Senor Swinger Puts Churchill Streak On Line

(from Churchill Downs report)
Robert and Beverly Lewis' Senor Swinger has never been defeated on Churchill Downs' Matt Winn Turf Course, but he faces his toughest test there Saturday in the $250,000-added Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT).

The Bob Baffert-trained son of El Prado faces favored Perfect Soul and seven other rivals in the one-mile turf test for 3-year-olds and up.

The 4-year-old Senor Swinger has been invincible when running over the grass course at Churchill Downs. He has won all four of his turf races under the Twin Spires, including a recent victory over grade I winner Hard Buck in the Opening Verse Handicap on June 12. His earlier wins included a Derby Week allowance race and 2003 victories in the Jefferson Cup and Crown Royal American Turf (both gr. IIIT).

Baffert's colt is winless in seven turf races away from Churchill Downs and has managed only a pair of third-place finishes in those outings.

"He definitely loves it here," said John Good, the assistant who oversees Baffert's stable at the Louisville track. "It seems that he runs a little better here. We're excited about Saturday."

Senor Swinger was assigned 117 pounds and will be ridden by Pat Day. He is the 3-1 co-second choice for the Firecracker.

"It'll be his first time going a mile here, so we're just hoping there's some good pace in the race," said Good. "I think he's ready and we're expecting a big performance from him."

Canadian invader Perfect Soul is the 5-2 favorite. The Irish-bred son of Sadler's Wells won the Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IIT) at Keeneland in his first start of 2004 for Woodbine-based trainer Roger Attfield, but then ran a disappointing 10th behind Stroll over "yielding" turf in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs.

Perfect Soul has won seven of 17 races, all on turf, and has collected career earnings of $1,280,215. Veteran Larry Melancon will ride Perfect Soul, who will carry high weight 121 pounds.

Other major contenders include K.K. and V.D. Jayaraman's Royal Spy, who won the 2002 Maker's Mark Mile and co-second choice at 3-1. Very Un Stable's Quantum Merit is a New York-bred stakes winner who will attempt to give trainer Del Carroll II his second straight Firecracker Breeders' Cup win. Cobra Farm's On The Course, who has won four of five career races and makes his stakes debut for trainer Mike Stidham.

$250,000-added Firecracker Breeders' Cup (gr. IIT), 3 & up, 1 mile on turf
Post/Horse (Weight) Jockey ML Odds
1. Royal Spy (118) Robby Albarado 3-1
2. Puget Sound (108) Daniel Coa 30-1
3. Senor Swinger (117) Pat Day 3-1
4. Perfect Soul (121) Larry Melancon 5-2
5. On The Course (112) John McKee 6-1
6. Mr. Krisley (112) Craig Perret 20-1
7. Quantum Merit (117) Shane Sellers 9-2
8. Everything To Gain (113) Mark Guidry 20-1
9. Majestic Thief (114) Jesus Castanon 15-1

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