Kentucky Derby winner Orb has been the subject of much attention for
his recent stay at the Fair Hill Training Center, his stablemate, the
6-year-old turf standout Boisterous, also has spent time lately at the
Maryland facility, getting a little rest and relaxation in the midst of
the best season of his career.
in Saratoga Race Course and fresh and ready off a blistering bullet
four-furlong work on August 5, Boisterous is set to headline a stellar
field of long-winded turf stars Saturday in the Grade 1, $600,000 Sword
1½-mile Sword Dancer, for 3-year-olds and up, drew 13 runners, with Big
Blue Kitten and Stormy Lord coupled as an entry for owners Kenneth and
Sarah Ramsey. Combined, the runners in the field have amassed 23 graded
stakes victories, including four Grade 1's and 10 Grade 2's.
a Phipps homebred son of Distorted Humor, has fashioned a brief but
impressive campaign this year, finishing second on the Keeneland
Polytrack to Successful Dan in the Grade 3 Ben Ali and then easily
winning the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes and the Grade 1 Man o' War at
the Monmouth Stakes, Boisterous dispatched Big Blue Kitten, who came
back to win the Grade 1 United Nations Handicap. In the Man o' War he
beat world record-holder Twilight Eclipse, both of whom are back for the
he ran in the Man o' War, we sent him down to Fair Hill the next day,
just to sort of get him away," Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said
of Boisterous. "He was going in the cold water therapy down there after
being turned out and training."
had one published work at Fair Hill (four furlongs in 48.40 seconds on
July 27) and when he returned to Saratoga, he tore through a half-mile
in 46.55 over the Oklahoma training track turf, the quickest of 58 that
day at the distance.
the 5-2 favorite on the morning line, has won 11 of 21 lifetime starts
on the grass but finished fifth in his only 1 ½-mile try, in the 2011
Sword Dancer. McGaughey has confidence the distance will not pose a
to [Hall of Fame jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] after the Man o' War, he
felt like he was better at the longer distances than shorter distances,"
McGaughey said. "He said, 'I can kind of do more with him.' He's gotten
now where he relaxes well in his races, so I don't think a mile and a
half will be a problem."
Blue Kitten, the 4-1 second choice as part of the entry, also has
reached top form this year, winning the United Nations in his most
recent start over Sword Dancer entrant Teaks North. The 5-year-old
Kitten's Joy horse has won three of five this year for trainer Chad
Brown, and he has stretched out in distance in each of his past three
horse is pretty versatile, if you look back at his whole career, albeit
at a lesser level," Brown said. "He has won wire-to-wire, he's won from
dead last. I think he can adapt to the pace, so the ideal situation in
my own head is that he has some pace to run at so I'm not on the lead."
multiple graded stakes winner Teaks North, 8-1 on the morning line, is
the lone proven front-runner in the field, powerful pace-pressers are
signed on for the Sword Dancer.
Eclipse, 5-1 on the morning line, set a world record of 2:22.63 for 1 ½
miles on the turf in the Grade 2 Pan American Handicap on March 23 at
Gulfstream Park. Trained by Tom Albertrani for West Point Thoroughbreds,
the 4-year-old gelded son of Purim has been beaten twice since,
finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan and then
second to Boisterous in the Man o' War.
races were contested on ground with give to it, and Albertrani said
Twilight Eclipse would appreciate a return to firm footing.
a solid group, but if he runs back to his Gulfstream race - and it
looks like we'll be on firmer ground this week - it makes him that much
tougher," he said. "Gulfstream Park that day was really firm, so that is
what he likes. The horse looks great. I like how he's going into the
race. He's in great, great form."
figuring to be close to the pace is Optimizer, a 4-year-old Calumet
Farm colt who has run 22 times the past year and a half for Hall of Fame
trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
son of English Channel, 6-1 on the morning line, scored in
back-to-back Grade 3 stakes races this past winter at the Fair Grounds
and also finished second to reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the
Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and second in
the Woodford Reserve Manhattan to Point of Entry.
Optimizer is 0-for-2 at the Sword Dancer distance.
is definitely a concern," Lukas said, "but I think it's a concern for
some of the others, too. I think it's a little bit farther than his best
distance, but he's such a hard-trying horse, he could come alive."
of Fame trainer Bill Mott will send out 7-year-old Al Khali, 10-1, for
his fourth straight Sword Dancer. The roan son of Medaglia d'Oro has two
seconds and a third in the race.
out the field are six-time stakes winner Stormy Lord, coupled with Big
Blue Kitten; Exclusive Strike (15-1), most recently third in the Man o'
War; London Lane (20-1), a 50-1 upset winner of the Grade 2 Colonial
Turf Cup last out; stakes-winning French import Nutello (12-1); Tahoe
Lake, fifth in the Sword Dancer last year; the filly Tannery (20-1),
winner of the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay, and Star Channel (30-1).