasting uncontested through fractions of :48.18, 1:13.88, and 1:38.82 for the opening mile. Still lacking pressure from the second-place runner Channel Maker as he straightened for home, Glorious Empire had more than enough left in the tank to outfinish the field, crossing the wire with a lengthy advantage in a final time of 2:24.41 for the 1 1/2-mile turf marathon.
“He traveled very good for me, and he’s got that kick, you know, and at the end, he just exploded,” Leparoux said. “He obviously loves the track. He won two here this year and one last year. The first 1/4 (mile) was fast, but he settled very nicely and picked up the pace pretty quickly.”
Channel Maker continued on well for second, finishing well ahead of a late-running Spring Quality, who edged Hi Happy for third. Highland Sky took fifth past the 2/1 favorite Sadler’s Joy and Funtastic, while Bigger Picture, Seahenge, and Revved Up completed the order of finish.
Glorious Empire’s win was his second straight in a graded event, following a score in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes, and his third straight overall while increasing his record to 23-9-0-3. The James Lawrence-trained and Irish-bred 7-year-old gelded son of Holy Roman Emperor has now earned $852,147 in his career.
“I’m trying to get my voice back,” Lawrence said. “We knew this horse had this kind of talent, it was just a matter of getting it to come out.”
Glorious Empire returned $33.40 to win, $14.40 to place, and $9.80 to show. Channel Maker brought back $8.20 to place and $5.30 to show, while Spring Quality paid $4.70 to show.