Is Flintshire a Single in the Sword Dancer?
Is Flintshire a Single in the Sword Dancer? by Reinier Macatangay: Six brave horses are lined up to face world-class turf runner Flintshire in the $1 million Sword Dancer Stakes (GI) at 1 1/2 miles on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course, and at first glance people might wonder why. Why face another defeat at the hands of a horse who looks invincible compared to most American turf horses?
Trained by Chad Brown, the 6-year-old Flintshire has kept his winning ways for Juddmonte Farms since making North America his new base at the start of this year. Surprisingly, neither of his wins counted as a “Win and You’re In” credit towards the Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) at Santa Anita Park, but the Sword Dancer, should he win, would earn him an automatic, fees-paid berth into the November race.
Flintshire’s first 2016 win came in the Manhattan Stakes (GI) at Belmont Park on June 11, and if any doubt existed over whether his form would decline under Brown, Flintshire erased all doubts with a professional win closing off a slow pace. It was also the first time he used Lasix and had an American jockey in Javier Castellano.
Castellano remained on board for the Bowling Green Stakes (GII) earlier in the Saratoga meet, and the pair won again against three other horses. The final margin ended up as less than a length, but small margins do not matter as much in turf racing.
From a speed figure standpoint, TimeformUS has given Flintshire a 129 and 127 for his two 2016 wins, so he dominates in this category as well. The other contenders in this race top out around 120.
This horse appears invincible.
Brown was thankful in his press release comments that Flintshire continued to thrive in his barn after years of finding success under Andre Fabre’s care.
“He’s settled in nicely and, fortunately, he’s taken to our program like the class horse he is,” Brown said.
“He came to us in outstanding condition from Andre Fabre. He had been managed by both Mr. Fabre and Juddmonte so well, that’s why we have a horse at age 6 that’s still at the top of his game.”
Is that it then? Just single Flintshire and be done with it, most handicappers will reason.
Well, horse racing is still horse racing, and strange things happen.
If a miracle upset occurs, it likely will not come from the rail horse Grand Tito, who squandered a slowpoke pace in the Bowling Green to eventually lose to Flintshire. Cross him out of consideration.
From the third post, the Michael Maker-trained Roman Approval attempts to improve upon his runner-up finish in an Aug. 5 local allowance race. He seems slightly more probable to run a good race than Grand Tito.
Twilight Eclipse starts from post four, and as a 7-year-old gelding it feels unlikely any improvement will happen. Even if he runs his best race, a second or third-place finish is the limit.
Cross out Flintshire’s stablemate Inordinate. On paper, it appears Brown possibly entered the horse to make sure the race had at least a few challengers, no matter how weak.
Eliminate Applicator from the outside post for the same class reason as well.
This leaves Brown’s third entrant Money Multiplier, who breaks from the second post. As a 4-year-old ridgling, there is room for Money Multiplier to progress forward, and he owns Grade I placings already in the United Nations Stakes (GI) and Man o’War (GI). Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. is a patient rider who will make a timed move.
Flintshire is by far the most probable winner of the Sword Dancer, but if gambling was easy, no one reading this would need a regular job. Both Flintshire and Money Multiplier deserve spots on a horizontal ticket, and if Flintshire wins this “Win and You’re In” event, well, no harm is done since the ticket moves on to the next leg anyway.
Longines Sword Dancer Stakes 2016 Post Positions & Odds
Race 10 4:49 p.m. ET
1 Grand Tito 8-1 Ortiz/Delgado
2 Money Multiplier 8-1 Ortiz, Jr./Brown
3 Roman Approval 20-1 Geroux/Maker
4 Twilight Eclipse 10-1 Velazquez/Albertrani
5 Inordinate 30-1 Gryder/Brown
6 Flintshire 1-5 Castellano/Brown
7 Applicator 30-1 Reyes/Yanakov