Senor Swinger Swallows Stroll in Belmont BC

Senor Swinger Swallows Stroll in Belmont BC
Photo: AP/NYRA Adam Coglianese
Senor Swinger, with Edgar Prado aboard, captures the Belmont Breeders' Cup, Saturday at Belmont Park.
Senor Swinger pounced on 3-5 choice Stroll in upper stretch and rolled to a convincing four-length victory Saturday in the $197,800 Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) under rainy skies on the inner Belmont turf course.

Ridden by by Edgar Prado for trainer Bob Baffert and owners Bob and Beverly Lewis, Senor Swinger won for the fourth time on the turf in less than five months. The 4-year-old gray son of El Prado–Smooth Swinger (Kris S.) clocked a 1:52 3/5 for the 1 1/8-mile event on soft going.

"The key was to get him to relax," said Prado, who won back-to-back stakes at Belmont after guiding Feline Story to victory in the Floral Park Handicap (gr. III) a race earlier. "He relaxed beautiful. It was a slow, comfortable pace. The soft turf, everything combined together worked out good."

Stroll passed pacesetter Gulch Approval at the top of the stretch with Cornelio Velasquez aboard, but was no match for the winner when quickly overtaken on the outside, held on for second with B.A. Way a distant third. Only four competed.

Senor Swinger, seventh in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) in his last start Aug. 14, was obviously comfortable while racing in third as Gulch Approval and Corey Nakatani carved easy fractions of :25 2/5, :50 and 1:15 1/.5. On the final turn, he moved up easily on the leaders and was soon in command as he pulled away under moderate urging.

"He's been training incredibly and we had a lot of confidence in him," said Tonja Terranova, who saddled the horse for Baffert. "Bob called just before the race and said, 'Don't worry, he loves the soft going.' Edgar sat back there and when he was ready, the horse punched for him. He finished full of run. I got a little nervous going around the turn, but once Edgar asked him, he really exploded."

He paid $6.80 and $2.50 as the second choice. Stroll, a grade I winner in May making his first since June 5, returned $2.20.

"My horse did good, but I think he needed a race," Velasquez said of Stroll. "He got tired towards the end, maybe because of the soft track, but I think he needed this race."

Purchased privately for a run at the 3-year-old classics in 2003, Senor Swinger has developed into a formidable turf runner with six wins in 15 starts on the sod. He won the Opening Verse Handicap on a yielding Churchill Downs surface June 12 and won the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) in a prep for the Million July 24.

He earned $124,680 for his eight overall victory in 21 starts to push his career bankroll to $795,368.

Bob Ackerman bred Senor Swinger in Kentucky.

(Chart, Equibase)

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