A field of 10 will line up in Saturday’s $1 million Sword Dancer (G1) and we will look to be happy by backing the Todd Pletcher trainee Hi Happy in the 1 ½ mile event.
Pletcher has not exactly been happy with his meeting so far, a distant second to Chad Brown in the trainer standings with 16 winners and winning at just a 16% clip, low by his lofty standards.
He sends out runners in seven races on the 13-race Travers Day card including Hi Happy (6-1) in the Sword Dancer, the six-year-old coming off a subpar effort in a sixth-place finish in the Bowling Green (G2) which was contested over soft ground he did not seem to care for.
“He just didn’t run his race last time on the soft turf. There’s a little rain coming but we just feel like he ran an off race and didn’t care for the course,” Pletcher said. “If you put a line over his last race, he’s been really very good and very consistent. The ground was against him that day.”
The winner of the race stamps a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) as part of the Win and You’re In” series of races. There are four Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on the card and one at Del Mar.
Sadlers’ Joy is the 7-2 morning line favorite in the Sword Dancer and the defending champion. The Tom Albertrani trainee made a good late rally to finish third in the Bowling Green, beaten a half-length for the top spot. Channel Marker and Glorious Empire landed in a deadheat and they are both back in this spot.
“He’s coming into the race looking fantastic and training as well as he’s ever trained all year round. He’s just been a little unlucky,” Albertrani said. “It’s just been a couple of tough beats, but the horse shows up. He’s there every time and hopefully we encounter a good trip and he comes back and runs the same race he has been.”
The Sword Dancer will be televised live on NBC during a two-hour telecast that gets underway at 4:00 et.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my 10 strongest plays from Del Mar and Saratoga.
Let’s head out to Saratoga for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Saratoga Race 10 The Sword Dancer G1 (Post time 4:49 ET)
#4 Hi Happy 6-1
#10 Sadler’s Joy 7-2
#6 Bigger Picture 8-1
#2 Spring Quality 4-1
Analysis: Hi Happy was my top pick in the Bowling Green (G2) last out and six exit that race which was contested over soft ground. The Pletcher trainee tracked the early pace and tired to finish sixth, beaten eight lengths. It did not appear he liked the ground and I’ll toss it and look for a better effort here from a guy that won 7 of his first 11 starts on turf. He won the Man o’ War (G1) three back at 1 3/8 miles and won the 1 1/2 mile Pan American (G2) four back at Gulfstream Park with a career top speed fig. He should get a good tracking trip sitting just off the pace and the 6-1 morning line looks more than fair.
Sadler’s Joy seldom runs a bad one and just needs pace and a trip to be right there at the wire. He too exits the Bowling Green where he came with a five wide rally and was beaten just a half-length while third. He has won three times at 1 1/2 miles including in this race last year at 7-1. There is enough early pace signed up to go her to set things up for him.
Bigger Picture raced last early in the Bowling Green and came with a mild late bid to finish fourth, beaten a length for the top spot. he rallied to finish third two back in the United Nations, beaten two lengths by Funtastic. He won the UN last summer and after missing in the Bowling Green he was third in this race, beaten a half-length at 8-1. He makes his third start of his current form cycle and the Maker trainee offers decent value in here if he goes off near his 8-1 morning line. He owns triple digit Beyers in 8 of his last 11 outings.
WIN: #4 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 4,10 / 2,4,6,10
TRI: 4,10 / 2,4,6,10 / 2,3,4,6,10