2021 Sword Dancer Stakes Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content
By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)
1. TRIBHUVAN (2-1) – Gelded prior to commencing his 2021 campaign, he’s advanced rapidly up the division rankings, with only stablemate Domestic Spending able to stop him after three starts. Simply ran away from his rivals in the Fort Marcy (G3) and United Nations (G1), which might be a more difficult thing to pull off here, given the presence of other speed. But is sure to try sneaking away from post 1, and recent form obviously merits his early favoritism here. The only other worry is that he hasn’t yet established a true ability to stay 1 1/2 miles. It’s only a furlong more than the UN, but again the pace scenario figures to be different. Food for thought when considering taking a short price.
2. GUFO (3-1) – Addition of blinkers last time seemed to do the trick, to an extent. After lagging too far behind in the Man o’ War (G1) and Manhattan (G1), he at least stayed within striking distance against lesser. That said, it would have been difficult for him not to given how pedestrian that pace was. The effort proved more workmanlike than flashy, but again that was probably a function of the pace. The set-up here could be more to his liking with several speed elements signed on, he’s proven over the distance, and remains one of the classier members of the division on this circuit.
3. ROCKEMPEROR (6-1) – Eleven times second and third compared to three wins lifetime, and hard to ignore that his only victory since his importation two summers ago was a second-level allowance in late June. That said, he’s run some real good races at or near this level, though he might be better suited to 1 1/4 miles than this distance. Perhaps still has a graded stakes win with his name on it out there, but inclined to endorse for the lower rungs of the exotics here.
4. CHANNEL MAKER (8-1) – Reigning grass champion appears to need the lead to be his most effective. As noted, there’s other speed signed on here, thus a repeat of his dominating performance in the 2020 renewal seems unlikely. While no disgrace being eight lengths inferior to a horse like Mishriff, and likely in need of his recent comeback in the Bowling Green (G2), not a fan of the trajectory his form has taken off an Eclipse Award-winning campaign.
5. MORETTI (15-1) – Distance sure won’t be an issue after victories going 1 3/8 miles and 1 3/4 miles last season. However, he’s diving into very deep waters attempting to beat a field like this in his first turf attempt. Would get most of any affection for the surface via his male side. Sire Medaglia d’Oro, by noted turf influence El Prado, has gotten some decent grass runners like Talismanic, Mshawish, and Marketing Mix. Hard to endorse overall.
6. JAPAN (9-2) – One of the better three-year-olds in 2019 when he won several Group 1s and placed a strong fourth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) over ground that proved too deep even for Enable. However, his output over the last season and a half has not been up to that standard. Indeed, his recent form suggests he possess no inherent class edge over his American counterparts, which is often the case with imports raiding from Europe. Drops 20 pounds off a hard-fought Group 3 win last time, but willing to stand against with reasonably strong backing in the wagering expected.
7. CROSS BORDER (4-1) – If this were any other track his general chances would, arguably, be lessened. Given this is at Saratoga, where’s he’s 6-for-7, this veteran gelding is worthy of respect. His only setback here came in the 2020 edition of this race, when Channel Maker walked over a deep surface. This one seems to be going the better of the two now, and should be able to work out a trip similar to the one that produced a mild 6-1 upset in his successful Bowling Green title defense.