With equal parts flair
and power, Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps’ homebred colt Point of Entry powered through the stretch Saturday and easily won the Grade 1, $600,000
Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga Race Course.
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
The victory in the 38th running of the 1 ½-mile turf race
for 3-year-olds and up solidified Point of Entry’s standing as one of the
elite turf horses in the country.
Tucked in behind three opponents around the far turn, Point of Entry, a
4-year-old son of Dynaformer, moved sharply off the rail at the quarter pole
and to the outside in the stretch. When recent Hall of Fame inductee John
Velazquez asked him to run, Point of Entry blew past the leaders in an instant
and cruised home under mild urging four lengths in front of runner-up Al Khali.
Winning his fourth straight race, and tallying back-to-back Grade 1
wins with the Man o’ War at Belmont Park, Point of Entry ran the 1 ½
miles in a sharp 2:26.40 and paid $4.80 for a $2 win bet as the 7-5 favorite.
“I was keeping him behind horses,” Velazquez said after the
race. “I wanted him to be covered up. He was really strong the whole way.
By the half-mile pole, I pointed him outside and the horse who was laying third
took a bad step, so I had to go back inside with him. But I didn’t want
to make a move before the quarter-pole anyway, so it worked out. He was ready
to go any time I let him go. Incredible.”
The Sword Dancer matched two of the hottest turf runners in the country
in Point of Entry and Turbo Compressor. The latter was coming off back-to-back
victories in the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup and the Grade 1 United Nations.
In both those races, Turbo Compressor galloped unchallenged on the lead
through moderate fractions and could not be caught. In the Sword Dancer,
however, which was Turbo Compressor’s first try at 1 ½ miles, the pace
was a pressured one.
Turbo Compressor led by a length through six furlongs in 1:13.77 and a
mile in 1:37.90, pushed along by Center Divider.
“Down in Monmouth, he went 1:15 [in the United Nations] and today
he went 1:13,” said Point of Entry’s Hall of Fame trainer, Claude
“Shug” McGaughey. “I told [Velazquez] if the pace is fast, you’ll know where you’ll be,
and if it’s slow, he’ll take you where he wants to go.”
Point of Entry kept close contact with the leaders throughout. When the
field accelerated into the far turn, Newsdad had joined the vanguard three wide.
At the quarter pole, Velazquez and Point of Entry swung into action,
and the race quickly was over. Al Khali, who saved ground inside most of the
race, also came out in the stretch and rallied for second. Brilliant Speed was
2 ½ lengths back in third, followed by Newsdad, Tahoe Lake, Hailstone, Center
Divider, Game Ball and Turbo Compressor.
The Phipps Stable won the Sword Dancer one other time, in its third
running when Phipps’ father, the late Odgen Phipps, scored with
Effervescing in 1977.
“This is a great day for me, and I’m enjoying every minute
of it,” Phipps said afterward.