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Kentucky Derby 2014 - Handicapping the Swale Stakes

The Swale Stakes (G-2), contested at seven furlongs, showcases three year old sprinters. Held at Gulfstream Park, the race doesn’t carry any points for the 2014 Kentucky Derby.  Could an aspiring colt (or more likely, his owner or trainer with a severe case of Derby fever) win the Swale and suddenly hit the Triple Crown trail?  Well, Easy Goer won the Swale and the Belmont. A year later Summer Squall was second in the Swale and later won the Preakness, so anything is possible. Considering that it was over twenty years ago when these feats were accomplished, it isn’t likely.  That being said, the Swale Stakes is still an important race in the scheme of things and sometimes has Breeders’ Cup implications.  In 2010 Big Drama was second in the Swale and won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.  Trinniberg won the Swale and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2012.
Florida Filly's Ashley Tamulonis and I team up once again to bring you a scintillating review of a Florida Stakes race. A short field of seven colts are entered in the Swale Stakes.
HAVANA (Dunkirk - Missy Turtle, by Kyle's Our Man) Even though he was the favorite in the B.C. Juvie, I didn’t have much faith in Havana. He surprised me by fighting it out with Strong Mandate through much of the race and still sticking around to out-game that rival.  Although he was practically staggering down the stretch, I have a feeling that if this colt knew that New Year’s Day was cutting up the rail, Havana would have somehow found a little extra.  Havana has a ton of early speed and draws the rail, a perfect position for his running style over the Gulfstream drag strip.  Brush up on yourEspañol, ‘cause this guy will say adios to the field.  Contender.
HAVANA—Trained by T-Pletch, Havana was last seen losing the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in the final strides out at Santa Anita. I have to give this handsome son of Dunkirk major brownie points for closing stalking a brisk pace and still sticking around to run a solid 2nd in the end. Wide nearly the entire trip from his far outside post 13, I believe he could have held of New Year’s Day’s late run if he hadn’t lost so much ground. Pletcher trainees win at a 20% clip when off 61-180 days, so the layoff should not be an issue. His works have been nice, and he doesn’t need to win this to move forward. Furthermore, a win wouldn’t amount to much here anyway other than to pad stats as there are no Derby points available for this 7 furlong sprint.
CAN'T STOP THE KID (Montbrook - Halo Reality, by Prospector's Halo) is 2-2 at Gulfstream. On paper, he has the speed to run with Havana. Can't Stop the Kid  has some class. He’s a half to a stakes placed runner and a half sister bore Dwyer winner Teeth of the Dog. Plus, the dam is a stakes winner.  The colt’s Bris speed figures have improved in every start and he’s fired back-to-back bullets.  If Havana’s cigar fails to light, Can't Stop the Kid might not be caught. Contender.
CAN’T STOP THE KID—Never worse than 3rd in 6 career starts, Can’t Stop the Kid has run on nearly every surface available: turf, dirt, sloppy dirt and wet-fast synthetics. His two career wins have come over the runway strip that is Gulfstream’s main track, making it pretty obvious that is his preferred stomping grounds. He has never been favored by the betting public, and I see him being outclassed for the top spots here. Could fill out the exotics.
NO NAY NEVER (Scat Daddy - Cat's Eye Witness, by Elusive Quality) is one very fast colt. Have you seen his race times?  1:09 on soft turf. Really nice works, too. That being said… No Nay Never has a pedigree that is pretty varied. Less than half (about 40%) of his sire’s offspring like dirt. On the other hand, his dam won over turf and dirt as did his second dam.  So here’s what we know: No Nay Never’s dirt works have been spectacular. He doesn’t like to rate, and may be part of a torrid pace.  He hasn’t raced since last August and has never run past six furlongs.  Trainer Wesley Ward is 20% with runners making their first start after 90+ days.  I may regret it, but I’m saying No. Nay. Not this time.
NO NAY NEVER—Globetrotting No Nay Never has yet to do a thing wrong in his short racing career. He owns wins in three countries, including Group wins in England and France. The only blemish on his otherwise spotless résumé, at least for this race, is that he has never raced on traditional dirt. Despite that, however, his morning works at Gulfstream have been stellar, though we won’t know for sure how that will translate to afternoons until once the dust has settled. If he runs to his dirt breeding, No Nay Never will be a heavy favorite to stay undefeated.
PRUDHOE BAY (Songandaprayer - Cameron Crazies, by Lion Heart) can let the speed crazies duel. He’s content to track them and take over in the stretch. Draw a line through his second race when he raced a mile. He made a good early effort but it was two furlongs too far. Prudhoe Bay‘s running style and pedigree indicate that seven furlongs is within his scope. His dam owns the only blacktype in two generations. Prudhoe Bay owns the highest late pace speed figure in the field at 103, however, that race was over synthetic. I think he’s in a bit tough here.  Toss.
PRUDHOE BAY—Trained by Edward Plesa, Jr., Prudhoe Bay owns wins on dirt and all-weather surfaces. He won his maiden at first asking before running into Coup de Grace in a 1 mile NW1X optional claimer. Dam Cameron Crazies had the privilege of racing against the great Rachel Alexandra, but unlike that mare, Cameron did not seem to want any part of anything other than sprint distances. Maybe…if the price is right.
SPOT (Pulpit - Quiet Summernight, by Quiet American) tried to make headway in the Hutcheson Stakes, but this was a weird race for him. His jock didn’t take advantage of post one to put Spot into position, instead, he dropped back and took the colt to the outside, where Spot wound up three and four wide.  Fast forward and Spot gets a jockey switch to Lezcano, who will likely give the colt a better ride. Spot has a couple of strong works and deserves a do-over. He’ll probably be overlooked and could offer some value to the exotics. Run, Spot, run! Exotics.
SPOT—A half to stakes winner Quiet All American, Spot showed marked improvement when switching to dirt for the first time in his 4th career start. After his 8 ½ length romp in that maiden race at Hawthorne, trainer Nick Zito placed him in graded stakes company for the first time in the G3 Hutcheson Stakes here at Gulfstream a month ago. The gray son of Pulpit then put in a very even effort to finish 5th, beaten 8 lengths by winner Wildcat Red. Second place finisher C. Zee came back to be an also ran behind that same winner in the G2 Fountain of Youth last weekend. I’m not sure he belongs in this spot.
BROTHERSOFTHETIME (Bob and John - Hostility, by Devil His Due) is half to a stakes placed runner and their dam is a stakes winner. Yes, Ashley, his sire won the Wood Memorial, but he was a better runner than he is a stallion.  With four crops of racing age, Bob and John has seven stakes winners (4%), none graded. Brothersofthetime is a nice colt but I agree with you that he’s over his withers in here.  Toss.
BROTHERSOFTHETIME—Anyone a fan of 2006 G1 Wood Memorial winner Bob and John? If so, then you’re going to like this colt. A winner of 3 of 5 lifetime thus far, Brothersofthetime is a stakes winner by virtue of his Seacliff Stakes score at Calder. Therein lies my big issue with his chances here. Four of his five starts have been at Calder, but the one time he shipped to Gulfstream, he did come away a winner. I doubt that he could duplicate that score against the likes of Havana and No Nay Never, but he presents a good betting opportunity.
BREITLING FLYER (Ghostzapper - Starbuster, by Housebuster) has finished out of the money only once in his six race career. I don’t think it’s a matter of his being able to keep up, Ashley, since  he owns the second highest late pace speed figure (100),  but I do think that Breitling Flyer prefers running with another horse and isn’t dominant enough to win.  Breitling Flyer has a nice pedigree. He’s a half to multiple stakes winner Hesa Big Star and to a stakes placed runner. His second dam is a half to the great Alydar, who played second fiddle to Affirmed.  I’m not dismissing Breitling Flyer, I think he can place third or fourth and make someone’s day in an otherwise chalky race. Exotic play.
BREITLING FLYER—Another Calder shipper, Breitling Flyer has just his debut win to his credit despite being competitive in stakes races over at Calder. He has a pair of runner-up efforts over Gulfstream’s main track, but if he can’t keep up at Calder, then I seriously question his ability to do so at Gulfstream.
Track bias:  SPEED. 73$ of the pace setters/pressers win.  44% go wire to wire. 58% of the favorites finish in the money, but only win 38% of the time. 58% of the winners go to the post at 5-1 or less. 
LAURIE: This may well be a chalky race, and I like your picks, Ashley, but I like to think outside the starting gate. Let’s shake things up a bit.  I’ll go for the price horse, Can’t Stop The Kid at 6-1. I may be proven wrong, but I’ll take a play against No Nay Never.   Can't Stop the Kid, Havana, Breitling Flyer.
ASHLEY: On paper, this looks to be a two horse race, and I just can’t see any way around Havana or No Nay Never. Can’t Stop the Kid gets a vote of confidence for at least the exotics or maybe an upset if neither of the top two are quite feeling their oats.


