Las Vegas, NV - Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York will play host to the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes this Sunday, August 17. Horses three years old and upward will take to Saratoga's turf track and go 1 1/4 miles looking for the winner's portion of the $500,000 purse.
A field of seven quality older horses will line up in the Sword Dancer - race 10 on Saratoga's Sunday card. Post time is 6:04 PM. Let's take a glance into the past performances of all seven entries for this lucrative Grade 2 stakes.
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2014 Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes Race Favorite Entries
Main Sequence - H Graham Motion trained gelding made his North American debut July 6 and posted the upset win in the 1 3/8 mile Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park at 8-1 odds. He recorded four wins, three seconds and three third place finishes at home before his tremendous debut here including a runner-up finish in the Group 1 Epsom Derby in England. His last race in Britain was an eighth way back in October at Ascot after a pair of third in stakes races at Newbury and Kempton Park. Main Sequence now has five wins, three seconds and three third place finishes in 15 career starts and has been instilled as the 2-1 morning line favorite. Rajiv Maragh has been tabbed to ride Main Sequence from post 4 hoping to snap a 0-for-5 lifetime mark at 1 1/2 miles.
Twilight Eclipse - defending runner-up in this race is the world record holder at 1 1/2 miles on turf - at last year's Pan American Stakes at Gulfstream. He won the Grade 2 William McKnight Handicap at 12 furlongs December 28 in wire-to-wire fashion by seven lengths and then went on to a win in February in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida Stakes at Gulfstream as well. He took his show to Dubai where he finished a disappointing twelfth in a Group 1 stakes and returned to North America June 6 and finished an unflattering fourth in the minor Belmont Gold Cup Invitational. Last time out was a decent second as favorite behind Main Sequence in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes July 6. He has 18 career starts with six wins, three seconds and a third place finish and has four wins and three seconds in 11 career graded stakes tries. Twilight Eclipse looks to build off a good effort last time out with Jose Lezcano aboard from the outside post as the 5-2 second choice.
Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes 2014 | Remaining Contenders
Imagining - won two straight races in the summer of 2012 - both at Belmont Park after a very good second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in November 2011. He was out of racing for nine months before returning to an Allowance score at Keeneland April 13, 2013. He had looked good at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 - a good win in the Grade 1 Man o' War Stakes May 11 followed a second behind Lochte in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and a two race win streak - the Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct November 16 and the overnight Bowl Game Stakes at Belmont Park in October. Last time out however was an uncharacteristic sixth in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park June 7. Imagining has won four of his last seven starts with a second place finish in there and looks for a strong bounce back for trainer Shug McGaughey this weekend. He leaves from gate 5 with Joel Rosario in the saddle as an intriguing 7-2 choice.
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Amira's Prince - Irish bred colt was last seen running sixth in the Grade 1 Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park May 11. He recorded two straight Allowance Optional Claiming scores in his first two races on North American soil, a win in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream last February 16 and another victory at the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Handicap at Fair Grounds March 30, 2013. Amira's Prince was out of action for nearly one full year before returning to a decent third behind Lochte and Imagining in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap February 9 and a second by a neck to Skyring in the Grade 2 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Handicap at Fair Grounds March 29. He had placed in nine straight starts with four wins before his hiccup last time out - hopes are that he can return to his early 2013 form. Junior Alvarado rides from post 3 at 6-1 odds.
War Dancer - Kenneth McPeek trained colt has 14 career starts with four wins, three seconds and two third place finishes. He had a respectable third in the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes May 3 and ended 2013 with an eighth in the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park in October after a disappointing sixth in the Grade 1 Travers and his best result by far - an incredible win in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby July 13. In 2014 War Dancer has five starts with varying results - a seventh in the Grade 3 Skip Away Stakes and a sixth in an Allowance Optional Claiming March 1 started his year off slowly. But he has come around of late - a third behind Finnegan's Wake last time out in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap followed a nice win in the 1 1/2 mile Grade 3 Louisville Handicap May 24 and a good second in the Grade 2 Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes in April. Alan Garcia will be in charge of keeping the upward trend going as War Dancer leaves from gate 6 at 8-1 odds.
Perfect Timber - Roger Attfield trainee has 10 career starts with two wins and three second place finishes. Last time out was a good second in the Grade 3 Singspiel Stakes at Woodbine after a sixth in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap in May, an eighth in an Allowance in April and a tenth to end his 2013 campaign - in the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International Stakes. Before that was a career-best effort - a second in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer behind Fort Dei Marmi. Perfect Timber has placed in just one of his last four starts and has yet to win a stakes race. Hopes are that all changes Sunday as he is sent off at 12-1 odds from post 2. Javier Castellano gets the call.
O'Prado Ole - has 10 career starts for trainer Dale Romans with two wins, a second and two third place finishes. He is coming off a good second in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Stakes July 12 after consecutive fifths in Allowance Optional Claiming races at Churchill Downs. He has yet to win in graded stakes company but came close last time out. Despite that, O'Prado Ole is the longest shot in the field - 15-1 and will have John Velazquez in the saddle from the rail.
2014 Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes Entries & Odds
Race 10 on Saratoga Race Course's Sunday card with a Post Time of 6:04 PM.
|1||O'Prado Ole||J. Velazquez||D. Romans|
|2||Perfect Timber||J. Castellano||R. Attfield|
|3||Amira's Prince (IRE)||J. Alvarado||W. Mott|
|4||Main Sequence||R. Maragh||H. Motion|
|5||Imagining||J. Rosario||C. McGaughey III|
|6||War Dancer||A. Garcia||K. McPeek|
|7||Twilight Eclipse||J. Lezcano||T. Albertrani|