December 9, 2022

Tribhuvan could have company up front in Sword Dancer

Tribhuvan winning the United Nations Stakes (Photo by Nikki Sherman/EQUI-PHOTO)

Sword Dancer S. (G1) — Race 11 (5:25 p.m. ET)

Tribhuvan has emerged this season as a turf performer of major stature for trainer Chad Brown. On Saturday, the French-bred gelding will look to confirm a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) in November if he can outrun six rivals in the $750,000 Sword Dancer S. (G1) at Saratoga.

The five-year-old will attempt to stretch his speed over 1 1/2 miles breaking from post 1 under Flavien Prat. In three starts this season, Tribhuvan has captured the Fort Marcy (G3) and United Nations (G1) in gate-to-wire fashion, and also held second in the Manhattan (G1) after the hot pace he set benefited stablemate Domestic Spending.

“He surprised me that he’s turned into the front-running horse that he is now,” Brown said. “We’ve gone on with it and he’s changed since we gelded him as well. He’s developing beyond my expectations and I’m really proud of the horse.”

Despite a dull effort in last month’s Bowling Green (G2) in his return from a four-month layoff, Channel Maker is capable of giving Tribhuvan fits through the opening furlongs. Last year’s champion turf male dominated last year’s Sword Dancer on the front end, and also captured the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1). However, he’s 0-for-3 this year, including two ventures in the Middle East last winter.

The lone European invader in the field is Japan. A multiple Group 1 winner in 2019 for Ballydoyle, the son of Galileo has not run up to that class since then. However, he’s scored twice at Grade 3 level this season, taking the Ormonde (G3) at Chester and the Meld (G3) at Leopardstown.

The 2020 Sword Dancer runner-up, Cross Border, captured the Bowling Green last out over Rockemperor, while Grade 1 veteran Gufo responded well to the addition of blinkers last time by taking the Grand Couturier S. at Belmont by one length. The field is rounded out by Moretti, a distance specialist on the main track.

Ballston Spa S. (G2) — Race 4 (1:17 p.m. ET)

The graded stakes action Saturday kicks off with the $400,000 Ballston Spa S. (G2), a 1 1/16-mile grass test for fillies and mares. Viadera, the 2020 Matriarch (G1) and Noble Damsel (G3) winner, will attempt to get back into the win column after dropping her season debut in the Aug. 8 De La Rose S., in which she finished fourth as the 6-5 favorite.

Kalifornia Queen enters off a close second-place effort in the Matchmaker (G3), while graded performers Tamahere and New York Girl look to rebound off recent losses in allowance company.