Gufo rallies to impressive victory in G1 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer

August 28, 2021

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Otter Bend Stables’ Gufo sat a patient trip under Joel Rosario before taking command at the stretch call and staving off the late charge of Japan to capture Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer, a 1 1/2-mile inner-turf stamina test for older horses at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Christophe Clement, the 4-year-old Declaration of War colt secured his third graded win following scores last year in the Grade 3 Kent at Delaware Park and the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational. In victory, Gufo earned a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in November at Del Mar.

Channel Maker, who won last year’s edition, made his fourth consecutive Sword Dancer appearance, setting the pace under Manny Franco through splits of 23.38, 48.59, 1:14.42 and 1:39.16 on the firm turf with Tribhuvan saving ground along the hedge in second.

Gufo, last-of-7 and saving ground first time past the wire, advanced inside rivals down the backstretch, angling between Japan and Cross Border through the final turn and rallying outside of Tribhuvan and Channel Maker en route to victory by a neck in a final time of 2:28.30.

It was the third Sword Dancer score for Clement, who won previously with Honor Glide [1999] and Winchester [2011].

“I am delighted with this horse and the way he ran today. He is a top-class horse. He’s always been a top-class horse,” Clement said. “A mile-and-a-quarter, a mile-and-a-half, it really doesn’t matter for him. I am delighted to win this race. The race set up perfect. There was plenty of pace. The stable has been lucky [winning] that way this year. This is fun, and it’s the kind of race we like to win.”

Rosario, who won the Grade 2 Ballston Spa with Viadera and Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial with Jackie’s Warrior earlier on the card, said he was pleased with the stiff pace.

“I had a very good trip. It looked like they went nice and firm,” Rosario said. “It was a nice pace and on the backside, I was just moving nicely with my horse and decided to be where I was. He ran a really good race today and turning for home, it was just a really good performance.”

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Japan, who posted consecutive Group 1 wins in 2019 in the 12-furlong Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp and the 1 5/16-mile Juddmonte International at York, demonstrated a strong turn-of-foot under jockey Ryan Moore to complete the exacta, 3 1/2-lengths clear of New York-bred horse-for-course Cross Border.

“He ran very well today. I was pleased with it,” Moore said.

Luis Saez said he was proud of the effort by Cross Border, a six-time winner on the Saratoga turf.

“I was pretty excited about how he ran. It was a beautiful race,” Saez said. “He always tries. Of course, today was a tough race, but he tried anyway.” 

Rounding out the order of finish were the Chad Brown-trained stablemates Rockemperor and Tribhuvan, followed by Channel Maker and Moretti.

Gufo has made three of his four starts this season in Grade 1 company, beginning with a nose loss to Channel Cat in the Man o’ War in May at Belmont and a closing third in the Manhattan in June. Last out, Gufo found class relief by capturing the $150,000 Grand Couturier traveling 1 1/2 miles on July 5 at Belmont.

Bred in Kentucky by John Little and Stephen Cainelli, Gufo banked $400,000 in victory while improving his record 12-7-2-3. He returned $7.10 for a $2 win ticket.

Live racing resumes Sunday at Saratoga with a 10-race card featuring the $120,000 Better Talk Now, a one-mile inner-turf test for sophomores who have not won a stakes at one mile or over. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

Saratoga Race Course Press Release

Photo: Gufo, (NYRA Photo)

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