Senor Swinger Wins 4th Stakes on Churchill Sod
Date Posted: 6/13/2004 4:23:14 PM

(from Churchill Downs report)
Senor Swinger, ridden by Pat Day, closed from fifth on the backside past favored Hard Buck in the final furlong for a 1 1/4-length victory in Saturday's first running of the $110,900 Opening Verse Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at Churchill Downs.

The son of El Prado, who is now undefeated in four attempts on the Churchill Downs turf including three stakes wins, covered the 1 1/16 miles on "yielding" turf in 1:45.82 and paid $6.20, $2.80 and $2.40.

"He just likes the ground with a little cut to it and Churchill has got a great grass course," Day said. "Today it's decidedly soft. I wasn't sure how he was going to handle that, but he stepped up the plate, handled it well and responded when called upon. He kind of took the overland route, but I think we were on the best ground and I didn't want to drop down in there where it was all cut up and stand a chance of getting stopped."

Hard Buck, making his first start since running second in the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) and ridden by Brice Blanc, made a bid for the lead along the inside in the stretch before settling for second, paid $2.60 and $2.20. Majestic Thief, with Cornelio Velasquez up, finished 1 1/4-lengths back in third and paid $3.20.

Owned by Robert & Beverly Lewis and trained by Bob Baffert, Senor Swinger earned $68,758 to increase his lifetime bankroll to $491,913. The win was his sixth in 17 lifetime starts and improved his turf record to four wins in 11 attempts.

Majestic Thief and Restage battled for the early lead through fractions of :24.98 for the quarter-mile, :50.54 for the half and completing a slow three-quarters in 1:15.60. As the field approached the top of the stretch, Senor Swinger began his move on the outside while Hard Buck made his along the hedge. Senor Swinger drew away late for the win.

"He's been doing awesome and he's definitely a Churchill Downs turf course specialist," Baffert assistant John Good said. "He loves it here and every time I lead him over he puts in his best race. He's a horse that always trains well no matter what, and he gives you confidence going into any of his races. He just excels here."

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