By Brian Bohl
Photo: Chelsea Durand
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Woodslane Farm’s Sadler’s Joy stayed off the pace and rallied late with a strong move from the outside to earn his first win since March 2018, outkicking Red Knight by two lengths to capture the 60th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Red Smith for 3-year-olds and up on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Sadler’s Joy, entering off consecutive on-the-board finishes against Grade 1 competition, won for the first time in 11 starts under a patient ride from Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano.
Multiple graded stakes-winner Glorious Empire led the 11-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in 24.43 seconds and the half in 48.59 on the inner turf labeled good, with Sadler’s Joy, trained by Tom Albertrani, saving ground in eighth position.
Out of the final turn, Castellano, bidding for his third win of the day, urged 6-5 favorite Sadler’s Joy, who responded by surging from six-wide to pick off competitors one-by-one and take command near the eighth pole.
Red Knight made a late bid in deep stretch, but Sadler’s Joy completed 1 3/8 miles in a 2:15.76 final time, earning his first win since the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida in March 2018 at Gulfstream Park.
“He’s a great horse. I’m very proud of him,” Castellano said. “I know the horse. I know the way you’re supposed to ride the horse. I was fortunate just to enjoy the ride today. I give the credit to Tom. He knows the horse so well and I think he’s matured so much this year. The way he did it today was very impressive.
“He’s doing so well, timing his run didn’t matter today,” he added. “Sometimes you move too soon and he hangs, or somebody gets the jump on him and he finishes second. He’s had all the excuses in the world but today he didn’t, he got it done.”
Sadler’s Joy earned his fourth career graded stakes win, returning $4.70 on a $2 win wager according to equibase. The son of Kitten’s Joy registered his first win in four starts in his 6-year-old campaign, having come within a neck of Annals of Time in a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer on August 24 at Saratoga Race Course and third, a half-length behind winner Arklow, in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on October 5 at Belmont last out.
“That’s really the way he likes to be ridden,” Albertrani said. “He likes to be farther back and make a big swinging run and close. That’s his best style of running and he had a lot of horse to do it today. He came with a lot of determination down the lane. He wasn’t waiting on anyone today.
“I could see he was really running at the half mile pole,” he continued. “I wasn’t too worried when he came wide there. Everything worked out well. The pace was a little slow at the beginning which was a concern, but he was just much the best.”
Sadler’s Joy improved to 7-4-7 in 26 career starts and increased his career earnings to more than $2.47 million.
“He’s been better this year as a 6-year-old than he has been at four or five,” Albertrani said. “He has plenty of energy still left in the tank. I love having an older horse like him in the barn. Twilight Eclipse was 9 years old and still running strong. I would love to keep him as long as that, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep him that long. I’ve been really fortunate to have them around for a while.”
The Grade 1, $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf, the richest North American turf race, on January 25 at Gulfstream Park could be the next spot for Sadler’s Joy, though the Dubai Sheema Classic might be a better spot, Albertrani said.
“We always felt the [Pegasus Would Cup Turf] might be a little short for him distance wise but we’re really looking at getting him to Dubai in March for the Sheema Classic” Albertrani said. “That’s what we intend to do whether he run at Gulfstream once before then or not. I just have to see how he trains up to the race. The owners are really looking to stand him next year after his last race, whether it’s Dubai or not. We haven’t made that decision yet.”
Red Knight, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, finished 1 ½ lengths clear of Dot Matrix for second.
Postulation, Nakamura, Have At It, Tiz a Slam, Marzo, Petit Fils, Red Right Hand and Glorious Empire completed the order of finish. Zumurudee, Mokheef, Backsideofthemoon, Bon Raison and Dynamax Prime were scratched.
Live race resumes Sunday at the Big A with a nine-race card headlined by the New York Stallion Stakes Series Thunder Rumble in Race 8. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.