Sadler’s Joy Returns To Winners Circle Via Red Smith Stakes at Aqueduct

The following appeared in and was written by Bob Ehalt. Sadler’s Joy is owned by Woodslane Farm in The Plains, VA and has earned $2,471,360 from 27 career starts.

Rene and Lauren Woolcott operate a comparatively small breeding operation under the banner of Woodslane Farm.

They have only four mares in the United States and two in France.

Yet from humble roots mighty oaks can grow, and the Woolcotts can surely take pride in a certain 6-year-old homebred with more than $2 million in earnings who added to an already outstanding résumé as the curtain came down on one part of the turf racing season in New York.

Sadler’s Joy’s Sword Dancer saddlecloth is on display at Woodslane Farm in The Plains.

Sadler’s Joy, the pride of the Woolcotts and Woodslane Farm, returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in more than 20 months Nov. 23. He put a rash of narrow losses in some of the sport’s top grass stakes behind him, surging to a two-length victory over Trinity Farm’s Red Knight in the $202,000 Red Smith Stakes (G3T) at Aqueduct Racetrack, the New York Racing Association’s final graded turf stakes for males in 2019.

“He’s such a treasure,” Lauren Woolcott said of the Tom Albertrani trainee, a son of Kitten’s Joy  out of Woodslane’s Dynaformer mare Dynaire. “We bred him, own him, and we still have the mare. She throws such beautiful horses.”

Sadler's Joy wins the 2019 Red Smith Stakes at Aqueduct
Photo: Coglianese PhotosThe connections of Sadler’s Joy accept the Red Smith trophy at Aqueduct Racetrack

Sadler’s Joy’s 3-year-old half sister by Lemon Drop Kid , Dyna Passer, was third for Woodslane and Albertrani in the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational Stakes in September.

Though the win was only the seventh in 26 starts for Sadler’s Joy, he has been a gem of consistency, finishing fourth or better 23 times. The $110,000 paycheck brought his earnings up to a lofty $2,471,360.

“It’s all about being there, and ‘Sadler’ is always there,” Lauren Woolcott said. “He didn’t have any wins lately, but he always tries.”

The entrance to Woodslane Farm’s main barn at The Plains.

Sadler’s Joy had been winless in 10 starts since taking the Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2T) in March 2018, but his two previous tries were testaments to his competitive spirit at the top level among distance turf runners. After losing by a neck in the Sword Dancer Stakes (G1T), he was third, beaten only a half-length, in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (G1T).

It took a while to bounce back from the Joe Hirsch, in which he uncharacteristically contested the early pace, and Sadler’s Joy missed a third consecutive trip to the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1T).

Instead, Albertrani pointed the chestnut horse to the 1 3/8-mile Red Smith, the runner’s first start in a grade 3 stakes since his stakes debut in the W. L. McKnight Handicap (G3T) in January 2017.

Sadler’s Joy won the 2017 Sword Dancer at Saratoga. He finished second in the 2019 edition.

And Sadler’s Joy responded with a grade 1 effort. As the field of 11 in the Red Smith turned for home, they were strung seven wide across the track, with Sadler’s Joy moving in the six path. Reunited with jockey Javier Castellano after he was ridden by Jose Lezcano in his two previous tries, Sadler’s Joy swept to the front at the top of the stretch, raising some concerns he might revert to old antics and wait on horses. Yet in Sadler’s Joy’s fourth, and likely last, start in 2019, Castellano kept the horse’s mind on the business at hand, and the $1.35-to-1 favorite ($4.70) cruised to the wire in 2:15.76.

“He came with a lot of determination down the lane. He wasn’t waiting on anyone today,” Albertrani said. “Javier gave him the perfect ride. He likes to make that wide, sweeping move at the end. He was much the best today.”

While plans call for the Kentucky-bred to begin a career at stud in 2020, Albertrani hopes his grade 1 winner can make it to Dubai for the $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) March 28 at about 1 1/2 miles before calling it a career.

“It was nice to close the year with a win,” Albertrani said. “Hopefully we can get him to Dubai and maybe get a race in him before that in Florida.”

Albertrani said the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes (G1T) was an unlikely target for Sadler’s Joy because of the shorter-than-preferred 1 3/16-mile distance.

Red Knight, a 5-year-old homebred Pure Prize gelding trained by Bill Mott, found himself behind that wall of horses in the stretch and followed Sadler’s Joy to rally for second under Junior Alvarado. He had 1 1/2 lengths on the third-place finisher, New York-bred Dot Matrix, Ten Strike Racing’s Freud  gelding trained by Brad Cox. Runnymede Racing’s Postulation, sent off at 75-1 odds, was fourth for trainer Michael Matz.

Matthew Schera’s grade 1-winning 8-year-old Glorious Empire set the pace through six furlongs in 1:13.95 but faded to last.