Updated on 09/17/2011 12:09PM

Ballingarry can stay route

Denon, beaten a head in the 2002 Sword Dancer, is this year's highweight.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Though next Saturday's Arlington Million offers twice the purse and arguably better ground, Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational offers an extra two furlongs that supersede money.

For the California-based trainer Laura de Seroux, those furlongs meant shipping Ballingarry to Saratoga rather than back to Arlington Park where Ballingarry won last month's Stars and Stripes Handicap, the traditional prep for the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million.

Ballingarry will break from post 9 under John Velazquez in the Sword Dancer.

"I think there is quite a difference between the turn of foot you need for a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half,' de Seroux said. "He's more suited to a mile and a half.'

Apparently, so are many others. The Sword Dancer drew a full field of 14 turf runners plus one main track only entrant. The starters include two-time defending Sword Dancer winner With Anticipation and two fillies, Mariensky and the German-bred Meridiana.

Denon, who finished a head behind With Anticipation in last year's Sword Dancer, is this year's starting highweight at 122 pounds. Since he is backed by the high-profile connections of trainer Bobby Frankel and jockey Jerry Bailey, Denon may be favored. But, having drawn post 13 in this wide-open three-turn race, he is certainly no lock.

Ballingarry, who raced competitively with champion High Chaparral in Europe last year, won the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine last September. Two transatlantic flights in the month leading up to the Breeders' Cup Turf left Ballingarry empty for that race, in which he finished seventh.

Ballingarry began his 4-year-old campaign with a seventh-place finish in the Arcadia Handicap, followed by a third-place finish behind Storming Home - regarded as North America's top grass horse - in the Jim Murray Handicap. He then won the Stars and Stripes by a half-length over Dr. Brendler.

"The Arcadia was just getting a race back into him," de Seroux said. "I wasn't unhappy with the race at all; I didn't have him wound up enough to win. He came back with a bang-up race in the Jim Murray even though the hard turf courses were bugging his feet a little bit. Ever since then, he's just been coming forward in leaps and bounds physically.'

De Seroux said the soft ground of Saratoga's saturated turf course should suit Ballingarry well.

Denon won the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap over a bog at Belmont in June. He finished fifth, beaten only a length by Balto Star, in the United Nations Handicap when he was caught in tight along the rail.

"He had no place to go when he wanted to run,' Frankel said. "He doesn't have that great a turn of foot, so when they quickened he couldn't keep up with them.'

The value play in the Sword Dancer could be Lunar Sovereign, who had to rally four wide when finishing third, beaten a half-length in the United Nations. Jockey Richard Migliore, who was riding Lunar Sovereign for the first time, was hoping for a pace duel to develop between Balto Star and The Tin Man, but it never happened and Balto Star led gate to wire. Lunar Sovereign was far back and between horses down the backstretch and was forced to rally wide.

"Had we stayed on the inside and not lost the ground we wouldn't have gotten there anyway,' trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "He'll put him more in a forward position if there's no other pace.'

The speedy Balto Star figures to use post 1 to his advantage as he did wiring the field in the United Nations. Trainer Todd Pletcher is concerned how he'll handle soft turf.

Dr. Brendler has excelled over soft ground this year, upsetting the Citgo Dixie Handicap at Pimlico and placing in both the Manhattan and Stars and Stripes. Mark Guidry has picked up the mount.

Whitmore's Conn, Quest Star, and Macaw, who all finished within a half-length of each other in the Bowling Green at Belmont, are also entered here.