Favored Sweet Swap became a graded stakes winner over his favored hillside turf course with a front-running tally in the $100,000 San Simeon Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) April 13 at Santa Anita Park.
On a lightning fast grass course heavily playing for speed, Sweet Swap unfurled sizzling fractions under Joe Talamo and opened a sizable three-length lead in the stretch. The 5-year-old son of Candy Ride then hung in to the wire under left-handed urging to repel the onrushing Lakerville, who rallied from seventh on the bend to finish second by half a length.
Lakerville had defeated Sweet Swap by 1 1/4 lengths the last time they met when first and second in the Clocker's Corner Stakes on the hillside course Jan. 26.
Sweet Swap, a slight 9-5 favorite over Lakerville in the San Simeon's field of nine older turf sprinters, was timed in an excellent 1:11.59 for the about 6 1/2-furlong distance. Trained by John Sadler, the sleek chestnut won for the fourth time in five starts for brothers Kosta and Pete Hronis, who race as Hronis Racing.
"It didn't look like there was a lot of speed in the race today, so we let him run a little more free," Sadler said. "I think he's a little better coming from off the pace, but that's the way the course is playing, so we let him run on."
Bred in Kentucky by the Craig Family Trust, Sweet Swap is out of the Storm Cat mare Fair Exchange. He is a full brother to WinStar Farm stallion Sidney's Candy , winner of the 2010 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and a multiple graded stakes victor on both synthetic and turf who banked more than $1.1 million in his career.
Quarter mile fractions for the San Simeon were :21.74 and :43.61 as Sweet Swap led the pressuring 18-1 shot Handsome Mike into the stretch before opening up a commanding lead. The six-furlong split was 1:05.52 as Lakerville, last on the bend, charged home under Corey Nakatani to make it interesting in the final sixteenth. Handsome Mike, ridden by Mario Gutierrez, was 2 1/2 lengths farther back in third, followed by Pure Tactics, Artest, Chiloquin, Pataky Kid , Forward March, and Zimmer, who was eased.
"What impressed me today was that he was pressured the whole way," Talamo said. "He never got a breather at any point so for him to kick away like that was pretty impressive. We figured Lakerville was going to be coming at us so our plan was to steal away a little bit once we hit the dirt. Fortunately for us, it worked out."
"He came running at them but they just don't get as tired on the lead when the track is playing fast," Nakatani said of Lakerville's trip. "He ran his race and the winner just ran a little better."
Defending San Simeon Stakes winner Chips All In was an early scratch.
With four wins and three placings from eight lifetimes starts on the Santa Anita hillside, Sweet Swap improved his career mark to 6-2-1 in 12 races with earnings of $287,133. He was coming off a 1 3/4-length victory in the Joe Hernandez Feb. 23, his initial stakes win.
Under 118 pounds, Sweet Swap paid $5.60, $3, and $2.60 across the board. Lakerville returned $2.80 and $2.40 in his first start since running sixth in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) March 8. The chalky exacta was worth $13.80. Handsome Mike paid $5.20 to show.