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Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap

Grade 1 race
Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap
Location Saratoga Race Course
Saratoga Springs, New York, United States
Inaugurated 1975
Race type Thoroughbred - Flat racing
Website www.nyra.com
Race information
Distance 1½ miles (12 furlongs)
Track Grass, left-handed
Qualification Three-year-olds & up
Weight Assigned
Purse $500,000

The Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap is an American race for thoroughbred horses, aged three and up, run annually in mid August at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. An important prep for the Breeders' Cup Turf, it is set at a distance of one and one-half miles (12 furlongs) on the turf. A Grade I event, the race offers a purse of $500,000.

The Sword Dancer is named for the best three-year-old colt or gelding of 1959, best three-year-old, best handicap horse, and the American Horse of the Year. Sword Dancer was elected to the United States Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York in 1977.

The event was inaugurated at Aqueduct Racetrack in 1975 as a six furlong sprint on dirt for three-year-old horses. Beginning in 1977, it was hosted by Belmont Park then in 1992 was moved to the Saratoga Race Course. Since inception, the Sword Dancer has been contested at various distances:

  • 6 furlongs : 1975-1976 (on dirt)
  • 8.5 furlongs (1 1/16 miles) : 1977-1979
  • 12 furlongs (1½ miles) : 1980–present (on turf)

The race has been run as an Invitational Handicap since 1994.

In 2000, nine-year-old John's Call became the oldest horse to win this race.


Speed record: (at current distance of 1½ miles)

  • 2:23.20 - Awad (1997)

Most wins:

  • 2 - El Senor (1989, 1990)
  • 2 - With Anticipation (2001, 2002)
  • 2 - Grand Couturier (2007, 2008)

Most wins by an owner:

  • 2 - John DeWitt Marsh (1983, 1984)
  • 2 - Augustin Stable (2001, 2002)
  • 2 - Marc Keller (2007, 2008)

Most wins by a jockey:

Most wins by a trainer:








2009 Telling 5 Javier Castellano Steve Hobby Alex & JoAnn Lieblong 2:25.43
2008 Grand Couturier 5 Alan Garcia Robert Ribaudo Marc Keller 2:32.21
2007 Grand Couturier 4 Calvin Borel Robert Ribaudo Marc Keller 2:26.59
2006 Go Deputy 6 Eibar Coa Todd Pletcher Wertheimer et Frere 2:26.78
2005 King's Drama 5 Jorge Chavez Robert J. Frankel Gary A. Tanaka 2:27.38
2004 Better Talk Now 5 Ramon Dominguez H. Graham Motion Bushwood Stables 2:28.49
2003 Whitmore's Conn 5 Jean-Luc Samyn Randy Schulhofer Michael & Lynn Shanley 2:28.14
2002 With Anticipation 7 Pat Day Jonathan Sheppard Augustin Stable 2:24.06
2001 With Anticipation 6 Pat Day Jonathan Sheppard Augustin Stable 2:26.41
2000 John's Call 9 Jean-Luc Samyn Thomas H. Voss Trillium Stable 2:32.17
1999 Honor Glide 5 Jose Santos Christophe Clement Robert G. Schaedle 2:28.23
1998 Cetewayo 4 John Velazquez Michael Dickinson John A. Chandler 2:29.56
1997 Awad 7 Pat Day David G. Donk Ryehill Farm 2:23.20
1996 Broadway Flyer 5 Mike E. Smith William I. Mott Sultan & Bienstock 2:32.08
1995 Kiri's Clown 6 Mike Luzzi Philip G. Johnson Cobble View Stable 2:25.08
1994 Alex The Great 5 Pat Valenzuela Rodney Rash Vistas Stables 2:28.66
1993 Spectacular Tide 4 Julie Krone Stanley M. Hough Royal Lines Stable 2:30.39
1992 Fraise 4 Jerry Bailey William I. Mott Madeleine Paulson 2:25.88
1991 Dr. Root 4 Jean-Luc Samyn Vincent L. Blengs Barry K. Schwartz 2:25.43
1990 El Senor 6 Angel Cordero, Jr. William W. Wright William W. Wright 2:28.00
1989 El Senor 5 Herb McCauley William W. Wright Frances W. Luro 2:27.00
1988 Anka Germania 6 Craig Perret Tom Skiffington Fernwood Stable 2:32.20
1987 Theatrical 5 Randy Romero William I. Mott Bertram R. Firestone 2:26.00
1986 Southern Sultan 5 Robbie Davis Ross Pearce Buckland Farm 2:39.60
1985 Tri For Size 4 Robert Thibeau, Jr. Michael Sedlacek Rory Green Stable 2:33.20
1984 Majesty's Prince 5 Eddie Maple Joseph B. Cantey John DeWitt Marsh 2:31.00
1983 Majesty's Prince 4 Eddie Maple Joseph B. Cantey John DeWitt Marsh 2:34.40
1982 Lemhi Gold 4 Chris McCarron Lazaro S. Barrera Aaron U. Jones 2:26.00
1981 John Henry 6 Bill Shoemaker Lefty Nickerson Dotsam Stable 2:26.80
1980 Tiller 6 Ruben Hernandez David A. Whiteley William Haggin Perry 2:25.20
1979 Darby Creek Road 4 Angel Cordero, Jr. Howard M. Tesher H. Joseph Allen 1:41.60
1978 True Colors 4 Michael Venezia Willard C. Freeman Robert Billips 1:41.00
1977 Effervescing 4 Angel Cordero, Jr. John W. Russell Ogden Phipps 1:39.60
1976 Arabian Law 3 Jacinto Vasquez David A. Whiteley Lazy F Ranch 1:10.60
1975 Gallant Bob 3 Gerard Gallitano Joseph Marquette Robert Horton 1:09.60
  • In 1987, Theatrical was awarded first place following the disqualification of Dance of Life.



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