With two scratches prior to the race, just four 3-year-olds contested the 1 1/8-mile Cushion Track event.
Jockey Tyler Baze, who had the week of a lifetime, craftily backed Tres Borrachos off the leaders soon after breaking in front from the rail post, allowing the speedy Two Step Salsa to set a brisk pace while staking from the inside.
Colonel John, the 3-5 favorite, was left to pressure the pacesetter on the outside and the grade I winner, making his first start in 10 weeks, wasn't up to the task through the long stretch run. As Two Step Salsa and Colonel John battled for the lead while racing through the homestretch, Baze guided the game Tres Borrachos through an opening on the inside and they went on tally an impressive 1 1/4-length win. The final time, 1:49.29, was more than two seconds off the Cushion Track mark established by Heatseeker in the Californian (gr. II) earlier in the meet.
"This horse ran a monster race," said Tyler Baze, all smiles after also winning the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) June 28 aboard the outsider Mast Track. "Won the Gold Cup, got married, won the Swaps! It couldn't be better."
Baze, who won three races on the card, married fiancé Christina Waugh in Pasadena July 7. “It's a great feeling being able to finish the meet off with a nice stakes win like this. Ever since I got married, everything's been clicking. This week has been just awesome."
Beau Greely trains Tres Borrachos, which means "Three Drunks" in Spanish. He owns the smallish bay gelding in partnership with his brother, John Greely, who stands the winner's sire, Ecton Park, at the family's Wintergreen Farm near Midway, Ky., Brad Scott and Phil Houchens.
"He's a horse that just has so much heart," the trainer said. "He fights back. He's a really cool horse."
Heading into the Swaps, Tres Borrachos had just a maiden win in his nine-race career while making a couple of stops on the Triple Crown trail this spring. Following a strong third-place finish at 37-1 in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), Greely decided to take a shot in Pimlico's Preakness Stakes (gr. I), but Tres Borrachos stumbled badly at the start and was never a factor in finishing ninth, 17 1/2 lengths behind Big Brown. Tres Borrachos bounced back with a second-place finish, 3 3/4 lengths behind Two Step Salsa , in the Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) at Hollywood June 15.
That effort was overlooked by the public in the Swaps, who could see only Colonel John and Two Step Salsa while sending Tres Borrachos off at oods of 11-1. Tres Borrachos received nine pounds from Colonel John, who carried 122, and five from the 7-5 second pick Two Step Salsa.
Colonel John, winner of the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) in April, was making his first start since a troubled sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) for trainer Eoin Harty. Reunited with Garrett Gomez for the Swaps, Colonel John had little excuse as he found a comfortable stalking position just off Two Step Salsa, who recovered from a hesitant start to click off quick fractions of :23.47, :47.08 and 1:10.91 for jockey Martin Pedroza.
At the top of the stretch, the race looked like it belonged to Colonel John, who ranged up on the outside of Two Step Salsa and put a head in front mid-stretch. But the favorite faltered in the final furlong and could not match strides with the winner, who benefited from his inside trip to gradually pull away from his rivals in the final strides. Two Step Salsa, battled back on the inside of Colonel John to get the runner-up spot by a head. Madeo trailed.
"I think (Colonel John) came up a little short,” Harty said. “He's been off a long time. I thought he was a little fitter than he probably was. He seems fine."
Tres Borrachos, with his second win in 10 lifetime starts, more than doubled his earnings to $398,300 while paying $24 and $5.80 to win. Two Step Salsa, who came into the Swaps with back-to-back grade III wins at the meet for trainer Julio Canani and Everest Stables, returned $3.20 and completed a $2 exacta of $59.60. Colonel John completed a $2 trifecta worth a surprising $83.60.
The homebred winner earned $217,650 for the victory. Tres Borrachos is out of the 13-year-old Ontario mare Pete's Fancy, by Canadian Triple Crown winner Peteski, a son of Affirmed. The dam won $405,586 in a racing career that included 10 victories in 40 starts.
Nownownow and Trevor's Clever scratched.
Most Popular Stories
- Cibelli Wins Her First Race After 60-Day Ban
- Grade I Winner Mission Approved Retired
- Big Fields for Hollywood's Final Curtain Call
- No Deal Yet on Will Take Charge, Horton Says
- Bourbon Courage Faces Csaba, Neck 'n Neck
- Legacy Bloodstock Relaunched by Easthams
- That Handicapping Show: Dania Beach Stakes
- OwnerView to Host October Ownership Seminar
- Tranquility Farm Downsizing, Moving North
- OH Panel to New Track: No Tellers, No Permit