SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- On a card ruled by long shots, Telling provided the biggest shocker of the day at Saratoga, rallying from off the pace under Javier Castellano to win Saturday's Grade 1, $500,00 Sword Dancer Invitational by two lengths over Better Talk Now.
It was one length back to Brass Hat in third. He finished one-half length ahead of Gentlemen Chester. Grand Couturier, the 5-2 favorite seeking his third consecutive victory in this race, could do no better than fifth. He was followed in the order of finish by Quijano, Americain, Rising Moon, Musketier, and Lauro.
Telling was the longest shot in the field at 33-1 and returned $68. In a pick-six sequence that began the day with a $53,784 carryover, there were winners who returned $51.50 and $57.50. After those results, there is a pick-six carryover $262,997 heading into Sunday's card. Handicappers with 4 of 6 correct were paid $6,973.
Telling, a 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy, was not among the original list of invitees to the Sword Dancer. Trainer Steve Hobby asked for and received an invitation from the racing office when an alternate list was put out last Monday.
"We thought about this race last year, actually, but he wasn't doing well at the time, so we skipped it," said Hobby, who won his first Grade 1 race. "This year he was training so well and he really, really moved up at a mile and a half."
Telling had lost 10 consecutive races since he won an allowance race over soft turf at Arlington on May 16, 2008. In his last race, he finished fifth in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap, beaten just 1 1/2 lengths.
On Saturday, Telling received a superb trip from Javier Castellano, who kept the horse in fifth position early while saving ground. Meanwhile, Lauro and Musketier got involved in a protracted speed duel of 23.46 seconds for the quarter-mile, 46.80 for the half, and 1:11.18 for six furlongs with Americain and Quijano right behind them.
Castellano had Telling in the three path down the backside, but still remained patient even as Rising Moon came to his outside. Castellano advanced Telling between horses around the turn, brought him into the five path turning for home, and the horse closed with a determined run. Telling, owned by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong, covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:25.43 over firm turf.
"I had a perfect trip. I saved all the ground, I squeezed him between the two horses, and when I asked him he kicked in and opened by two," Castellano said. "He finished very good, galloped out strong. I was very surprised the way he ran a mile and a half - he never got tired."
The Lieblongs purchased Telling from Darley Stable after the colt debuted in a 6 1/2-furlong race at Arlington Park in the fall of 2007.
Meanwhile, Better Talk Now came with his usual late run, albeit widest of all under Ramon Dominguez. The 10-year-old, who won the Sword Dancer in 2004, finished second in this race for the second consecutive year.
"He made a good run. I'm thrilled," trainer Graham Motion said. "I would have loved to have won it. It's tough when you get beat by a 33-1 shot, but he ran a big race."