Juddmonte Farms' Flintshire, who has made starts on several continents, took over on the far turn and cruised to a dominant victory in the Grade 1, $1 million Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga Saturday afternoon.
It was the first U.S. win in the second stateside start for Flintshire, who was runner-up to Main Sequence in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf. With a win in the Sword Dancer, the 5-year-old earns a “Win and You're In” berth into this year's Turf.
“He's a remarkable horse,” said Juddmonte's racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe. “He's just so unbelievably consistent. He's traveled the world. He's won in Hong Kong, he's won in Dubai, and now he's won here. He's a remarkable horse. He's always been a very sound type of horse and the way he races – and the sort of value of the races that are available to him around the world – makes him a really attractive proposition for us.”
Jockey Vincent Cheminaud rode Flintshire, who sat off the early pace set by fellow European competitor Guardini. After opening splits of :24, :48.74, and 1:13.51, Flintshire made a strong inside move and went on from there, winning comfortably by 2 1/2 lengths over Red Rifle and Twilight Eclipse. The top three were strung out and well ahead of the rest of the field.
“He was a little bit slow,” Cheminaud said. “Andre [Fabre], the trainer, said to keep to his position and to remain calm and that he has a good turn a foot. The horse was in good position and quickened well for him to go through the gap.”
Final time for the twelve-furlong turf event was a swift 2:23.77.
Andre Fabre trains Flintshire, who went winless this year before the Sword Dancer in races in France, Great Britain and Dubai. He has five wins, eight seconds and a third in 17 lifetime starts. In 2014, his greatest triumph came in the G1 Hong Kong Vase, which he won by a half-length.
Flintshire was the second Grade 1 winner on Saturday's Saratoga card to race Lasix-free; King's Bishop victor Runhappy ran without the medication as well.
Bred in Great Britain by Juddmonte, Flintshire is by Dansili out of the Sadler's Wells mare Dance Routine.
“He loves fast ground, a mile and a half, so from that point of view he's ideal,” Grimthorpe said. “It's hugely important to get a win like this before the Arc. We've got his father, we've got his mother, we've got his grandmother, we've got his sister. The people who work on the farms, the people who race him, this is huge for us.”
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