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Older Comments about Kentucky Derby 2014 - Handicapping the Swale Stakes...

Just looked at the race. Really is a very boring race.Other than Havana,there does not seem to be a horse of note. No Nay Never looks to be a turf/poly monster. They are running here for 1 reason and 1 reason alone. It is a G2 Stakes race for Sprinters. That is all he is,a sprinter. Why not take a shot. There is nothing more than i would love to see the 2 Coolmores duel it up.That is wishful thinking. Maybe Luis from the 2 post can help throw some logs into the fire. Personally,Havana looks mighty dominant here,i will use the ex Munsters pet "Spot" to possibly shock him,or run 2nd.
  • tmallios1 · Laz you mentioned Spot on another thread. I had him under a different Alias. When Havana scratched,this guy jumped up at me.Especially since he was a private purchase since his last race.He was bought by the Moss/Zito connection. Major jock switch was also huge. · 1329 days ago
Time for the Man child to sturt his stuff on the dirt.
You hit the nail on the head, Mike. The only way I can see bettors getting a good pay day is if Havana and No Nay Never burn each other out on the front end, leaving the pieces for someone else to pick up. Can't count on that happening, though.
The long layoffs and first time on the dirt for No Nay Never, together with the low odds makes both of the favorites unbettable for me, but who in this group can beat them? Looks like a good race to watch, I will be happy if both favorites run well, but not a betting race.
Brothersofthetime will give everyone a big surprise

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Meet Laurie Ross


I've been around horses for most of my life, working in racing stables as a hot walker and exercise rider in my teenage years, and later as a volunteer with rescued and retired racehorses. I became interested in pedigree when the sons and daughters of my favorite horses started their racing careers.   


For more than a decade, I've passionately studied pedigree, how it applies to handicapping and breeding theories. In 2010, I joined Horse Racing Nation as their Pedigree Analyst, focusing on juvenile stakes winners, Triple Crown contenders and first crop sires from a handicapping perspective.   


In 2011, I accepted the role of South Florida Coordinator and Advisory Board Member for the national non-profit Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association (ThoroFan). Working closely with Gulfstream Park management and other race fans, we created a ThoroFan Chapter at Gulfstream Race Track. Our main project is assisting Thoroughbred rescue and re-training groups.


I continue to maintain my website Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds and blog of the same name. As a pedigree consultant, I specialize in assisting small to mid-size breeding/training operations with broodmare breeding reports, sales catalog analysis and recommendations on claims and private sales. 10 - 20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue and retraining groups.
I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic please contact me at lross@horseracingnation.com.

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