HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Woodslane Farm’s homebred Sadler’s Joy made his career graded-stakes debut in the 2017 W. L. McKnight at Gulfstream Park, and 27 graded-stakes starts later, the Tom Albertrani turf warrior is still going strong.
The resilient 8-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy is scheduled to make his 2021 return to Gulfstream Park for the $125,000 W. L. McKnight (G3) on Saturday’s 12-race program that will be co-headlined by the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1).
“He’s training great. He’s been very feisty lately, like he always is,” trainer Tom Albertrani said. “He’s not showing any signs of wear and tear, that’s for sure.”
Sadler’s Joy finished second by a quickly diminishing margin of a head in the 2017 McKnight and came right back to capture his first graded-stakes victory in the Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream before going on to capture the Sword Dancer (G1) at Saratoga later that year.
In 27 graded-stakes races, Sadler’s Joy has finished in the money 18 times and finished fourth six more times.
“He’s a tough horse to place because of his running style. He likes to come from out the back. It’s always a matter of getting a good trip and getting the right pace,” Albertrani said. “Sometimes all that doesn’t work out, but he always comes with a late run and has been always right there in all his races.”
Sadler’s Joy started in last year’s Pegasus World Cup Turf, only to have his chances at victory wiped out while being bumped back to last after breaking from the gate. He battled back to finish sixth, beaten two heads for fourth.
“That was only a mile and three-sixteenths, so the distance was against him overcoming the bad start at the break,” Albertrani said. “He still came with a run, like he always does.”
The 1 ½-mile distance of the McKnight should be far more suitable for Sadler’s Joy, who has amassed earnings of more than $2.6 million.
Albertrani, who is also scheduled to saddle German-bred Tintoretto for the McKnight, has named Jose Ortiz to ride Sadler’s Joy.
Stronach Stables’ Sir Sahib, who closed with a rush to finish second in the 1 ½-mile Northern Dancer (G1) at Woodbine; Joseph Allen LL’s Doswell, who finished a fast-closing second behind Largent in the 1 1/8-mile Fort Lauderdale (G2) over the Gulfstream Park turf; and Calumet Farm’s Channel Cat, a veteran graded-stakes performer who finished off the board in last year’s Pegasus Turf, are among the top contenders in the 11-horse McKnight field.
The McKnight, carded as Race 10, will be preceded by two other turf stakes on the card with seven graded stakes – the $125,000 Marshua’s River (G3), a mile turf race for older fillies and mares in Race 7; and the $125,000 La Prevoyante (G3), a 1 ½-mile turf stakes for older fillies and mares in Race 8..
Sackatoga Stable’s Niko’s Dream and Al Shaqab Racing’s Tuned, who finished first and second, respectively, in the Dec. 12 My Charmer at Gulfstream, and Heider Family Stable LLC’s Zofelle, a Brendan Walsh-trained Irish-bred who raced against Grade 1 company last time out; are among the more prominent entries for the Marshua’s River, which is carded as Race 7.
Repole Stable’s Always Shopping, who captured the Dec. 19 Via Borghese by three lengths at Gulfstream; Ivan Dalos’ Court Return, a close second in the E. P. Taylor (G1) at Woodbine before disappointing in the Via Borghese; and Gary Barber and John Oxley’s Heavenly Curlin, winner of the Nov. 7 Maple Leaf (G3) on Woodbine’s synthetic surface; are prominent contenders in a field of 12 for the La Prevoyante.
Photo Credit: Chelsea Durand