Remember the old Wild World of Sports tagline, “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat?” For Called to Serve, the agony of victory may be more apropos. In a field that includes graded stakes winners, Liaison, Nonios, All Squared Away, and a pair of horses that were narrowly defeated in grade 1 contests in Rousing Sermon and Blueskiesnrainbows, you might not give much notice to a horse that finished 11th and last in a maiden race less than five months ago, but perhaps you should. After three unsuccessful attempts against non-winners, the connections of Called to Serve had a tricky, if not uncomfortable, decision to make. The choice to geld their $290,000 yearling purchase was made, and they have not looked back since. The son of Afleet Alex will be making his first try in stakes company in Wednesday’s holiday feature at Betfair Hollywood Park, the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes. Not quite the man he was earlier this year, Called to Serve has turned his racing career completely around since becoming a gelding this spring. Owned by Marc Ferrell and trained by Peter Eurton, the well-bred and good looking dark bay will be making a rather big jump in class, but if his last two races are any indication of his ability, he rates a big chance to come away with the win on Wednesday.
In his first race as a gelding, Called to Serve handily defeated maidens by 3 ¼ lengths April 14 on the dirt of Santa Anita while earning a respectable Beyer of 86. Six weeks later, he came back to face older allowance horses on the Cushion Track of Hollywood. On the same surface and distance of the Swaps, he earned a hard-fought half-length victory in the solid time of 1:49-3. For the effort, Called to Serve was given a 97 Beyer which fits in well against his six stakes experienced foes who collectively have never hit one hundred on the Beyer scale.
On paper, Called to Serve may be 2-for-5 with earnings of $76,430, but since the surgery he is 2-for-2 and looking like a totally different horse. So much so, that he is my pick to click in the Swaps.