You normally don't see a leading Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contender in the seven-furlong Swale Stakes (gr. III), but Buckram Oak Farm's Eurosilver will try sprinting one more time, as he faces five opponents, including the top-class 2-year-old Chapel Royal, who will be making his 3-year-old debut.
After Eurosilver won his first start of the year, a seven-furlong allowance race against mediocre competition, trainer Nick Zito decided to keep him short before sending him to Keeneland for the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). The son of Unbridled's Song
has already won big going two turns, romping by almost five lengths in Keeneland's Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. II), and Zito wants to make sure he doesn't peak too soon.
The Swale certainly will not be an easy spot for Eurosilver, and if he should get beat by one of the more brilliant runners in the race, it would not diminish his status as one of the top Derby contenders. And with the likes of Chapel Royal, Wynn Dot Comma, Dashboard Drummer, and Saratoga County in the field, he may not be able to match some of these for speed.
He did draw well with the outside post, giving jockey Javier Castellano the opportunity to watch what transpires inside him before deciding on tactics. Chapel Royal, however, drew the rail, and will have to break alertly without getting caught up in any speed duel. What he has going in his favor is that there really isn't anyone to get into a speed duel with. The others are all pretty much come-from-behind horses, and Chapel Royal could find himself on the lead by default. And if he is, his speed and class will make him very dangerous, even if it is his first start since finishing a gutsy third in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), in which he pressed a suicidal half in :45 flat. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, although he feels Chapel Royal will be effective up to a mile or 1 1/16 miles, he'll consider stretching him in one of the Derby preps if he runs big in the Swale.
Another horse with speed and class is Wynn Dot Comma, who had traffic problems in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) and closed well to be fourth. Before that, he captured the Spectacular Bid Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream and two stakes at Calder for trainer Marty Wolfson. Edgar Prado will replace Joe Bravo in the saddle.
Saratoga County had to come from far back in the Hutcheson to finish a fast-closing third after hitting the gate at the start and having to check. He gets the services of Jerry Bailey and will be tough off that effort and his second-place finish in the Spectacular Bid. The son of Valid Expectations
is trained by former Pletcher assistant George Weaver.
Dashboard Drummer is an intriguing horse, having won his first two starts at Prairie Meadows before traveling to Monmouth Park for the Sapling Stakes (gr. III), in which he exploded in the stretch to blow by the brilliant Deputy Storm, winning going away by 2 1/2 lengths. Trainer Allen Iwinski tried stretching him out in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) and he finished third to Birdstone and Chapel Royal. He comes into the Swale having turned in a couple of bullet works at Gulfstream. Ramon Domiguez picks up the mount.
The field is completed by Caiman, who set the pace in a mile and 70-yard allowance race won by Birdstone on Feb. 14, finishing a good third, beaten 3 1/2 lengths, with first-time Lasix. Prior to that, he showed nothing in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) and most likely bled. The son of Malibu Moon
won two of three starts last year in Mexico. He's trained by Angel Medina and will be ridden by Gary Boulanger.
Entrants for the grade II Swale Stakes, $150,000 guaranteed, 3-year-olds, seven furlongs:
PP, Horse, Trainer, Jockey, Weight
1 -- Chapel Royal, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 122
2 -- Saratoga County, George Weaver, Jerry Bailey, 116
3 -- Wynn Dot Comma, Marty Wolfson, Edgar Preado, 120
4 -- Caiman, Angel Medina, Gary Boulanger, 116
5 -- Dashboard Drummer, Allen Iwinski, Ramon Dominguez, 120
6 -- Eurosilver, Nick Zito, Javier Castellano, 120