The victory in the 38th running of the 1 ½-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up solidified Point of Entry’s standing as one of the elite turf horses in the country.
Winning his fourth straight race, and tallying back-to-back Grade 1 wins with the Man o’ War at Belmont Park, Point of Entry ran the 1 ½ miles in a sharp 2:26.40 and paid $4.80 for a $2 win bet as the 7-5 favorite.
“I was keeping him behind horses,” Velazquez said after the race. “I wanted him to be covered up. He was really strong the whole way. By the half-mile pole, I pointed him outside and the horse who was laying third took a bad step, so I had to go back inside with him. But I didn’t want to make a move before the quarter-pole anyway, so it worked out. He was ready to go any time I let him go. Incredible.”
The Sword Dancer matched two of the hottest turf runners in the country in Point of Entry and Turbo Compressor. The latter was coming off back-to-back victories in the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup and the Grade 1 United Nations.
In both those races, Turbo Compressor galloped unchallenged on the lead through moderate fractions and could not be caught. In the Sword Dancer, however, which was Turbo Compressor’s first try at 1 ½ miles, the pace was a pressured one.
Turbo Compressor led by a length through six furlongs in 1:13.77 and a mile in 1:37.90, pushed along by Center Divider.
“Down in Monmouth, he went 1:15 [in the United Nations] and today he went 1:13,” said Point of Entry’s Hall of Fame trainer, Claude “Shug” McGaughey. “I told [Velazquez] if the pace is fast, you’ll know where you’ll be, and if it’s slow, he’ll take you where he wants to go.”
Point of Entry kept close contact with the leaders throughout. When the field accelerated into the far turn, Newsdad had joined the vanguard three wide.
At the quarter pole, Velazquez and Point of Entry swung into action, and the race quickly was over. Al Khali, who saved ground inside most of the race, also came out in the stretch and rallied for second. Brilliant Speed was 2 ½ lengths back in third, followed by Newsdad, Tahoe Lake, Hailstone, Center Divider, Game Ball and Turbo Compressor
The Phipps Stable won the Sword Dancer one other time, in its third running when Phipps’ father, the late Odgen Phipps, scored with Effervescing in 1977.
“This is a great day for me, and I’m enjoying every minute of it,” Phipps said afterward.