08/26/2017 6:24PM

Sadler's Joy takes Sword Dancer with flying finish

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Barbara D. Livingston
Sadler's Joy (#3) swung widest of all into the stretch and swept past his rivals for a half-length victory in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Sadler's Joy had a very slow start in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer on Saturday at Saratoga, but overcame that by using a fast finish to win the 1 1/2-mile turf race by a half-length.

Despite Sadler's Joy's bad beginning, jockey Julien Leparoux sensed the pace up front was realistic and he said he thought his horse had a chance even as they lagged back in last place in the seven-horse field.

Leparoux was correct about the pace as Irish shipper Idaho, the 7-5 favorite, wouldn't relax under jockey Ryan Moore and relentlessly pressed longshot Frank Conversation on the front end. The pair were eyeball to eyeball as they clicked off fractions of 24.42, 49.17, 1:14.19 and 1:38.52.

Sadler's Joy still was last when Leparoux took him outside horses in upper stretch, but he finished fast to run by Money Multiplier, Bigger Picture, and Hunter O'Riley in the closing yards.

"I don't know what happened at the start but he relaxed very nice for me and he came home very fast," Leparoux said. "I think he is a horse that is just getting good, and that you will hear about for the rest of the year."

Owned and bred by Woodslane Farm and trained by Tom Albertrani, Sadler's Joy was the fourth betting choice and paid $16. He completed the course in 2:24.58, closing considerable ground into a 22.68 final quarter-mile.

Sadler's Joy, a 4-year-old son of Kitten's Joy is now five for 12 in his career. The $1 million Sword Dancer was his second graded victory. He won the Grade 2 Pan American at Gulfstream Park on April 1.

In the Grade 2, 1 3/8-mile Bowling Green on July 29, Sadler's Joy looked like a winner when he made a quick move to open a clear lead in upper stretch. He was nailed late in that race by Hunter O'Riley and Bigger Picture.

"He may have moved prematurely in that race," Albertrani said. "I thought his ears kind of went up when he made the lead."

The Sword Dancer is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series and Sadler's Joy earned a fees-paid starting berth in the $4 million BC Turf at Del Mar on Nov. 4. Albertrani said Sadler's Joy could start next in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Sept. 30.

"I could tell Julien was loaded with horse during the race," Albertrani said. "I was just waiting for that big burst. I knew this horse had a lot of potential as early as last year. His kick is tremendous."

Money Multiplier held second by a nose over Bigger Picture, who rallied to his inside. It was another three-quarters of a length back to Hunter O'Riley in fourth. Erupt, who shipped in from France, finished fifth. Pacesetters Idaho and Frank Conversation finished sixth and seventh.