Sadler’s Joy is without a win this year but trainer Tom Albertrani feels he’s in good shape to alter that stat when he bids to retain the $100,000 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct this weekend.
It will the 60th running of the Grade 3 contest, named in honour of legendary sportswriter Walter Wellesley ‘Red’ Smith, and the veteran son of Kitten’s Joy is seemingly in good shape ahead of the race.
His career highlights include wins in the Sword Dancer Invitational (G1) in August 2017 at Saratoga, Gulfstream Park’s Pan American (G2) in April 2017 and the Mac Diarmida (G2) in March 2018, as well as last year’s Red Smith success.
Those wins have helped Sadler’s Joy amass prize-money of $2,648,160 so far in his career, ensuring he will be the highest earner in this weekend’s race.
He arrives on the back of finishing third in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park – the third straight year he’s occupied that position in the Grade 1 contest.
Having debuted for Albertrani back in May 2016, the trainer says not a lot has changed with the now seven-year-old.
“He’s gotten bigger and stronger since three,” said Albertrani, who also sends out German-bred Tintoretto in the Red Smith. “There’s been no real change in the way he behaves around the barn, though. You wouldn’t even know his age.”
Sadler’s Joy has been placed in Grade 1 races on 10 occasions, including a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2018, behind European superstars Enable and Magical.
He’s been out of luck so far in 2020, including at Saratoga in early August in the Grade 2 Bowling Green when he was first past the post but disqualified and placed in fourth spot.
Joel Rosario will ride Sadler’s Joy from gate four in the Red Smith, while Junior Alvarado has the mount on Tintoretto breaking from gate six.
Albertrani is keeping his fingers crossed for a chance of luck with a horse that rarely gives anything but his best running.
“He’s run some big races and was so close in some of the bigger races,” Albertrani said. “I think one of the biggest disappointments was at Saratoga when he was disqualified. He’s just always consistently always been right there. The horse just always shows up.”
Aquaphobia, winner of the Grade 1 United Nations Monmouth Park in mid-July appears to be amongst the principle threats to Sadler’s Joy, while trainer Bill Mott saddles last-time-out Grade 3 Sycamore winner Red Knight.