Although it shares a date on the calendar with the prestigious Arlington Million Stakes (G1), the Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes (G1), to be contested this Saturday at Saratoga Race Course, drew a deep and talented field. Grade 1 winners Point of Entry, Turbo Compressor, and Brilliant Speed, as well as graded stakes winner Al Khali and Newsdad, are set to contest the 1 ½-mile turf event.
Point of Entry has blossomed this season for trainer Shug McGaughey, and gives the Hall of Fame conditioner—who sent stablemate Boisterous to the Arlington Million—a strong hand in the Sword Dancer. Point of Entry has won three consecutive races, taking an allowance event at Keeneland Race Course in April before winning the Elkhorn Stakes (G2), his graded stakes debut, 15 days later. He posted a powerful victory in the Man o' War Stakes (G1) on July 14 at Belmont Park in his most recent outing.
The Dynaformer colt, out of the winning Seeking the Gold mare Matlacha Pass, is a half brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Pine Island. Matlacha Pass is a half sister to 2005 Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) winner Pleasant Home and multiple graded stakes winner Country Hideaway; other notable family members include Sky Beauty and Dayjur.
John Velazquez has the mount on Point of Entry, who drew post two.
Back for another try at Point of Entry is Man o' War runner-up Center Divider, who continued on well for second after setting the pace. Chad Brown saddles the Giant's Causeway horse, who will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik.
Turbo Compressor, a minor stakes winner on the dirt in 2011, has found his niche since being switched to the turf earlier this year, winning three of four starts on the surface at three different tracks. He comes into the Sword Dancer off front-running victories in the Colonial Turf Cup Stakes on June 16 at Colonial Downs, and the United Nations Stakes (G1) on July 7 at Monmouth Park.
Brilliant Speed, winner of the 2011 Blue Grass Stakes (G1) on the Keeneland Race Course Polytrack, took last year's Saranac Stakes (G3) in his only start on Saratoga's turf course. The four-year-old Dynaformer colt, trained by Tom Albertrani, is looking for his first Grade 1 victory on turf; he finished second in last year's Jamaica Handicap (G1) and third in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1).
Al Khali has never been worse than third at Saratoga, where he won the Saranac Stakes (G2) in 2009. The six-year-old Medaglia d'Oro ridgling, trained by Bill Mott, has just one win in five starts this year, but finished third in the United Nations last out. Mott also saddles Newsdad, who won the Pan American Stakes (G2) in March at Gulfstream Park, but has been unplaced in two outings since.
The field also includes multiple graded stakes-placed runners Tahoe Lake (Brz) and Hailstone; the two were second and third, respectively, in the John's Call Stakes at Saratoga on August 3.