Matthew Schera's Glorious Empire upset the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at odds of 15-1 on Saturday, leading all the way from gate to wire to win by 1 1/4 lengths. The 7-year-old son of Holy Roman Emperor gave trainer Chuck Lawrence his first top-level win, completing 1 1/2 miles over Saratoga's firm turf in 2:24.41. Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Glorious Empire earned an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders' Cup Turf this fall at Churchill Downs.
“I'm trying to get my voice back,” said an excited Lawrence. “We knew this horse had this kind of talent, it was just a matter of getting it to come out, so here we go.”
Glorious Empire took the first quarter mile in :23.16, but slowed it down significantly to mark the half in :48.18. From there, he was able to dictate a reasonable pace and pull away from the field in the stretch, winning by 1 1/4 lengths on the wire. Channel Maker finished second and Spring Quality third. The 2-1 favorite Sadler's Joy finished sixth.
“He traveled very good for me, and he's got that kick, you know, and at the end he just exploded,” Leparoux said. “It was a rough race, like the last time. He obviously loves the track. We won two here this year and one last year. The first quarter was fast, but today he settled very nicely and picked the pace up pretty quickly.”
Bred in Ireland by Patrick Grogan, Glorious Empire was a $151,880 yearling at Tattersalls. He began his career in Europe, winning five of his nine starts, before make the journey to the United States. Glorious Empire has improved with age, and has now won his past three races in a row. Overall, the gelding boasts a record of nine wins from 23 starts for earnings of over $900,000.
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