The tractable son of Tiznow heads a field of six for the 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds over the Cushion Track. The field came up a little light with the defections of Lexington Stakes (gr. II) winner Behindatthebar and Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) victor Dixie Chatter. That leaves the swift Two Step Salsa, a two-time grade III winner at the meeting, as Colonel John's main opponent.
Winner of the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) April 5, Colonel John had a tough trip in the Kentucky Derby May 3 at Churchill Downs, finishing more than 14 lengths behind the victorious Big Brown. After breaking a bit slowly, the WinStar Farm homebred was steadied by jockey Corey Nakatani after they were bumped in heavy traffic heading into the clubhouse turn, leaving them near the rear of the pack in the 20-horse field. Colonel John spent the remainder of the trip trying to make up for the poor beginning. After closing to within a couple of lengths of the lead on the far turn, the bay colt fell back in the stretch run.
Colonel John worked five furlongs in :59 2/5 at Santa Anita on July 9 in preparation for his first start since that effort.
“I gave him a little time off after that,” said trainer Eoin Harty July 9 from his Santa Anita base. “He had a very rough trip. He looks fantastic now, and I couldn’t be happier. I think he’s coming into this race as good as he was coming into the Santa Anita Derby.”
A winner of four of seven starts and $825,300 in his career, Colonel John is familiar with the Hollywood Cushion Track, winning the 1 1/16-mile Real Quiet Stakes by three lengths in his stakes debut there last November. He also ran second in the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) over the surface a month later. All of Colonel John's starts have been on synthetic tracks except for the Kentucky Derby.
Garrett Gomez, who rode Colonel John to a win in the Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita March 1, replaces Nakatani in the Swaps.
The speedster Two Step Salsa successfully negotiated two turns in his first route try June 15, capturing the 1 1/16-mile Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) by 3 3/4 lengths for trainer Julio Canani. The Everest Stables' homebred son of Petionville was a three-length winner of the Lazaro Barrera Memorial (gr. III) a month earlier. He is undefeated in all four of his synthetic track efforts, his only career loss coming in a turf stakes at Hollywood April 25.
Tres Borrachos, runner-up in the Affirmed after a disastrous trip in the Preakness (gr. I), adds speed to the line-up.
“He just worked three furlongs in :36 and one this morning and is all set for the venture,” said trainer Beau Greely July 9. “He stumbled at the gate and went to his knees in the Preakness. We just threw that one out and went from there."
Tres Borrachos finished third in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) and third in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) this spring but has just one win in nine lifetime starts.
“It’s obviously a nice field, but if he brings his ‘A’ game, and he’s training like he will, he should be right in the mix.”
Nownownow, winner of the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, tries Cushion Track after running fifth in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) at The Curragh May 24. A winner of two of seven starts with three seconds, he has made $660,784, but seeks his first win on a surface other than turf.
Madeo, owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, will be making his fifth start overall and his third at the meet in the Swaps. The John Shirreffs-trained colt won an allowance race April 30 before finishing second to Swaps rival Trevor’s Clever as the odds-on favorite in the Alydar at nine furlongs on May 24. His connections won the race with Tiago in 2007.
Trainer Todd Pletcher told New York racing officials that Behindatthebar missed his flight July 8 because of a foot problem. Meanwhile, another probable Swaps starter, Dixie Chatter, was held out by trainer Richard Mandella in favor of a possible return in the Oceanside Stakes on grass July 16 at Del Mar.
$350,000 Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, 4:50 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Tres Borrachos (KY), 112, Tyler Baze
2. Two Step Salsa (KY), 118, Martin A. Pedroza
3. Nownownow (KY), 120, Julien R. Leparoux
4. Colonel John (KY), 122, Garrett K. Gomez
5. Madeo (KY), 112, Mike E. Smith
6. Trevor's Clever (FL), 112, Joseph Talamo