SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Woodslane Farm’s homebred Sadler’s Joy didn’t do it cleanly but he did it well, surging late and nailing the leaders at the wire to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $1,250,000 Sword Dancer Stakes.
The Sword Dancer was a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In race, giving Sadler’s Joy an all-fees-waived entry into the Breeders’ Cup Turf on November 4 at Del Mar.
The 4-year-old colt had a troubled start, breaking a beat slow and then hitting the gate before settling inside while Frank Conversation and Idaho took turns leading through fractions of :24.42, :49.17, 1:14.19, 1:38.52, and 2:01.90. Turning for home, jockey Julien Leparoux angled out six wide and rallied with a strong kick to outjump Money Multiplier and Bigger Picture by a 1/2-length at the wire. The final time for the 12-furlong turf marathon was 2:24.58.
“Yeah, million-dollar duck, I guess,” said winning trainer Tom Albertrani. “At the beginning, He kind of propped leaving there and Julien said he didn’t know what happened. He kind of just stalled on the break and then when he got going he felt really happy with the place he was in and felt that the pace was honest and he didn’t panic and just waited for the right moment to push the button.”
Money Multiplier finished a nose in front of Bigger Picture. Hunter O’Riley, Erupt, Idao, and Frank Conversation completed the order of finish.
The rough start notwithstanding, Sadler’s Joy took Leparoux and Albertrani to the winner’s circle for the first time together at the Saratoga meet. It was the first Grade 1 of his career, improving his overall record to 12-5-1-3 with earnings of $1,002,968.
“He just kind of broke and spooked at something coming out of the gate,” Leparoux said. “The main thing after that was to have a good pace, which we did, and I was in the back and he was doing it pretty easy; traveling very well. Then he came home very fast and by the middle of the stretch I thought I could get them. He ran a big race. He’s a good horse. He’s one I think we will hear from even more for the rest of the year. He’s really improved.”
Sadler’s Joy returned $16 to win, $5.50 to place, and $3.80 to show. Money Multiplier brought back $3.90 to place and $2.90 to show, while Bigger Picture paid $3.60 to show.