Given a perfectly timed ride by Irad Ortiz, Jr., Swagger Jack
reaped the benefits of a hot pace and got the jump on a fast-closing
Sahara Sky to win
the 113th running of the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap for older sprinters on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Swagger Jack bided his time in fifth as Consortium, Brigand, and
Loudon vied for early supremacy. Discreet
Dancer, the even-money favorite, made it a four-way battle as the field
passed the five-sixteenths pole, while Swagger Jack began to inch his
way closer to the front runners.
Ortiz took Swagger Jack outside at the top of the lane, and the
5-year-old shot past the enervated pacesetters in midstretch. Sahara
Sky, the second choice, simultaneously
uncoiled a furious rally from last, but the wire came in time for
Swagger Jack, who held on to win by three-quarters of a length. Discreet
Dancer finished an additional length behind in third.
Swagger Jack, at 15-1 the second longest shot in the field of six, paid $33.60. His final time for seven furlongs was 1:21.44.
just tried to follow the instructions [trainer Marty Wolfson] told me,”
said Ortiz. “Everything he told me happened in the race. He told me
to break four, five lengths behind the speed and let the speed go.
Maybe three horses had speed and I was sitting behind them. At the
three-eighths pole, that horse loves to go, so that’s what I did, and he
started to pick them up pretty quick. It feels great.”
Swagger Jack won a pair of optional claimers at
Park in December and January, then was
second by a half-length in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Sprint
Championship in February after a tardy start. He was second, beaten 5 ¼
lengths by Discreet Dancer, in his most recent start, the
Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 9.
“I was very confident in this horse,” said Wolfson of Swagger
Jack’s chances of turning the tables in the Carter. “He should have won
the Gulfstream Sprint Championship,
but he got left at the start. And then in his last race, Fort
Larned stumbled at
the start and Discreet Dancer was left alone on the lead. I was
confident there was enough speed in today’s race that he’d be able to
make a run.”
Owned by Tom Hamilton’s Silverton Hill Farm, Swagger Jack
improved his record to 5-3-0 in 16 starts. The $240,000 winner’s share
of the Carter more than doubled his
earnings to $451,769.
Loudon was fourth, followed home by Consortium and Brigand. Saturday’s Charm was scratched.