Trainer Tom Albertrani is hopeful Sadler's Joy is ready to add another Grade 1 victory to his resume in the Grade 1, $1 million Woodford Reserve Manhattan at the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival on Saturday.
Winner of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga last year with an eye-catching run to the wire, the 5-year-old chestnut son of Kitten's Joy comes into the 146th running of the 1 ¼-mile turf race off a close-call second in the Grade 1 Man o' War at 1 3/8-miles at Belmont on May 15.
“He's been very consistent,” said Albertrani of the Woodslane Farm color-bearer, who was a fast-closing runner up to Hi Happy in the Man o' War, beaten a half-length. “In the Man o' War, he just needed a little extra ground to get up in time. He likes to hang out the back and it's important he get a well-timed ride. He has a tremendous turn of foot and when he starts to kick in, he makes up a lot of ground.”
Sadler's Joy is 6-2-3 from 17 starts with earnings of $1.48 million and has competed exclusively in graded-stakes events the past two seasons. He was third in the Manhattan last year, closing from last to finish third, beaten 1 ½ lengths, under Hall of Famer Mike Smith.
“Mike was riding him for the first time, and he was a little upset thinking he could have won that race had he moved a little earlier,” said Albertrani. “This race is 1 ¼ miles, which may not be his best, but a lot depends on how the race sets up for him. The more pace, the better.”
While Julien Leparoux has ridden Sadler's Joy in the majority of his races since January 2017, Javier Castellano, who is 2-0-1 aboard him in four starts, with one fourth, has the call on Saturday.
“We just wanted to make a change,” said Albertrani.
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