General Jim took a step forward in Saturday’s Grade 3, $125,000 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park, rallying in the stretch to pull off a mild upset victory over Super Chow.
Winning trainer Shug McGaughey said the March 4 running of the Fountain of Youth (G2), a 50-20-15-10-5 points prep for Kentucky Derby 2023, “is not out of the question” for General Jim.
Coming off a fourth-place finish in the mile Mucho Macho Man after lacking room through the stretch run on Jan. 1, General Jim turned in a thoroughly professional performance while wearing blinkers for the first time and cutting back in distance to Saturday’s seven furlongs.
“A lot of times when you have plans and they work, it makes it fun, because a lot of times they don’t work,” McGaughey said. “I thought he ran really good today from the inside, and he ran down a pretty good horse. I was very pleased. We’ll see where this takes us.”
After breaking cleanly from the No. 1 post position under Luis Saez, General Jim settled in third along the backstretch. Super Chow, the 4-5 favorite ridden by Chantal Sutherland, opened up a clear lead. The Jorge Delgado-trained Super Chow, who was chasing his fourth straight stakes score and sixth victory in seven starts, set fractions of 22.69 and 45.31 seconds for the first half-mile unchallenged on the lead.
However, Saez sent General Jim around a tiring, easy pace-chaser Two of a Kind on the far turn, and the 8-5 second choice loomed boldly on the turn into the stretch.
Super Chow, who previously hadn’t run farther than 6 1/2 furlongs, held the lead in mid-stretch but was unable to hold off General Jim, who scored by a length while completing seven furlongs in 1:23.34.
“Definitely the race came up perfect for him. We know we have plenty of speed. We just tried to break from there running and find a great spot. We have a pretty good trip and, man, when we came to the top of the stretch, I had a lot of horse, and he just kept going,” Saez said. “I know Mr. Shug was saying he was going to put on the blinkers, and we’ve been working in the morning with the blinkers, and he was magnificent. Today the plan was to have a target in front and just wait to the end and let him run. He did it by himself, so it was pretty good.”
Super Chow finished 11 lengths ahead of Two of a Kind.
General Jim, who debuted for owner Courtlandt Farms with a third-place finish at Saratoga, graduated with a turf win there three weeks later. The son of Into Mischief came right back to win an allowance at Keeneland in his next start before finishing third in the Central Park Stakes at Aqueduct on turf to cap his juvenile season. His victory in the Swale was his first success on dirt.
“He’s developing now,” McGaughey said. “He’s grown and kind of filled out. He’s gained weight. He’s got a little bit more weight to go, so I’m going to let him do that.”
The Swale, a seven-furlong sprint, was the first of five graded stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday’s 12-race program headlined by the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3), the first graded-stakes stop on the road to the $1 million Florida Derby (G1).