For the second consecutive year, Gufo emerged victorious in the $750,000 Sword Dancer Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday, Aug. 27, thanks in large part to his patented late kick. With the Sword Dancer win, Gufo earned a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland in November.
With trainer Christophe Clement adding blinkers following a lackluster fifth-place finish in the United Nations Stakes (G1) in his previous start, Gufo responded with a big effort against a competitive, international field in the Sword Dancer. The blinkers helped Gufo engage early in the race and set him up for a repeat in the 1 ½-mile turf marathon.
Racing in mid-pack in the early going, Gufo had a target to run down in the lane as Mira Mission and jockey Julien Leparoux spurted clear of his rivals in the stretch. Jockey Joel Rosario aboard Gufo, however, had other ideas. Rosario swung Gufo into the clear in the lane and with powerful strides surged past Mira Mission in the final sixteenth, winning by a half-length in the end in a final time of 2:28.92.
“He’s won a Grade 1 as a 3-year-old, a 4-year-old, and now a 5-year-old,” said Clement. “He’s been a very good horse these past three years. Unfortunately, in his last race, sometimes he has a tendency to drop too far out of it. When Joel [Rosario] asked him, he exploded in the stretch. I’m delighted. I thought the horse deserved the win.”
Owned by Otter Bend Stables, Gufo is a son of Declaration of War out of the Petionville mare Floy. The handsome chestnut was bred in Kentucky by John Little and Stephen Cainelli. Now a winner in 9-of-19 starts, Gufo has banked more than $1.9 million. The Sword Dancer marked his second Graded stakes win of the season after annexing the Pan American Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park in April.