This time last year Trinniberg and nine other 3-year old colts lined up in the starting gate at Gulfstream Park to contest the 7 furlong G3 Swale Stakes in the hopes of potentially spring boarding into the deep waters of the Kentucky Derby. Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes runner-up Ever So Lucky was sent off as the favorite, but it was Trinniberg who stole the show, drawing away to win by 6 lengths. A win in the G3 Bay Shore Stakes nearly doubled the son of Teuflesberg’s graded stakes earnings and secured him a spot in the Kentucky Derby if the Parbhoos decided to enter their fleet colt in the race. The Parbhoos chose to take a shot at the biggest race for 3-year olds, and the rest, as they say, is history.
This year, the Swale drew a nearly full field of thirteen despite the fact that there are not any Derby points on the line. The new points system places emphasis on route races and three-year old form; therefore, the 7 furlong Swale Stakes did not make the cut. Historically speaking, the exclusion of the Swale from the points system will barely cause a blip on the radars of trainers. So far, the race has never produced a Kentucky Derby winner. Only seven out of the twenty-seven winners have gone on to even race in the Kentucky Derby; of the seven that did, Easy Goer’s second place finish to arch rival Sunday Silence was the best finish of any Swale winner. Chief’s Crown was the only other Swale winner to even hit the board in the Run for the Roses; he finished third behind winner Spend A Buck and runner-up Stephan’s Odyssey.
None of this year’s Swale entrants have made much noise on the Derby trail, but the field does consist of some very talented sprinters and a few that will perhaps want to go longer later on down the road. Back for a rematch are Hutcheson Stakes second, third, and fourth place finishers Forty Tales, Undrafted, and Merit Man. Singanothersong, the sixth place finisher from that race, is also back for the rematch. Hutcheson winner Honorable Dillon is skipping the Hutcheson in favor of taking a shot at the Tampa Bay Derby for trainer Eddie Kenneally, who will still be represented on Saturday by maiden winner Gombey Dancer.
The nearly full field is comprised of a healthy dose of speed, but unlike many of the more recent stakes races at Gulfstream, it also drew its fair share of entrants that prefer to do their best running in the stretch. Hutcheson runner-up Forty Tales has been installed as the morning line favorite. The Tale of the Cat colt was full of run late in the game last out. He had the advantage of closing into a hot pace but ran out of room at the wire while just snatching second from Wes Welker owned Undrafted. It looks as though he should be able to get a similar pace scenario, but he may need to start his run a little sooner if he wants to get the win.
Merit Man poses a legitimate threat from the two hole as does Undrafted from the rail. Res Judicata is an interesting addition to the bunch. The chestnut son of Smarty Jones has done quite well in Pennsylvania, but the Swale will be a class test with the competition at Gulfstream being stiffer than that at Parx or Penn National. Though I am inclined to with Forty Tales, I just do not see a clear cut winner in this field. This looks to truly be a bettor’s race.