Friday, July 27, 2012
CURRENCY SWAP RETURNS TO SPA FAVORED IN G2 AMSTERDAM
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Nearly a year ago, trainer Terri Pompay showed up in the Saratoga Race Course paddock with a big, flashy son of an unproven sire named High Cotton and minutes later watched him run away from a field of maidens by six lengths.
The victory turned out just to be a warm-up as that flashy bay, Currency Swap, returned a month later to overhaul a runaway Trinniberg in the final strides to win the Grade 1 Three Chimneys Hopeful on the closing day of the meet.
The Amsterdam routinely showcases some of the fastest 3-year-olds in the country, with Caleb’s Posse, Discreetly Mine, Quality Road and Kodiak Kowboy having won the past four editions.
“I’m ready to go,” Pompay said. “His last breeze [five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 at Monmouth Park] was really good, and the one before was really good. The owners decided they wanted to do the Amsterdam and then the [Grade 1 Foxwoods] King’s Bishop [August 25], if everything goes good. He likes the track, it’s the place to showcase good horses, and he’s a really nice horse.”
Currency Swap was given nearly five months off following his Hopeful victory because of surgery for an ankle chip and resumed training in late January in Florida. He returned to the races in a Gulfstream Park allowance on March 16, finishing seven lengths behind subsequent Grade 1 Resorts World New York City Casino Wood Memorial winner Gemologist. Off that one-turn mile race, Currency Swap was sent to the Grade 3 Illinois Derby, in which he suffered a rough journey and wound up 11th.
Pompay takes responsibility for the misadventure.
“We had a little bit of twinkling of the Triple Crown trail at that time of year, and he ran with Gemologist,” she said. “We had enough earnings to get in [the Kentucky Derby] if we did one thing more. We wanted that opportunity to make that decision. He ran into that monster in the allowance race, and then he ran in the Illinois Derby and it was a nightmare trip, so we still don’t know if he can go long. We decided we’d regroup and go back to the sprints. We’re good and tight and ready and fresh.”
Since the Illinois Derby, Currency Swap has taken the You And I overnight stakes and then finished second to Trinniberg in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens presented by VisitNassauCounty.com, both at Belmont Park. In the latter, he earned a lifetime-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out Mill House’s Doctor Chit, fresh off a scorching victory in the ungraded Western Larla Stakes on July 5 at Belmont. A winner of three of four starts, the son of War Chant, a $375,000 purchase at the 2011 OBS March Sale of Selected 2-year-olds in training, has not lost since finishing sixth in his debut on the turf at Saratoga last July.
The 3-1 second choice on the morning line, Doctor Chit broke his maiden at Keeneland Race Course in April and took an allowance on the artificial surface at Woodbine in May prior to the Western Larla.
“He’s holding his form well,” Pletcher said. “Winning at three different tracks is hard to do and we’ll ask him to step up one more time.”
Both Currency Swap and Doctor Chit like to be on the pace, although Pletcher said, “I don’t know if he has to be on the lead. He puts himself there pretty comfortably, though, so we’re not going to discourage him.”
Currency Swap isn’t the only horse to have tangled with Trinniberg as Fort Loudon, recently transferred from the barn of Stanley Gold to Hall of Famer Nick Zito, beat him by a neck in the Grade 3 Carry Back at Calder Race Course on July 7.
Fort Loudon, 7-2 on the morning line, heads into the Amsterdam on a three-race winning streak, all in stakes races at Calder. With a record of 7-0-2 from 14 career starts, his only losses following his maiden victory last July at Calder were in the Grade 1 Florida Derby (sixth behind Take Charge Indy), Grade 2 Fountain of Youth (fifth to eventual Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags), the Grade 3 Holy Bull (fourth to Algorithms), and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in which he was seventh behind Hansen.
“He’s been here for a while,” Zito said outside his Saratoga barn. “He ran unbelievably [in the Carry Back]. I wanted to give him a little bit more time, but the way he came up, what are you going to do?”
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert shows up with Fog City Stable and George Bolton’s Gun Boat, recent 2 ½-length winner in a Betfair Hollywood Park allowance race against older horses. The Congrats colt, 4-1 on the morning line, is Grade 3 placed and was beaten just a length when fourth in last year’s Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity.
“He ran pretty fast the other day when he won, and I thought it’s a good spot,” Baffert said of the Amsterdam. “It’s a tough race. Everybody brings their cream here.”
Yet another Hall of Fame trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, will saddle Laurie’s Rocket for the first time in the race after a transfer from the stable of Dallas Stewart.
The Bluegrass Cat colt, owned by long-time Lukas client Willis Horton, won the Bachelor Stakes at Oaklawn Park in April then finished second in the Chick Lang on Preakness Day at Pimlico. In his last start, he chased Trinniberg and Currency Swap before fading to ninth in the Woody Stephens.
Lukas confessed to not knowing much about Laurie’s Rocket, 15-1, who he has worked twice at Saratoga since the horse shipped up from Kentucky. “The one thing I’m concerned about is doing as good as Dallas did with him,” he said. “He’s been doing pretty good sprinting.”
Unbridled’s Note (8-1), winner of an allowance over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs last out for trainer Steve Asmussen, and graded-stakes-placed Politicallycorrect (10-1) complete the field
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