Saratoga Race Course will be running one of their top turf races of their season this Saturday, the Grade 1 $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational. The race will feature ten horses going 1 1/2 miles on the Inner Turf Course at The Spa. For today's feature, I thought I would provide a look back at the horse that the race was named after.
Sword Dancer (pictured) compiled an impressive record during his time on the racetrack. He started 39 times in his career, winning fifteen of those races, with seven seconds and four thirds. Sword Dancer earned a total of $829,610 in purses for his career. Perhaps the most famous part of Sword Dancer's story is a race he didn't win. Sword Dancer finished second by a nose to Tomy Lee in the 1959 Kentucky Derby. The rider of Tomy Lee, Bill Shoemaker, thought that Bill Boland and Sword Dancer were poised to run past him at the top of the stretch and he shouted above the din to Boland, "Go Get It!". Boland thought Shoemaker was playing tricks on him and waited for Shoemaker to re-rally with Tomy Lee. It just so happened that at this point Tomy Lee and Sword Dancer made some minor contact with each other causing Tomy Lee to finally switch leads and he managed to stay right with Sword Dancer and held on to win the Run For The Roses by a mere nose.
Sword Dancer went on to win the 1959 Belmont Stakes, which just began a run of greatness that would lead him to the 1959 Horse Of The Year title. Sword Dancer would go on to win the Woodward, Suburban, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup on his way to the title. He would come back again in 1960 to repeat his victories in the Woodward and the Suburban. By the way, in addition to the Horse Of The Year crown in 1959, Sword Dancer would win Three-Year-Old Colt and Male Handicap Horse recognition as well.
Sword Dancer would go on to sire one of the great horses of the 1960s in Damascus, who also failed in Louisville in 1967, but would go on to win the Preakness and Belmont that year. Sword Dancer was inducted in the Racing Hall Of Fame in 1977 and was voted #53 on the list of Top 100 Horses of the 20th Century.
Tune in tomorrow for my selections for Saturday's Sword Dancer Invitational. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!
Photo courtesy of tbheritage.com