With Red Rocks to be scratched because of a hock injury, picking the favorite in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer is a challenging as picking the winner. The course condition is an unknown at this point but the best it could be is yielding at post time.

The three logical horses are Grand Couturier (8-1) Better Talk Now (4-1) and Dancing Forever (5-2), the early lines not reflecting the anticipated scratch.

Grand Couturier is the defending champion in this race, which happens to coincide with the fact it was the best effort of his career. He likes it here, will be making his third start of the season, and his last was a breakthrough performance on the Equiform scale. He’s been pointed to this carefully by Bobby Ribaudo and the surging Alan Garcia picks up the mount.

Better Talk Now is a remarkable nine-year-old and throughout his career his best efforts have come either at the 12 distance, soft ground, or both, a scenario he likely will get here. Regular rider Ramon Dominguez has been on a recent tear and once again takes the reins on the Graham Motion veteran. Like Grand Couturier, he will need to run down likely loose leader, Presious Passion, beneath turf ace Eddie Castro.

Dancing Forever is another deep closer but one who has put his act together to enjoy a career season. Win or lose, everything Shug McGaughey is sending out is live and this late developer’s fortunes have improved since Rene Douglas has become his regular rider; interesting how some horses just respond better to certain riders.

We’ll take whatever value is offered on Grand Couturier to win, 4-1 or greater after the scratch of Red Rocks, and keying him in exactas with his main rivals here.

Running Totals: (254) 78-51-29 Total Dollar Return: $472.50 [win selections only]