March 28, 2023

Familiar faces bid for BC Turf spot in Sword Dancer

Channel Maker
Channel Maker wins the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (Coglianese Photos/Joe Labozzetta)

Sword Dancer S. (G1) — Race 10 (5:05 p.m. ET)

Former grass champion Channel Maker will look to stamp his ticket for a fifth trip to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) in Saturday’s $750,000 Sword Dancer S. (G1), a part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.

Although Channel Maker’s best finish in the Turf was a third in 2020, the year he won the Eclipse Award as leading turf male, the eight-year-old has enjoyed more success in the 1 1/2-mile Sword Dancer. This will be his fifth run in the race, which he won two years ago by a large margin over soft ground. The Bill Mott trainee has won both attempts over 12 panels this season, including the Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland and Grand Couturier S. at Belmont.

“We gave him a vacation and started him back at Keeneland and he won and we’ve been running him every month, six weeks, whenever a race comes up,” Mott said. “The competition is going to be a little deeper here.”

The competition includes 2021 Sword Dancer winner Gufo, who adds blinkers Saturday after finishing behind Adhamo and Tribhuvan in both the United Nations (G1) and Manhattan (G1) in his last two.

“The last two starts perhaps he was a bit further back than ideal so we just put a pair of blinkers to help out Joel (Rosario),” said trainer Christophe Clement, who also sends out Grand Couturier runner-up Soldier Rising.

Besides Adhamo and Tribhuvan, trainer Chad Brown will also be represented by Grade 1 veteran Rockemperor, recent winner of the Bowling Green (G2). The lone foreign invader in the Sword Dancer is Group 1 winner Broome, a close second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last season and hero of the Hardwicke (G2) at Royal Ascot two back.

The $400,000 Ballston Spa S. (G2) for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf came up light on numbers with five entered, three of which hail from the Chad Brown barn. Last-out Diana (G1) runner-up Technical Analysis is joined by fellow graded-winning stablemates Lemista and Fluffy Socks, recently one-two in the Matchmaker (G3).