In yesterday's post, They Are Off documented some of the great Sword Dancer's career, including his epic 1959 campaign that resulted in him being named Horse Of The Year. Today, we analyze the race named in his honor at Saratoga at 1 1/2 miles over the Inner Turf Course at The Spa. It features a field of ten, headlined by the 3-1 morning-line favorite, Expansion. Here are the selections:
My top choice in the Sword Dancer is #6 Bearpath. If you take a look at his last race (against many of this company) in the Grade 1 Man O'War, he ran 4th and was only two lengths behind the spectacular Gio Ponti. The comments part of the past performances mentions that he got squeezed at the quarter and still managed to rally and come close. Don't forget that the Man O'War was almost stolen on the front end by longshot Mission Approved. Another factor in Bearpath's favor is the addition of Calvin Borel in the irons. How much longer can #10 Grand Courturier run with the big boys of the turf? So far, 2010 has seemed to represent the end of the road for the seven-year-old. He has a sixth and two sevenths in three graded starts this year. However, he does have five wins at the distance and two scores over this Saratoga Turf Course, including a win in the Sword Dancer in 2008. I think he might run one more big race before fading into the sunset. I will put the favorite #4 Expansion in the third slot. He only lost the Man O'War by 3/4 length and ran third overcoming a wide trip to do it. He has finished in the top two in both previous Inner Turf tries at Saratoga. One demerit for this runner is that he is still winless in 2010. If he is going to be the favorite here, I would like for him to have given me an indication he can handle it. Finally, you just cannot leave a Christophe Clement trainee out of your handicapping paragraph when we are talking turf races. That is why I will include #7 Grassy in the fourth spot at 10-1. This horse has never been greater than 9-2 in the wagering in any of the last seven starts. He could be a big value here, especially coming off a win, although this is quite the step up in class. Here is the play for the Grade 1 $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational:
$5 WP #6
$1 EX BOX 4-5-6-7-10
$1 TRI 6-10 with 6-10 with 4-5-7
As always, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!