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Bolshoi Ballet Dances to Victory in Sword Dancer

Coolmore’s Bolshoi Ballet , winless in his last nine starts, made his return to New York State a victorious one in the $750,000 Sword Dancer Stakes (G1T) Aug. 26 at Saratoga Race Course.

An impressive winner of the 2021 Belmont Derby Invitational (G1T) as a 3-year-old in his American debut, Bolshoi Ballet was then fourth in the Saratoga Derby (G1T) before shipping back overseas to the yard of trainer Aidan O’Brien. The once auspicious runner then failed to live up to his potential in Europe and appeared to struggle to regain the form he had shown in the United States.

Squaring off against his former stablemate Stone Age , who had been transferred to New York-based conditioner Chad Brown earlier this year, Bolshoi Ballet was dismissed at 5-1 in the field of six.

Ridden for the first time by John Velazquez, the 5-year-old was unhurried early in third position as Bowling Green Stakes (G2T) winner Channel Maker  cruised through fractions of :23.65, :49.58, and 1:15.93. As Stone Age took over at the half-mile marker, Velazquez was beginning to get to work on Bolshoi Ballet and the pair vied in between horses into the turn for home.

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“Aidan (O’Brien) told me, ‘he’s going to be lazy, so you are going to have to ride him, he doesn’t give you anything, so make sure you keep him busy,'” Velazquez said.

Under a steady stream of encouragement from Velazquez, Bolshoi Ballet surged clear of Stone Age at the top of the stretch and strolled to the wire 4 1/2 lengths in front.

Soldier Rising , the trailer throughout, launched a wide move down the center of the course to run on well for second. Pioneering Spirit was a distant third. Stone Age faded to last.

Bolshoi Ballet ($13) ran the 1 1/2 miles over a yielding turf course in 2:29.29.

“Stone Age was a horse of ours as well. The two of them were very good horses,” said T.J. Comerford, O’Brien’s assistant. “Today, he beat the likes of Stone Age who was second in the Breeders’ Cup (2022 G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf).

“He’s a much better horse over quicker ground, and he probably wants quicker ground than this. We’d only call that good ground in Europe, you’d probably call that soft.”

Sixth in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1T), Comerford said it was likely Bolshoi Ballet would return for the 2023 rendition with his all-expense-paid berth into the race earned in the Sword Dancer. The Sword Dancer is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: “Win and You’re In” race for the Nov. 5 $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita Park.

Bred in Ireland by Lynch-Bages and Rhinestone Bloodstock, Bolshoi Ballet landed his second grade 1 victory, and improved his bankroll to $1,333,959 in 17 trips to the post. He’s the second stakes winner produced from the Anabaa mare Alta Anna, the dam of group 2 victress Southern France.


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