An ultra-competitive cast of eight will travel 1 1/2 miles on the Saratoga lawn in Saturday’s $500,000 Sword Dancer (G1).

Sword Dancer Analysis

#3 Marzo is swift from the gate and will be prominent from the opening bell. #4 Channel Maker and #6 Cross Border will be in the first or second flight early on, as well. The tempo will be solid.

Sword Dancer Contenders

#1 HIGHLAND SKY — Tagg charge is a winner over the course and gets the cozy rail draw for the turf marathon. Sky Mesa gelding was elevated to second in the recent Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga, but he is winless on the turf dating back to 2018. Exotics contender will have Junior Alvarado in the silks.

#2 AQUAPHOBIA — Recent United Nations (G1) hero is one of three major contenders for conditioner Mike Maker. Giant’s Causeway 7-year-old has shown vast improvement since being claimed in January, and a repeat of his latest makes him a win threat with Irad in the pipes.

#3 MARZO — Maker pupil led to late stretch before being run down in the Bowling Green last time out. Likely pacesetter shows a pair of strong morning drills in the interim, and he could get brave late if he establishes a slow early tempo with Santana picking up the mount.

#4 CHANNEL MAKER — Grade 1 hero from the Mott barn comes off an even showing in the Bowling Green and figures to move forward on Saturday. Gelded son of English Channel was a close fourth in the race last season, and the chestnut will receive a fine trip on Saturday tracking the pace from the break. Manny Franco has the assignment.

#5 CORELLI — Contender from the barn of Jonathan Thomas missed by a length in the United Nations in his second appearance since arriving from overseas. Point of Entry 5-year-old responded to the addition of Lasix and blinkers at Monmouth Park, and he rates an obvious chance with a step forward on Saturday in his Spa debut. Joel Rosario will be up.

#6 CROSS BORDER — Top pick is the ideal horse-for-course candidate with a sterling 5-for-5 mark at Saratoga. The third from the Maker shedrow has been first or second in seven of his last 10 outings, and the dark bay has the gate presence to be in the hunt from the opening bell. Empire State-bred will force the tempo beneath Jose Ortiz.

#7 PEDRO CARA — Wildcard in the field was a nose second in the Belmont Derby (G1) last season in his lone prior run on U.S. soil. Graham Motion pupil has some class to him and hails from an outfit that does some of its best work off layoffs of this type. John Velazquez riding the son of Pedro the Great adds to the appeal.

#8 SADLER’S JOY — Classy 7-year-old finished first, only to be disqualified to fourth, in the Bowling Green most recently. Tom Albertrani charge missed by a neck in the race in 2019 and comes in with a trio of very good races in succession, as well. Stout late runner will be the one to hold off late with Javier Castellano in the stirrups.

Sword Dancer Wagers

  • $10 Exacta Key Box: 6 with 7,8 ($40)
  • $1 Trifecta: 6 with 7,8 with all ($12)