Swift Warrior comes home strong to win the John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes.

Swift Warrior comes home strong to win the John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes.

Coady Photography/Jack Coady

Swift Warrior Makes the Pace to Take Connally

Son of First Samurai sets the pace in his first graded stakes win.

Swift Warrior made his first-ever start at Sam Houston Race Park a successful one Jan. 26, when he beat nine rivals in the John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes (gr. IIIT) in a pacesetting effort (VIDEO) . The victory was his third career stakes win and his second since last September.

Ridden by Jose Espinoza and sent off as the 9-5 favorite, Swift Warrior ran steadily throughout the race and finished a comfortable 2 3/4 lengths in front of King David, who had won the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park in October. Ending up third was American Derby (gr. IIT) winner and 5-2 second betting choice Willcox Inn, who rallied to finish three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up. Seal Cove, the 3-1 third choice, finished fourth.

Swift Warrior's final time for the 1 1/8 miles over a firm turf course was 1:49.21 and came after fractions of 24.98, :49.38, 1:13.40, and 1:37.59.

Trained by John Terranova II, the 5-year-old son of First Samurai  races for owners James Covello and James Dolan.

Swift Warrior, whose previous stakes wins included a victory in the  restricted Win Stakes on grass at Saratoga Race Course, improved his record  to 5-2-7 from 19 starts and upped his career earnings to $340,843 with the first-place earnings of $114,000 in the Connally.

Following Seal Cove were Ocean Seven, Lockout, Marinous, Holiday Promise, Capture the Flag, and Red Lead.

Swift Warrior paid $5.80, $3.20, and $2.40. King David was good for $4.60 and $2.80 while Willcox Inn paid $2.80. The 1-6 exacta returned $34.20 and the 1-6-9 trifecta was worth $131.20. The 1-6-9-4 superfecta was good for $492.80.