Image for Brian Zipse Brian Zipse - October 14, 2022

Sword Dancer Predictions, Expert Picks, Odds (Saratoga)

Sword Dancer Predictions
If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Gufo (4/1)

Brian Zipse

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Sword Dancer Post Position and Odds

Check out our predictions and odds for the Sword Dancer at Saratoga!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 TRIBHUVAN 5/2
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F Prat C Brown
2 GUFO 4/1
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J Rosario C Clement
3 ROCKEMPEROR 6/1
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I Ortiz Jr C Brown
4 CHANNEL MAKER 8/1
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M Franco W Mott
5 MORETTI 12/1
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J Ortiz T Pletcher
6 JAPAN 3/1
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R Moore A O’Brien
7 CROSS BORDER 4/1
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L Saez M Maker

Tribhuvan, from the powerful turf barn of Chad Brown, could be the top choice off a wire-to-wire win in the Grade 1 United Nations last time, but the competition will be plentiful going 12 furlongs on the turf in Saturday’s Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga.

Chief among his rivals will be the European invader, Japan. Trained by Aiden O’Brien, the son of Galileo was a multiple Group 1 winner in 2019, and has won two Group 3 stakes this season in England and Ireland.

The late run of Gufo is always a threat, and the 4-year-old will be making his second start with blinkers on. Last out, he returned to his winning ways in the $150,000 Grand Couturier on July 5 at Belmont. A grade 1 winner last year, he just missed in his only previous start at the Spa, finishing second in the 2020 Saratoga Derby

As the ‘horse for the course’, Cross Border will also merit strong consideration. A 7-year-old New York-bred son of the English Channel, he has a sparkling record of 7-6-1-0 on the grass at Saratoga, including a win in the Grade 2 Bowling Green four weeks ago.

One of the many big races on Saratoga’s Travers day card, the Sword Dancer is a “Win and You’re In” qualifying race for the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf on November 6 at Del Mar.

Best Bets for the Sword Dancer

Here are my plays ($50 in total)

$50 Win – Gufo  = $50

Top Pick:

Gufo (4/1)

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How to Watch the Sword Dancer

Sword Dancer Race Information
Race Sword Dancer (Grade 1)
Location Saratoga
Time Saturday, August 28 — 5:25 pm Eastern time
How to Watch Fox Sports 1
Purse $750,000

Race Analysis

Tribhuvan

One of two from the top turf trainer in the nation, Chad Brown, this French import has really come around at the age of 5. Allowed to freewheel on the front end this year, he has become one of the more dangerous turf horses in America, with two wins and a second in important turf stakes on the East Coast. This will mark his first try at Saratoga, but drawn the rail, he will once again be the horse they all have to catch. There are a few in here that could force him to run faster early than he did last time when winning the Grade 1 United Nations, but still he looks like a good bet to be leading when they turn for home. He could take them all the way again, but I am going to take a shot to beat him here.

Japan

There is plenty of back class with this English-bred from the powerhouse barn of Aiden O’Brien. He was one of the best sophomores in Europe two years ago, but was unable to find the winner’s circle in five attempts last year as a 4-year-old. This year, he has won twice in four attempts overseas. The wins prove he is still a horse of class, but they also came in the two easier races in which he competed in 2021. You always have to watch out for the overall class of good Europeans coming over to America, but I just don’t believe he is as good as he once was. Still, though, he is a threat.

Gufo


After winning four straight on the grass last year, this late running chestnut has found things just a little more difficult since moving into the highest class of American turf racing. In fact, the winning streak ended when he just missed getting up in last summer’s Grade 1 Saratoga Derby. The loss by a head to Domestic Spending, though, is like so many races, where he is really motoring down the lane impressively. The Grade 1 winner broke a three-race losing streak last time when he added blinkers and dropped in class. The win should be good for the confidence and came at the 12-furlong trip. With enough pace in here to set the table, I think this race sets up well for him. He is the top pick.

Cross Border

It’s hard to argue with what this New York-bred has been able to accomplish on the Saratoga turf. He has good tactical speed and he clearly loves his surroundings at the Upstate New York oval. At his best, he can do big things as evidenced by last month’s win in the Grade 2 Bowling Green. Conditioned by the leading trainer of the meet, Mike Maker, there is every reason to believe this veteran can run another strong race on Saturday. He is not my top pick, but he is clearly a big threat to earn his first career Grade 1 victory.

Rockemperor

The second from the Brown barn, this Irish-bred has often teased American race fans with performances good enough to believe that he can someday breakthrough and win something big. It hasn’t happened yet for the son of Holy Roman Emperor, and despite his solid recent form, including a rallying second in the Bowling Green, I don’t expect this to be the day for his first stakes win in the United States.

Channel Maker

Last year’s easy winner of the Sword Dancer has proven himself a very classy horse at times, but you never know for sure if he is going to come with his best effort. After a good effort to start the year in Saudi Arabia, his last two, one in Dubai and then a return in the Bowling Green, have not been great. It would not surprise me if he woke up again on Saturday, in his second race off the layoff, but even so, I think this is a tough spot for the 7-year-old.

Moretti

This son of Medaglia d’Oro will be making his first career start on the turf after 14 races on the main track. He has made a home for himself running in distance races, but has never been able to break through against top competition. We know he can handle the distance, and he has some turf pedigree, but this looks like an awfully difficult place to make your first-ever start on the grass.

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Image for Brian Zipse

AUTHOR

Brian Zipse

219 Articles

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]

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