Gufo Defends G1 Sword Dancer Title

August 29, 2022

Soldier Rising Now Multiple G1-Placed

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Otter Bend Stables’ Gufo surged home under jockey Joel Rosario to successfully defend his title in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer Invitational, at Saratoga Race Course.

The son of Declaration of War has won a Grade 1 at the age of 3 [Belmont Derby], 4 [Sword Dancer] and now 5 [Sword Dancer], and has successfully visited the winner’s circle at least once each year dating back to his juvenile season in 2019.

Trainer Christophe Clement had nothing but praise for the hard-knocking horse.

“He’s doing very well this morning,” said Clement. “I was thrilled with the performance. It was a great ride from Joel and he’s a very good horse. Top class.”

The win earned Gufo an automatic spot in the starting gate for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf November 5 at Keeneland. Last year, Gufo used the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park as a final tune-up for the Breeders’ Cup.

Clement was non-committal on where or when Gufo would run next leading up to the Breeders’ Cup, but hinted that another run in the Grade 1 $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on October 8 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet is logical.

“No decisions have been made,” said Clement. “At the moment we’re just enjoying the win. The race in New York makes a lot of sense but we need to think about it.”

The win matched a career-high 104 Beyer Speed Figure, which is the same figure Gufo received in last year’s Sword Dancer victory.

Gufo has now banked just shy of $2 million in earnings and is 9-3-5 in 19 career starts.

Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, Morris Bailey, Wonder Stables and Michael J. Caruso’s Soldier Rising picked up a Grade 1 placing for the second time in his career and the first of this campaign when he rallied to finish third in the Sword Dancer behind stablemate Gufo and Mira Mission.

Even though Soldier Rising has never won a stakes race, he has proven to be extremely competitive against the best in the world. As a sophomore, he competed in two-thirds of the Turf Triple series, finishing second to State of Rest in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby at the Spa and second to Yibir in the Jockey Club Derby downstate at Belmont. State of Rest has since added three Group 1 wins to his resume and Yibir went on to win the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar and was crowned Champion Turf horse.

“He got beat by two very good horses last year. His form has been very, very solid,” Clement said. “As a 4-year-old we’re going one step at a time. I thought he went extremely well yesterday and I was thrilled with the performance. It’s too quick to know where we are going [next]. I’m not surprised. A lot of people were surprised. I’ve always thought he was a top-class horse. I just had to bring him along one step at a time.”

The third-place finish earned Soldier Rising a career-high 103 Beyer Speed Figure, which is also the first time he earned a triple digit score.

Only finishing off the board once in 13 career starts between North America and France, the gelded son of Frankel boasts a record of 4-5-3 and nearly $700,000 in earnings.

NYRA Press Office

Photo: Gufo wins the Grade 1 Sword Dancer (Janet Garaguso)

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