Sadler's Joy Returns in Mac Diarmida Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 1st, 2018

The 2017 season was a big one for Sadler’s Joy.

The son of Kitten’s Joy entered the year as a lightly-raced, inexperienced colt with no stakes experience, but over the course of eight starts from January through November he threw his name in the ring as one of the best turf horses in the country, never finishing out of the superfecta while competing exclusively in graded stakes races. His biggest highlight was a late-running victory in the Sword Dancer Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, but arguably his career-best effort came when he finished a close fourth against a field of international challengers in the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I).

Now Sadler’s Joy is set to return to action in the $200,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park, a 1 3/8-mile event that has attracted eleven other starters. The field is filled with veteran stakes competitors, and while none can boast the overall accomplishments of Sadler’s Joy, they promise to put on a good show and ensure that Sadler’s Joy doesn’t get away with an easy victory in his first start of the season.

Leading the charge is Oscar Nominated, who—like Sadler’s Joy—is a son of Kitten’s Joy. Racing for the powerful team of trainer Mike Maker and owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Oscar Nominated already has three graded stakes wins under his belt, including a determined win in the W. L. McKnight Handicap (gr. III) going 1 ½ miles at Gulfstream last month. Although Oscar Nominated has yet to break through at the Grade 1 or Grade 2 level, his recent run over the course could give him a slight advantage over Sadler’s Joy, though drawing post position twelve could make it tricky for Oscar Nominated to work out an ideal trip.

Nessy, Gold Shield, and Markitoff, who ran second, fourth, and fifth in the W. L. McKnight, will all be back in action again while seeking their first stakes wins. Rounding out the field are Big Bend, winner of the Sycamore Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland last fall; Run Time, narrow winner of the two-mile H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Gulfstream two months ago; Muqtaser, runner-up in the Knickerbocker Stakes (gr. II) back in October at Belmont Park; One Go All Go, beaten just a head in the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream two starts back; Patterson Cross, beaten just a head in this race last year; Some in Tieme, upset winner of the Louisville Handicap (gr. III) last spring at Churchill Downs; and Bernay, runner-up in a recent Gulfstream allowance race for trainer .

Post time for the Mac Diarmida is 5:34 p.m. Eastern.