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Grade I, $500K Handicap to Air on ESPN From 5:00-6:00 p.m. (ET); ESPN Classic to Air Sword Dancer Retrospective Friday

It's on to the turf for this week's edition of "The Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships," the three-month racing series airing on the ESPN networks, with Saturday's Grade I, $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga from 5:00-6:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN. The top three finishers in the Sword Dancer receive World Thoroughbred Championship points in the Breeders' Cup Turf division.

The 1 mile Sword Dancer will showcase several horses gearing up for the October 27 Breeders' Cup Turf, including the popular 10-year-old gelding, John's Call, and King Cugat. Trained by Bill Mott, King Cugat is currently second in the Breeders' Cup Turf Division standings (20 points) behind West Coast heavyweight Bienamado (26 points).

Mott-trained Eclipse champion Theatrical (IRE) won the Sword Dancer and Breeders' Cup Turf in 1987, the latter after a memorable stretch duel at Hollywood Park with Arc de Triomphe winner Trempolino. The Hall of Fame horseman, best known for training Cigar, also won the 1992 renewal of the Sword Dancer with Fraise, who went on to win the Breeders' Cup Turf that fall at Gulfstream Park.

John's Call, third in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf, will defend his victory in 2000 Sword Dancer. Also expected are 1999 Sword Dancer winner Honor Glide and the top European mare Ela Athena.

Hosting Saturday's telecast will be Jim Kelly, joined by analysts Randy Moss and Charlsie Cantey and essayist Jack Whitaker.

ESPN Classic will air highlights from past Sword Dancer Invitationals on its series "Thoroughbred Classics Friday from 9:30-10:00 a.m. and 5:30-6:00 p.m. Jim McKay and Whitaker are the hosts.

"The Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" began with the telecast of the Swaps Stakes in mid-July and culminates with a one-hour Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships special on October 26 on ESPN2, the day before the eight-race, $13 million Championships is held at Belmont Park. Including Saturday's Sword Dancer, the series will feature 12 hours of horse racing coverage on both ESPN and ESPN2. (See below for complete schedule.)

The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of horseracing interests, including the American Quarter Horse Association, charged with increasing awareness of Thoroughbred racing and improving economic conditions for industry participants. The NTRA also conducts the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, racing's year-end Championship consisting of eight races and $13 million in purses and awards, and the Breeders' Cup National Stakes Program, which are funded by the industry's owners and breeders. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and New York City. A compendium of NTRA press releases appears on the NTRA Web site,, and at the Web site for the Breeders' Cup Championship, Contact the NTRA at



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