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Turbo Compressor Chases Hat Trick in Sword Dancer

28 January 2012: Turbo Compressor ridden by John Velazquez at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, FL.
With his daunting speed and ability to relax while making the pace, 4-year-old ridgling Turbo Compressor has developed this year into one of the most imposing turf horses in the country.

Unchallenged on the lead in his two most recent starts, the Todd Pletcher-trained son of Halo’s Image cruised in the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup and then the Grade 1 United Nations Handicap. On Saturday, Turbo Compressor will go after the biggest score of his career when he heads a field of nine in the 38th running of the Grade 1, $600,000 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga Race Course.

The race will be televised, along with the Grade 1, $600,00 Alabama for 3-year-old fillies, on the NBC Sports Network from 5-6 p.m. ET.

Turbo Compressor, co-highweight in the race with Point of Entry, has never been asked to run the 1 ½-mile distance of the Sword Dancer, and a victory would push him past the $ 1 million mark in earnings.

Pletcher expressed confidence that Turbo Compressor, the 2-1 favorite on the morning line, is up to the task.

“It simply depends on pace scenario, but he continues to handle the increase in distances we’ve been offering, and he appreciates being on the lead,” said Pletcher, the leading trainer at the Saratoga meet. “[Against Turbo Compressor], some people are reluctant to take their horse out of their natural running style. It’s a balancing act, jeopardizing your own horse to ensure faster fractions. It’s not only his ability to show speed, but he relaxes once he’s there.”

That ability – and the promise to take the starch out of any other speed horse to challenge him – allowed Turbo Compressor to ease through the opening half-miles of his most recent two victories in just under 50 seconds. Under those easy conditions, the closers stood little chance.

One trainer willing take the challenge of pressing Turbo Compressor early is Tom Albertrani, whose millionaire runner Brilliant Speed has been laying off the pace in his recent starts. Winner of the Grade 3 Saranac last summer at Saratoga and third in November in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf, Brilliant Speed has done his best when close up, and Albertrani doesn’t want to see him six lengths back as he was in the United Nations.

“He likes the course and, hopefully, he’s one of those horses that’s ‘horses for courses,’” Albertrani said. “The horse places himself. For some reason, the jockey last time tried to take him back, and he was fighting him the whole way. Let the horse run his own race. Brilliant Speed works faster than that; why take back and make the race into a workout? He should have been up there with Turbo Compressor that day.”

Javier Castellano picks up the mount on Brilliant Speed, 6-1 on the morning line, for the Sword Dancer.

Point of Entry, a 4-year-old Dynaformer colt for Phipps Stable, enters the Sword Dancer off three straight victories, including the Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland and the Grade 1 Man o’ War at Belmont in his most recent starts. Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, Point of Entry is 2-for-2 in turf races at 1 ½ miles. He is 5-2 on the morning line with Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard.

Another Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott, will send out the uncoupled entry of Al Khali and Newsdad.

Owned by Brous Stable and Wachtel Stable, the 6-year-old Al Khali has competed at the Grade 1 level in nine of his past 10 starts. In the 2011 Sword Dancer, the 6-year-old ridgling son of Medaglia d’Oro overcame a tough, ground-saving trip before charging through the lane, only to encounter trouble as Winchester swept to victory.

Al Khali, who will be ridden by Junior Alvarado at 8-1 on the morning line, comes into the Sword Dancer this year off a third-place finish in the United Nations, another race in which he found trouble.

“On the days when he’s run the biggest, sometimes he’s had some traffic issues, but that happens,” Mott said. “We’re not pointing fingers.”

Newsdad, 12-1 on the morning line, was fourth in the Man o’ War. Two races back, he won the Grade 2 Pan American at 1 ½ miles at Gulfstream Park.

“He’s had a little vacation,” Mott said. “We’re looking for him to run a little better race this time. He had a good winter – he ran a bunch of times. He’s had a race back in him and hopefully he’s a little more primed than he was last time.”

Also in the field are Center Divider, second last out to Point of Entry in the Man o’ War and 5-1 on the morning line; Tahoe Lake (15-1), third in the Man o’ War and second last time out in the John’s Call at 1 5/8 miles; Hailstone (20-1), third in the John’s Call; and Game Ball, 30-1.

The field for the Grade 1, $600,000 Sword Dancer:

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

Al Khali (KY)

J Alvarado

116

W I Mott

8-1

2

Point of Entry (KY)

J R Velazquez

123

C R McGaughey III

5-2

3

Tahoe Lake (BRZ)

E Castro

116

K G McPeek

15-1

4

Newsdad (KY)

J Rosario

118

W I Mott

12-1

5

Game Ball (KY)

J L Espinoza

116

N Chatterpaul

30-1

6

Center Divider (KY)

R Napravnik

116

C C Brown

5-1

7

Hailstone (KY)

J Rocco, Jr.

116

R Ribaudo

20-1

8

Brilliant Speed (FL)

J Castellano

116

T Albertrani

6-1

9

Turbo Compressor (FL)

J Bravo

123

T A Pletcher

2-1

 

 

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