08/17/2014 12:06PM

Crist: Sword Dancer analysis


Sunday’s Grade 1 Sword Dancer at 1 1/2 miles on the turf drew a field of seven, and six of them fit pretty neatly into one of two categories: three obvious favorites and three obvious tosses.

Main Sequence, Imagining, and Twilight Eclipse are all going to be in the 8-5 to 3-1 range, and while I prefer them in that order, all can win this, and there’s not much to choose among them. Main Sequence came off an eight-month layoff to win the United Nations by a neck over Twilight Eclipse last time out. If he moves forward, which he is entitled to do second off a layoff, he’ll beat him again; if he moves backward, as Europeans sometimes do in their second starts here, he won’t. He’s the horse to beat and arguably is a bargain at his morning-line odds of 2-1, but he may be lower by post time.

Imagining comes out of three straight Grade 1 tries, swapping decisions with Real Solution in his last two, and fits well with this group.

The three longshots are O’Prado Ole and Perfect Timber, who have yet to win beyond the allowance level, and War Dancer, who has been keeping weaker company. It is difficult to imagine a scenario under which any of them will beat all three favorites.

That covers six of the seven. The one in between those two groups is Amira’s Prince, and he may be the interesting horse in the race if you’re looking for a little bit of a price without embracing a hopeless longshot. After arriving from Ireland last year, Amira’s Prince reeled off four straight victories.

This year, he is 0 for 3 while twice finishing behind Imagining. Something clearly went amiss last time out when he was a bad sixth as the 9-5 favorite in the Man o’War. Trainer Bill Mott calls the race “a clunker” and freshened him up for this.

If Amira’s Prince can recapture his good form of last year, he’s right there with the favorites and will be a much better price.